(Update: Later developments, police statement)
PORTLAND (AP) — Portland police Saturday night detained anti-police brutality protesters who had gathered downtown.
Shortly after 9 p.m., officers tackled protesters and detained them as the crowd of several hundred people yelled at them. Police told protesters to move back and get out of the street as they made the arrests.
Protesters chanted: “No good cops in a racist system!”
Protesters shot fireworks at police. KOIN-TV posted a video in which police warn that protesters who hurl projectiles will be subject to arrest.
About 10 p.m., police left the scene. The protesters remained in the street.
Earlier Saturday, police said a right-wing rally and counter-protests in Portland dispersed without serious violence, though they are investigating an assault after one person who was documenting the event was pushed to the ground and kicked in the face.
Separately, police said a criminal citation was issued after officials confiscated firearms, paintball guns, baseball bats and shields from a pick-up truck that was initially stopped for having obscured license plates as it left the rally.
Several hundred people, dozens of them wearing militarized body armor, gathered to support President Donald Trump and his “law and order” reelection campaign Saturday afternoon. The attendance was far fewer than the 10,000 organizers had expected after tensions boiled over nationwide following the decision not to charge officers in Louisville, Kentucky, for killing Breonna Taylor.
Organized by the Proud Boys, a group that has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the rally was described as a free speech event to support Trump and police and condemn anti-fascists, “domestic terrorism” and “violent gangs of rioting felons” in the streets.
Local and state elected officials forcefully condemned the event and rushed to shore up law enforcement ranks as left-wing groups organized several rallies to oppose the Proud Boys’ message. About 1,000 counter-protesters gathered at another park.
The events began at noon and were largely dispersed by 3 p.m. The Oregon Department of Transportation shut down the interstate highway for a brief time to help control the crowd and flow of traffic.
“The purpose of this closure was to clear some people out of the area who wanted to leave and to keep competing groups separate,” said Chris Liedle, a spokesman with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, in updates posted on Twitter, as the city had braced for the threat of violence with multiple rallies in the area.
Police also said they arrested three people, including a man suspected of driving under the influence and a woman for an outstanding arrest warrant, Liedle said.
Dozens began to show up two hours before the right-wing rally, some packed into the beds of pickup trucks. Many were wearing militarized body armor, including helmets and protective vests. Many flew American flags or black flags bearing the logo of the Three Percenters, another far-right group and some wore Make America Great Again hats.
TJ Detweiler, who works in construction and plumbing, said at the rally that he wanted to end domestic terrorism in the U.S.
“I would like to see people stop the looting and rioting and enjoy the country for what rights we have,” Detweiler said.
MCSO Sheriff Reese and OSP Superintendent Hampton release joint statement on 9/26 events
Multnomah Co. Sheriff's Office - 09/26/20 11:35 PM
On Saturday, September 26, 2020, Oregon State Police, the Multnomah County Sheriff Office and Portland Police Bureau as unified command, managed multiple large events across Portland.
Throughout the day, agencies worked together to ensure everyone’s right to gather and share in free speech events, while maintaining community safety and public order.
Events remained relatively peaceful Saturday afternoon because of good operational planning, an abundance of resources available under the Unified Command structure and effective communication and coordination between all the agencies involved.
“Our Unified Command worked well to prevent violence before it started. Law enforcement officers performed a number of traffic stops and took weapons off the streets,” OSP Superintendent Travis Hampton said. “We appreciate the hard work of all the men and women in uniform assigned to this effort.”
“On Saturday, Oregonians denounced hate, racism and violence,” MCSO Sheriff Mike Reese said. “With the assistance of our partner agencies, the Unified Command was able to help keep the peace at multiple large events in North and Northeast Portland.”
Meanwhile, three self-described counter-protesters and one photojournalist have filed a federal suit against three men they say are associated with the Proud Boys, alleging assault and battery stemming from encounters in Portland last month.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the suit seeks $1.25 million in damages against Alan Swinney, Corey Wyatt and David Willis.
The plaintiff's lawyers wrote in the suit that “defendants, who are not residents of Portland, descended upon its downtown streets, sowing chaos, shooting at passers-by, spraying people with chemical weapons, and lobbing explosives with seeming impunity from local authorities.”
Rex Fergus, president of the Proud Boys, which is based in Washington state, said the named defendants “are not associated” with the Proud Boys.
The newspaper says Swinney, Wyatt and Willis could not be reached immediately for comment Friday.