- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 10, 2017

Police in Portland, Oregon, made seven arrests Sunday as antifa radicals threw rocks and smoke bombs at officers, creating chaos even after a scheduled Patriot Prayer rally was moved to Washington state in a bid to avoid violence.

Portland police said two officers sustained minor injuries as protesters “threw rocks, irritant smoke bombs and other projectiles” at Terry Schrunk Free Speech Plaza, the site of an otherwise peaceful counterprotest dubbed the March Against White Nationalism.

The charges included disorderly conduct, theft, interfering with a police officer, assault on a police officer and harassment, according to the Portland Police Department.

The department also reported that photographers were being attacked by the antifa, the loose-knit “anti-fascist” groups known for their black masks and use of violence to shut down conservative speakers.

Some protesters made their way 10 miles north to the Vancouver Landing Amphitheater in Vancouver, Washington, where Patriot Prayer’s Joey Gibson moved the Peaceful Portland Freedom March and drew a small crowd to hear his message of “freedom and love.”

Mr. Gibson urged his supporters last week to allow themselves to be beaten up rather than fight the antifa, and at least one of his backers heeded the message.

“Thank you for supporting the freedom of speech,” said one speaker, who wore an American flag draped over his shoulder. “I walked into downtown Portland at the Salmon fountain and I was met with hostility and hatred. I was assaulted, shot with a slingshot, hit, punched and kicked. The police were completely outnumbered. They couldn’t even defend us.”

Another speaker read Bible verses and led the crowd in prayer. As she spoke, the chants of protesters could be heard in the background chanting “Go home, Nazis” on video posted on Mr. Gibson’s page on Facebook.

“This reign of terror must end. This group who call themselves antifa are anything but antifascist. They use fascist tactics to harm and curb your freedoms,” one speaker said.

Mr. Gibson thanked the police for “keeping all of us safe … It’s easy to talk trash about the police until you’ve got to run to them and cry to them about some criminal.”

Mr. Gibson, who has repeatedly denounced white supremacists and identified himself as half-Asian, said he moved the rally to Vancouver because he was “done with the violence.”

“People are latching onto Patriot Prayer and they’re following us around because they just want to fight,” Mr. Gibson told Portland TV station KOIN.

The event represented the latest of several clashes between Patriot Prayer, which began as a pro-Trump group, and antifa protesters, most recently the Aug. 27 melee in Berkeley, California, that saw crowds of masked radicals attack Mr. Gibson and Trump supporters.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler issued a statement Friday saying that the city “will not tolerate acts of violence,” but did not mention antifa while singling out the vices that antifa says it’s acting against.

“Portland rejects racism, bigotry and xenophobia. We reject white supremacy,” said Mr. Wheeler. “Messages of hate are not welcome in Portland. We have seen — far too often — how these words of hate can quickly turn into acts of violence. Portland also rejects violence.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi condemned the antifa for the first time by name after police arrested 13 people in Berkeley, denouncing in an Aug. 29 statement the “violent actions of people calling themselves antifa.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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