PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Gregory McKelvey is hardly a stranger to protests. He’s one of the organizers of protests that took over parts of the city of Portland over the past few months, including the protest that devolved into a riot Thursday night.
McKelvey, whose loosely-based group is now called Portland’s Resistance, doesn’t condone violence. But he said the group is still planning to hold a rally at Portland City Hall — but not a march — beginning at 5 p.m. Friday.
Thursday’s events began with a Portland’s Resistance anti-Trump rally in Pioneer Courthouse Square. But once the protesters began marching through the streets, other elements joined and the protest soon became a riot that lasted for hours.
It ended with violence, vandalism and venom that has been attributed to outsiders embedded in the crowd — and, he said, beyond his control.
“If somebody is attacking something with a baseball bat, the last thing I could do is direct my followers to go confront that person physically,” McKelvey told KOIN 6 News on Friday.
Asked if he thinks Friday’s rally could turn into something beyond peaceful protest, McKelvey re-iterated they have no plans to march.
“We have no plans to take the streets,” he said. “I think that our city needs time to heal.”
Volunteers from Portland’s Resistance and others pitched in to clean up the riotous damage. They continue to raise money to help offset repairs from the violence.
Violence he can only hope doesn’t erupt again in the streets of Portland.
“People are going to do what they want to do. Martin Luther King said, ‘A riot is the language of the unheard,’ and it’s not my job to silence anybody that feels unheard.”
McKelvey said he wants to lead by example and not through chaos.
“I’m not going to combat Donald Trump hate with more hate. I’m going to combat it with love,” he told KOIN 6 News. “I think we should blame Donald Trump for (the violence) and I do.”