Dozens of anti-fascist protesters march through Portland

Rally began at 2 p.m., march followed at 3:30 p.m.

An anti-fascist protester sits in the middle of an intersection during a march through downtown Portland, November 4, 2017 (KOIN)
An anti-fascist protester sits in the middle of an intersection during a march through downtown Portland, November 4, 2017 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Dozens of people gathered at Jamison Square in the Pearl District on a gray, drizzly Saturday as part of an organized, nationwide rally against fascism and, specifically, the Trump-Pence administration.

Speakers took to the microphone in a somewhat ad-hoc fashion for the better part of an hour and all of them echoed the same sentiments: Trump must go, his policies are disastrous, the environment, climate change and a seemingly increasing march in the US toward fascist policies.

I thought it went really well,” said Robert Brown, a Refuse Fascism organizer. “We had a lot of good people come out.”

Most of the people at the rally showed their faces, though there were a number of people in the identifiable Antifa full-facial mask. Pro-Trump supporters were also there, including Patriot Prayer’s Joey Gibson — who previously said he did not plan to attend.

“Just here to support free speech,” Gibson said. “Their right to peacefully protest.”

Gibson’s arrival — with some others who support him — was not appreciated from the rally’s organizers.

“If you’re here to peacefully protest, you are welcome,” Brown said. “If you’re  going to come here and bring friends who are going to bully people and scare people then you’re not welcome.”

Gibson was asked what his response was to people asking him not to show up.

“They’ve been asking me to stay out of Portland for a year,” Gibson said.

“Obviously I don’t listen.”

Around 3:30 p.m., a march began with the group planning to walk from Jamison Square to Pioneer Courthouse Square and the waterfront. It began on the sidewalk, mostly, and included the now-familiar refrain, “No KKK, no fascist USA, no Trump!” and “Whose street? Our street!”

One new chant was added: “Every city, every state, punch a Nazi in the face.”

In the early part of their march, there seemed to be no pro-Trump opposition to the marchers as they passed in front of Powell’s Bookstore. The marchers do have a permit, but police said they deviated from their planned route on their way to Pioneer Courthouse Square. But they went past the square, marching in the streets, disrupting traffic and MAX trains. They marched east to the Apple store, where they stopped for a moment of silence.

They then marched another half-block before sittting down in the intersection to stop traffic. Annoyed drivers honked briefly before the protesters got up and marched toward the waterfront.

When they arrived at the waterfront, there were a few members of the alt-right group Patriot Prayer already there, but their presence did not seem overwhelming or organized.

At this point, there were between 50 and 100 protesters in total. They marched up the ramp in an effort to get onto the Hawthorne Bridge, but were stopped before even getting on by Portland police in riot gear. The protesters peacefully turned around and marched back down.

Moments later, an organizer appeared to say the rally was over. That organizer told KOIN 6 News he felt “we had a rally that went well. We had good speakers, great speakers and the march was very successful.”

He said his main message was “If you’re here to peacefully protest you’re welcome here. but if you’re here to bully people, you’re not welcome.”

There was no violence at any point, though there were some tense moments early on. The police presence was visible but not omnipresent and only confronted the protesters when they tried to get onto the bridge.

The event at Jamison Square was organized by Refuse Fascism PDX and Queer Liberation Front.

Refuse Fascism PDX organizer Robert Brown said Friday that he expected at least 2,000 people Saturday and hopes the protest grows and lasts for days.

“I think there’s a lot of support in the community,” Brown said. “I think we could probably do something continuing to Christmas.”

Patriot Prayer’s Joey Gibson showed up to the protest, despite saying he didn’t plan on attending.

Mayor Ted Wheeler said the city is prepared for any protests the area may see this weekend.

“We will definitely have a police presence. We want to make sure that people are able to express their First Amendment right, but at the end of the day, we want to make sure that everyone goes home safely and local laws are abided by,” Wheeler said.

On Nov. 10, 2016, 2 days after Trump was elected, a group of nearly 4,000 people marched in the streets, breaking windows and damaging property along the way. The Pearl District took a big hit that night.

Portland isn’t the only city expecting major protests Saturday. According to Refuse Fascism’s website, around 20 cities are participating including Seattle, New York City, Chicago and San Francisco.

Another protest is expected Sunday.

The Million Mask March occurs annually and according to the group, it’s a protest of “government corruption, abuse of power and corporate influence in government.” Last year, members of the group wore Anonymous masks, styled in the likeness of Guy Fawkes.