Fights break out as Patriot Prayer, Antifa face off downtown

One person was arrested

Antifa and Patriot Prayer stopped at the Battleship Oregon Memorial on the waterfront to confront each other. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Patriot Prayer and Rose City Antifa faced off and exchanged insults before a few fights broke out Saturday afternoon during a planned march and counter-protest — both of which focused on immigration policy.

Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, 21, was arrested during the protests for harassment, fourth-degree assault, second-degree disorderly conduct and for a warrant on a previous disorderly conduct charge.

Rose City Antifa, which started gathering around noon at Chapman Square, chanted “Immigrants are welcome here” while Patriot Prayer — located across the street at Terry Schrunk Plaza — chanted “Deport illegals.”

The 2 groups began exchanging insults with each other before some physical altercations occurred. Antifa accused the pro-Trump supporters of standing with child molesters. Members of Patriot Prayer yelled back, “Justice for Kate.”

“As you know Kate Steinle was killed in San Francisco and he was set free this week, even though he was an illegal alien,” said Mark Callahan, a candidate for congress in Oregon’s 5th district.

An Antifa protester disagreed.

“They want to generate fear over Kate’s death, which was an unfortunate accident,” said Nick, who didn’t give a last name to KOIN 6 News.

More police arrived on scene and were able to separate the groups.The fights broke out after members of both groups crossed into the other group’s protest. Tensions remained high as both the groups marched through Portland — continuing to exchange insults.

The groups marched along the waterfront before moving toward Southwest 1st and Pine. While the numbers on both sides were smaller than in the past, both groups were fired up and continued to chant and exchange insults with each other throughout the afternoon. In response to Antifa chanting, “Black Lives Matter,” members of Patriot Prayer said “It’s okay to be white.”

Patriot Prayer organized the march to honor 32-year-old Kate Steinle, who was shot to death in July 2015. Jose Ines Garcia Zarate — a Mexican citizen — was recently found not guilty by a jury — reigniting the debate over immigration policy.

Patriot Prayer said on Facebook that “Americans are fed up with illegal immigration and the politicians who facilitate it. Sanctuary cities promote crime and jeopardize the lives of American citizens and LEGAL IMMIGRANTS.”

Prior to Steinle’s death, Garcia Zarate had been deported from the U.S. 5 times. After his acquittal, federal immigration officials said they will try to deport him again.

Rose City Antifa’s counter-protest is expected to last until 4 p.m. and is meant to “defend immigrants and fight back against Patriot Prayer.”

Its Facebook event page said, “On Saturday the 9th, Patriot Prayer will gather with other bigots and white supremacists in Portland to intimidate and harm immigrant communities. The extreme right is opportunistically amping up their violent rhetoric after the accidental death of Kate Steinle and they are threatening and justifying white supremacist violence against immigrant communities.”

The 2 groups have faced off multiple times — most recently in October, but both groups remained relatively calm. A few Patriot Prayer members also showed up to an anti-fascist protest Nov. 4, but their presence wasn’t overwhelming or organized.

KOIN 6 News reached out to Portland Police who said they’re aware of a planned protest and counter protest.

“The PPB works to ensure the safety of the community, practice of community members’ First Amendment right to freedom of speech and assembly, and property during events like those planned for the weekend,” Sgt. Chris Burley said.