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Proud Boys rally on Saturday raises concerns of more violence in Portland

By Hal Bernton, The Seattle Times on

Published in News & Features

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Proud Boys will hold a rally Saturday at a park near the Columbia River, raising concerns of another round of violence in Oregon's largest city.

The Proud Boys, who have a reputation for brawling with anti-fascists (antifa), have billed the event to showcase the group's "love for American and Western Values." It was initially scheduled for the downtown area but last week was moved to Delta Park in North Portland to accommodate what organizers called "an overwhelming amount of interest from across the nation," according to a statement released by the group.

The Proud Boys was formed in 2016 by Gavin McInnes, the co-founder of Vice Media, as "Western chauvinists who refuse to apologize for the modern world." In recent years, the group has gained a higher profile in the Pacific Northwest, including in Clark County in Southwest Washington. The members, clad in yellow and black shirts, often have showed up at rallies in Portland sponsored by another group, Patriot Prayer, that has also drawn white supremacists.

In both Oregon and Washington, Proud Boys have been involved in altercations, including an Aug. 23 melee in Seattle where punches were thrown and mace sprayed by both sides.

In New York, two Proud Boys last year were sentenced to four-year prison terms for their roles in a 2018 assault on anti-fascist activists outside an event where McInnes had given a talk.

Portland antifa activists and other protesters have been monitoring the Proud Boys' Saturday plans, and have called for their own rally Saturday with music, food and speeches in another park about 4 miles away.

 

Both the Proud Boys and left-wing activists, in social media posts, say they are prepared to defend themselves, and past encounters often have quickly escalated into violence.

Portland Police Bureau Chief Chuck Lovell is urging those who attend the dueling rallies to show restraint. "Due to the heightened rhetoric and many recent events where crimes occurred, we are developing a thorough plan to do everything possible to keep everyone safe," Lovell said in a statement earlier this week.

Meanwhile, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has lashed out at the Proud Boys. In a statement Wednesday, he said, "Some in these groups and many who associate with them embody and empower racism, intolerance and hate. Those are not Portland values, and they are not welcome. ... We are working with a wide variety of partners from around the region and the state to keep our community safe this weekend."

The Proud Boys also have been put an edge by something that happened earlier this month. On Sept. 5, in Vancouver, Washington, one of their members, Shane Moon, was seriously injured when hit by a driver and thrown up onto the roof of a vehicle before slamming to the ground.

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