Portland Police Disperse Crowds at Patriot Prayer Event

KPTV file image

KPTV file image

Portland police later said "protest officers seized firework mortars", while some activists on the left accused police of shooting "stun grenades".

The group Patriot Prayer USA reportedly planned to hold a rally that drew opposition.

Hundreds of people - among them Black Lives Matter activists, anti-fascists, anarchists and leftists - are expected to hold a counter-demonstration. A reporter for The Oregonian/OregonLive was bloodied when he was struck by a projectile.

It has drawn hundreds of supporters and counter-protesters. There were some arrests and reported injuries but it wasn't immediately clear how many of either occurred.

Saturday's rally was in stark contrast with two other rallies organized by Gibson this summer that ended in bloody fistfights and riots that sent one counterprotester to the hospital with a skull fracture.

Police Chief Danielle Outlaw, who took the job less than a year ago and is Portland's first African-American female police chief, said she takes all use-of-force cases seriously.

Gibson disputed the group's classification by some as a hate group.

Officials in Portland, Ore., are anxious the far-right rally planned for this weekend could turn into "another Charlottesville". "We make no apologies for the use of force in keeping our communities safe from the scourge of right-wing violence".

Lines of Portland police wearing protective helmets and vests kept the two sides separated. "Persons attending any of the events should not bring any weapons or items that can be used as weapons to any of the events".

"All people must disperse", police repeatedly said over loudspeakers.

Four people have been arrested following rallies by right-wing groups and counter-protesters in the U.S. city of Portland, Oregon, on Saturday.

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Patriot Prayer founder and rally organiser Joey Gibson speaks to his followers.

This time, Gibson changed the venue from a federal plaza outside U.S. District Court to a waterfront park so some of his OR supporters can carry concealed weapons as they demonstrate.

Protesters saw a significant police presence that included bomb-sniffing dogs and weapons screening checkpoints.

Demonstrators aligned with Patriot Prayer and an affiliated group, the Proud Boys, had gathered around midday at Waterfront Park.

Police promise a heavy presence as previous encounters between the two groups have turned violent.

Portland police said those with the appropriate licenses would be allowed to carry handguns but that rifles or other "long-guns" were prohibited.

The counter-protesters were made up of a coalition of labor unions, immigrant rights advocates, democratic socialists and other groups.

"Patriot Prayer is continuing to commit violence in our city, and their events are becoming more and more violent", said Effie Baum of Pop Mob, a coalition of community groups organizing the counter-demonstration.

Joey Gibson, leader of Patriot Prayer and a candidate for US Senate in neighbouring Washington state, organised the Freedom March, which brought a variety of far-right demonstrators and groups from out of state.

Gibson has staged several similar marches in the liberal city in recent months that have ended with people hospitalized and arrested.

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