Portland, Oregon police were pelted with objects by leftists protesting a Donald Trump free speech rally on Sunday.
The police were present to keep the leftist antifa from clashing with Trump supporters. No Trump supporters or officers were reported hurt by the violence initiated by the left.
Salt-of-the-earth Americans who support President Trump just want to be left alone to enjoy each other’s company at rallies like the Sunday event, but the left has repeatedly disrupted these events in the past.
Portland, Oregon (CNN)At least 14 people were arrested on Sunday amid competing protests in Portland, Oregon, over a tangled web of emotions to arise from a deadly commuter train stabbing in May.
Hundreds of supporters of US President Donald Trump converged on Terry D. Schrunk Plaza for an event billed as a “Trump Free Speech” rally. They were slightly outnumbered by a mixed assemblage of counterprotesters across the street who viewed the free speech rally as an implicit endorsement of racism given its close timing to the racially charged stabbing.
The groups were separated by a wall of officers, heavily armed and wearing protective body armor, from local and federal police agencies.
What began as a tense exchange of name-calling and profane insults took a turn when counterdemonstrators began throwing glass bottles, bricks and balloons of “foul-smelling liquid” at officers, Portland police said. Officers used pepper spray to push back the counterdemonstrators and closed the park where they had gathered, threatening to arrest anyone who remained.
Portland police did not indicate which side those arrested belonged to. CNN crews on the scene observed that most of the arrests were concentrated in the area of counterdemonstrators.
Three of the 14 arrested were given citations by federal officers and released, according to a statement from the Portland police department.
Of the other 11, most face charges of disorderly conduct, police said. Other charges against various protesters included carrying a concealed weapon, interfering with a peace officer and harassment, the police statement said.
The rallies came in the wake of the stabbing deaths on May 26 of Ricky Best, 53, and Taliesin Namkai-Meche, 23, as they tried to defend two Muslim women from what police described as a barrage of hate speech.
Suspect Jeremy Joseph Christian raised the free speech issue in his arraignment last week.
“Get out if you don’t like free speech!” he shouted as he entered the courtroom on Tuesday. “You call it terrorism; I call it patriotism. Die.”
Anti-facists have become a recurring presence at events testing the limits of free speech. They were blamed for riots that led to the cancellation of conservative firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos’ scheduled talk at The University of California, Berkeley, and have shown up at events featuring Ann Coulter.
They tend to equate such events with fascism and Nazis, messaging that was evident in signs declaring “No more Nazis.”
On each side Sunday, protesters carried signs reflecting a variety of causes. Counterdemonstrators chanted expletive-ridden slogans denouncing Trump. They carried signs proclaiming “Supporters of Trump are traitors to America” and “Freedom ends where harm begins.”
Across the street, Trump supporters waved “Make America Great Again” signs and wore the corresponding red hats.
In addition to the arrests, a large pickup truck flying two large American flags cruised past hundreds of anti-fascist protesters and honked its horn. Several people in the group ran up to the truck and ripped out the flags, bringing them into the crowd as others applauded. Others threw multiple large water bottles, sticks and other projectiles at the truck, which then sped away.