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August 20

Report from PopMob in Portland about the mass antifascist actions against the Proud Boys and neo-fascist groups last Saturday.

Saturday, Portlanders were faced with a terrible decision: stay home while fascists descend on their city and attack people, or stand together against hate knowing there was a high likelihood Portland Police Bureau would once again violently attack Portlanders who came out to protect their city. In the days leading up to The Spectacle, police and city representatives ramped up their campaign of fear mongering in an attempt to keep Portlanders from coming together — they even released a map promoting other events happening around the city.

PPB and city officials’ efforts to prevent Portlanders from standing up to the bigots terrorizing our city ultimately failed; Over a thousand everyday antifascists showed up, vastly outnumbering the far-right agitators. And it was spectacular. Many demonstrators at The Spectacle told us they hadn’t come out to many (or any) protests before today, and several expressed appreciation for the opportunity to participate in novel ways — from interfaith meditation and Shabbat services to a dance party with a full brass band. Together we stood as one diverse, strong, united community and it was beautiful. We spent our morning cheering on incredible performances and speakers, including NAACP’s E.D. Mondaine, Rabbi Deborah Kolodny, The Unpresidented Brass Band (in full Banana Bloc regalia), Mic Crenshaw, and the jaw-dropping moves of The House of Flora and The House of Ada.

For those who couldn’t join us in person, we organized a fundraiser with the help of CAUSA (a local immigrant rights organization) and Pacfic Northwest United Against Hate. We asked people who could afford it to pledge per fascist who showed up to the Proud Boys rally on Saturday. The pledges that flooded in from all over the country ranged from two cents to five dollars a fascist. We’re still in the process of adding the hundreds of pledges we received. But the message is clear: People everywhere are fed up and ready to push back against fascism.

Instead of hiding in fear alone in our homes, we chose a joyful display of community resilience — a reminder of the power we have when we come together. Unfortunately, our joy didn’t last long. After allowing Haley Adams and a group of known fascists to march through our event early in the day, police gave Proud Boys exclusive access to the Hawthorne Bridge, which had been closed to traffic all morning. Police opened the bridge solely to escort the hate group across, then re-closed it to the rest of the Portland community. It is outrageous that the Portland Police Bureau bends over backwards to accommodate violent, out of town extremists like The Proud boys again and again, while leaving Portlanders vulnerable to attack. This actively jeapordized the safety of our city, especially people of color, the LGBTQIA2S community, people with disabilities, and those who are houseless.

In a press conference, the PPB claimed they allowed the fascists across the bridge to ensure “safety.” Instead of keeping everyone safe, the PPB’s decision to provide Proud Boys exclusive access to the Hawthorne Bridge only kept the fascists safe, while endangering the residents of southeast Portland. When the Proud Boys didn’t find the fight they were looking for on the east side of Portland, they doubled back across the river in groups and began hunting down and harassing Portlanders throughout the city. A particularly violent extremist, John Turano, accompanied by his adult daughter, attacked an unarmed and unprotected group of demonstrators at Waterfront Park, with no police to be seen. Thankfully the community was protected by antifascists who put their own bodies and safety on the line to chase the fascist pair out of the park. Later, one of our spokespeople (Effie Baum), witnessed Turano chasing a transwoman and her non-binary wife north down Park Ave. They ran for their lives, ultimately ducking into a restaurant and hiding until they felt safe enough to emerge.

The militant Portland Police Bureau has repeatedly joined these groups in terrorizing and punishing Portlanders. Law Enforcement Today (a widely read police blog and newsletter) echoes the same sentiments and desire to hunt antifascists; their stories about yesterday contained the same far right rhetoric we’ve been seeing from the fascists. But it’s the people of Portland who are left with the ramifications.

We are already seeing new lies and rumors widely circulating about antifascists — but, as always, those will melt away just like the “cement” milkshakes. The Proud Boys vow to be back next month, but the amazing coalition building that happened in the last month was just the start. If they come back, Portland will come together to stand again and next time there will be more of us. If yesterday showed us anything, it’s that when we come together as a strong, united community, we can hold down our public space and keep it safe from fascists. The state does not protect us, we protect us.

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PopMob

A group of concerned Portlanders united around a single, common goal: inspiring people to show up and resist the Alt-Right.

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