Filed under: Action, Analysis, Anti-fascist, Northwest
Critical report back and analysis on recent mobilization against the Proud Boys in so-called Oregon City, Oregon.
Cover Image via Daniel V Media
For the past couple months there has been a flag wave held at the Berry Hill Shopping Center in so-called Oregon City on Fridays. Attendance has ranged between 40 and 60 participants. Members among the flag wave have included white nationalists and members of the Proud Boys from across the state. On June 4th, the flag wave split in two. The neo-fascists splintered off to the Oregon City Shopping Center 5 miles north. Daniel Tooze leading this effort reserved Clackamette Park on Fridays starting at 4PM. Tooze states these events are a voter registration drive. The reservations were for June 4th, June 11th, June 18th, and June 25th. There has been reports of them not allowing people they do not agree with into the park during these events. They feel like they have the right to monitor and police who come and go into both the parking lot and Clackamette park.
Proud Boys hate group member Daniel Tooze, who is running for State Representative in Oregon's district 40 (https://t.co/eWubAak6TB) also participated in the convoy. RCA has previously written about Tooze's targeting of Democratic Socialists https://t.co/EXgUyIBgHj pic.twitter.com/84NczrZ38i
— Always Antifascist (@RoseCityAntifa) April 7, 2020
In the weeks leading up to a planned counter-demonstration to the Proud Boys at Clackamette park, antifascists gathered intelligence, developed strategies for escape, and evacuation. The park was a tactically cumbersome location. While at the same time, there was a lingering possibility of us being put at further risk if there was a low turnout for the counter-demonstration. There were also a limited number of exits from the park, due to there being a river on the west side and a busy, 5-lane street on the eastern border. These factors made escape and evacuation plans the highest priority during the organization of the event. Due to there only being one road in and out of the park, participants were encouraged to park elsewhere.
We had also gathered intel on which proud boys would be in attendance and where they typically were located during past flag wave events. Flyers were created with their names and information listed, ready to be dispersed. After the action, this would allow us to identify the Proud Boys who engaged in the most violence and gather more information on their personal tactics.
Vehicle pickup points for evac team.
On June 18th, antifascists assembled in the north side of Clackamette Park. There were 5 medics, 25 others dressed in all black, and a table with zines, flags, signs, and mutual aid. Proud boys and associated white nationalists were gathered on the south side of the park near the entrance and a gazebo they had a rental for starting at 4pm.
Around 3 PM, a few people suggested to the group that we move south, closer to the entrance as it could possibly allow other comrades to find us more easily. The majority of the group collectively agreed and we began moving everything in that direction. We believe this ended up being a critical mistake; the new location put us within earshot of the white nationalists and we would no longer have an opportunity to discuss our options in private. Additionally, we became very distracted by the nationalists from this point forward, making a cohesive strategy almost impossible and obsolete because the confrontation had already begun.
Around 3:25 PM some noticed that our fighters were outnumbered. They attempted to get the group to circle up in a location out of earshot of the nationalists, unsuccessfully. Around this same time, a shield wall of about 12 antifascists assembled about 3 yards in front of the nationalists. The wall was rallying for people to fall in behind them; few if any came. Banter between the antifascists and the nationalists continued.
Proud Boy Barry Johnson (Salem Oregon) has been recruiting in his area and showing up to every flag wave in Oregon City. Him and Daniel Tooze (head of Proud Boy security) show up early and scout the gazebo together. This is not good folks. Violent Salem Fash in our backyard! https://t.co/qtKcK9cLqX
— Willamette Valley Hate Watch (@UsVSbullies) June 19, 2021
At about 3:40 PM the situation was stalled; lots of yelling back and fourth ensued. The day felt somewhat like it would remain this way and there would be no escalation. About 10 nationalists armed with bear spray and long wooden batons began to encircle/flank the group, ready to move in. There was a US flag on the ground that was being spit, stomped on and eventually set on fire. The burning of the US flag seems to be what set the Proud Boys off, and caused them to begin acting physically violent instead of just merely threatening violence verbally. The Proud Boys took this opportunity to surprise the group with a heavy barrage of bear spray and other unknown chemicals. Their attacks were reciprocated by antifascists, using bear spray, wire pull smoke grenades, and loud fireworks.
The Proud Boys pushed forward into a gazebo, for which they didn’t have a reservation for, all while blasting bear spray and assaulting people for no good reason. They raided everything that was stored there by antifascists. They stole EVERYTHING; including food, water, medical supplies, and personal belongings. An antifascist who was merely trying to protect property was sucker punched and bear maced by Gordon Cronk Jr. Additionally, Proud Boy Tommy Roy Campbell assaulted this individual and one other with a baton. There are videos available of this as well as identification available online from other sources.
Oregon State Police then issued a warning that a riot had been declared, and threatened arrest, use of force, and tear gas toward the people still in the park. It became increasingly obvious that this was directed entirely to the antifascist group, and that the police had no interest in arresting or using force against the Proud Boys.
Antifascists re-grouped and began to exit to the south along a path near a trailer park. During this exit, the Proud Boys followed, armed with paintball guns, slingshots, and a fire extinguisher filled with an unknown liquid. As we had regrouped, they had also, and were marching along a bike path at the south end of the park in a tight shield formation. It was from behind this shield line that they were launching their attacks. A few antifascists stood their ground during this and protected the group by defensively bear macing the Proud Boys forward moving shield wall; forcing the Proud Boys to halt. Numerous people were hit with paintballs and unknown objects fired from slingshots. The police did not interfere with either party during this time.
The nationalists and the antifascists were separated and a few altercations occurred, however things remained somewhat peaceful after this point and no more assaults took place.
Police agencies seen in or around Clackamette Park, including in the Oregon City Shopping Center parking lot:
- Oregon State Police
- Sandy Police
- Oregon City Police
- Multiple undercover cars
These cops did nothing to prevent the assaults that had happened, nor did they attempt to apprehend the Proud Boys who had committed them. One OSP officer, after about 10-15 minutes, walked up to a group of medics that were treating a severely injured antifascist, and offered to call an ambulance. When he was told that an ambulance was not wanted, and that he was not welcome in that space, he rolled his eyes and walked away. Again, the cops had no interest in actually preventing any harm or in stopping the proud boys assault.
Not a victory doesn’t mean there wasn’t any success. The city, as we imagined, has had enough of Daniel Tooze, his Proud Boys and their gang violence! pic.twitter.com/rzeCIH5a4l
— Willamette Valley Hate Watch (@UsVSbullies) June 23, 2021
Overall, the antifascists seemed to do a great job protecting people who were being assaulted. Anyone who was injured was immediately supported and protected by their comrades. Our fighters were outnumbered 3 to 1 but they held their own considering the circumstances. The medics on hand also did a great job helping those who were injured, and worked calmly and confidently while not only proud boys were bearing down on us, but police as well.
There are a few important lessons that can be learned from this counter demonstration.
Due to the violent nature of the groups we are demonstrating against there always needs to be a discussion in a safe setting with everyone present before any confrontation. It’s possible we could have done this if we did not immediately move to a location adjacent to Proud Boys.
Attendees need to always be aware of how potentially dangerous demonstrating against the Proud Boys can be. The antifascists requesting backup on the shield wall knew how things were going to turn out if we did not have a strong-appearing defense. If we look weak, the fascists will be emboldened to attack. They like to prey upon those they see as defenseless. With strong defensive posturing we could have avoided the assault, or been better prepared to deal with it.
Sealed goggles provide excellent protection from bear spray.
If you need to use pepper spray defensively be very selective with it’s usage. It had unintended side effects of preventing/dampening other defensive measures in the area.