The massive caravan of vehicles waving Trump 2020 flags led to more than a just a few violent encounters with anti-racist protesters.
The event, held as the city enters its third month of protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, was ostensibly meant to counter the Black Lives Matter demonstrations that have been sweeping the nation and have at times been marred by violence. But the parade appeared to only fan the flames, just hours after the latest night of demonstrations in the city ended with a fire set outside a police union building and several arrests. By late Saturday, police made several more arrests as fights broke out between anti-racist protesters and members of the pro-Trump caravan. As tensions boiled over, the street became a crime scene after a man was shot. No details were immediately available on his condition.
Black Lives Matter protesters lined the sidewalks and stood in the streets while Trump supporters streamed through the city waving giant Trump 2020 flags and shouting. Members of the MAGA parade were seen deploying pepper spray and shooting paintballs at counter-protesters standing along the streets. A man in a white truck with Trump flags pointed a firearm at counter-protesters through his window after his car was pelted with eggs.
Prior to the caravan’s arrival, sporadic fights broke out between Trump supporters and anti-racist demonstrators outside the Clackamas Town Center, where at least 600 vehicles had gathered in the parking lot ahead of the planned “cruise” through Portland. Members of the far-right Three Percenters were reportedly spotted in the crowd holding paintball guns as organizers delivered speeches to honor Trump, whom they described as “our great president.”
The rally was described by organizers as a “concealed carry” event but some participants were reportedly displaying weapons.
The caravan’s arrival in Portland, which has been the epicenter of anti-racism and police brutality protests in recent months, came just a day after Mayor Ted Wheeler sent President Trump a scathing open letter demanding the president keep his “politics of division and demagoguery” out of the city. Trump—who has repeatedly invoked Portland to fear-monger about the “rioting, looting, arson, and violence” he claims awaits the nation if his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, wins the presidential election—sent federal agents into the city in July and has taunted his critics with threats to do so again.