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Truthout - August 20, 2019

"The story of how the protest and counterprotest played out illustrates how strong and broad the anti-fascist coalition has become."

The story of how the protest and counterprotest on Saturday played out illustrates how strong and broad the local anti-fascist coalition has become.

Approximately 250-300 far-right protesters were met with around a thousand anti-fascist counterprotesters Saturday in Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The “western chauvinist” street gang, the Proud Boys, described their rally as a protest against “domestic terrorism” — and they believe that the anti-fascist movement qualifies. In response, Portland anti-fascists crafted a counterprotest aimed at mobilizing and including nearly every segment of the community.

The coalition’s goal of inclusion, combined with the strategies commonly associated with “antifa,” gave the groups a unique toolkit that allowed the coalition to build bridges and increase the number of participants. The success of this method could be a game changer for communities looking to deal with similar far-right threats.

The Summer Cycle

Portlanders have become familiar with this new summer ritual, when far-right groups descend on the city and anti-fascist organizations respond in kind. This cycle began in 2016, when Trumpist group Patriot Prayer and their leader, Joey Gibson, staged a public rally for Trump in opposition to the city’s liberal consensus. White nationalists from groups like Identity Evropa joined Patriot Prayer, which brought out the ire of local anti-racist organizations. This conflict escalated after an attendee of a Patriot Prayer rally murdered two people in an Islamophobic attack on a Portland metro train. Since then, any appearance by Patriot Prayer, which has been supported en masse by the Proud Boys and a number of “Patriot” and militia organizations, has seen mass protests organized by growing coalitions of leftist, labor, community and anti-fascist groups. These have led to high-profile street brawls where Proud Boys have used gang-style attacks to critically injure protesters.

The August 17 Proud Boy rally was called after such an event on June 29, when right-wing reporter Andy Ngo was attacked by a masked counterdemonstrator. Ngo then made the media rounds, calling for “antifa” to be labeled as terrorists and getting some traction with a new Senate resolution introduced by Ted Cruz. Amid the mass right-wing show of support and donations for Ngo, a number of right-wing figures, such as former InfoWars correspondent Joe Biggs, called for this rally to stand up to the “domestic terrorism” it spuriously claims is coming from antifa. ...
Read full report at Truthout