Antifa groups declared they were prepared to fight Patriot Prayer protesters in Portland, Oregon, with “militant resistance,” even though local police advised demonstrators to leave weapons at home in what is expected to be a violent showdown between the groups on Saturday.
“History has shown that militant resistance is a necessary and important tool in the fight against fascism,” the Resist Patriot Prayer: Violent Alt-Right Bigots Off Our Streets Facebook event page said. “We make no apologies for the use of force in keeping our communities safe from the scourge of right-wing violence.”
Patriot Prayer has held several marches in Portland in recent months, though they developed into fistfights and riots with opposing groups, according to The Associated Press.
The last march, which turned violent, was on June 30.
“It was a tough battle, but we stood our ground and risked or sustained arrest and injury to do what is right,” the event page said, referring to the June 30 rally. “We may not be muscle bound gym rats, we certainly aren’t the sort of sadistic bullies we are facing, but never the less we have to go out there and be the ones willing to physically protect people already under attack in our communities.”
Joey Gibson, a Patriot Prayer leader and Republican U.S. Senate candidate for Washington, said in a Facebook video Monday that the group has always carried guns because they refused to be victims of gun violence.
“We never had guns to the intent to use it because we don’t want anyone to die,” Gibson said. “We just always had guns because we felt like number one, we should always be prepared for someone else stepping in there with a gun, some crazy dude with a gun.”
Gibson also said Portland does not respect self-defense.
“And so, I think it is easy for people in Portland to freak out especially if you cover your face and you use and your biggest weapon is a pole and you don’t know what it is like to be a real American and to have guns and to go shoot guns,” Gibson said in the Facebook video.
Patriot Prayer hired armed guards to accompany the protesters to Portland, though Gibson will not have a gun. Gibson hopes both sides will be able to exercise First Amendment rights.
“At the end of the day you can’t punch an ideology out of someone, you can only talk and learn and grow,” Gibson said, according to KOIN 6 News.
The Antifa groups, however, believed differently.
“The genocidal ideas they [Patriot Prayer] espouse and their belligerent tactics should not be dignified with a debate,” the Facebook page said. “They need to be routed.”
Portland police will try to make the area safe while also letting demonstrators uphold First Amendment rights.
Weapon screening areas and Explosive Detection Canines will be present in the area. Unauthorized items will be temporarily or permanently seized if detected, KOIN 6 reported.
Oregon does not allow weapons in public parks nor does it recognize concealed handgun licenses from states other than Oregon, according to KOIN 6. Portland City Code also does not allow loaded firearms to be carried in public parks.
The rally is expected to occur at Tom McCall Waterfront Park around 11:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.
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