Police arrested at least 14 people Sunday at a free-speech rally in Portland, Oregon organized by President Trump supporters that attracted an anti-Trump “antifa” protest, resulting in violence. Antifa is a loose coalition of self-described “antifascists” known for using violence and vandalism against their political opponents, including at the U.S. capital during President Trump’s inauguration in January.
Photographer Chelly Bouferrache attended the Portland rally and took the following photographs, including the eyewitness descriptions below. Warning: obscene language depicted and quoted.
We were walking up to the Trump Free Speech Rally and had to walk through protesters (many who were Antifa and anarchists) in order to get there. The person with the red kerchief was screaming at the police, “Fuck you, pig. I hope you motherfuckers die!”
Antifa protestors wore black, covered their faces, wore some kind of glasses and helmets.
Protestors across the street from the Trump rally in Chapman Square. The rally was surrounded by protests on three sides. The fourth side is a building that wouldn’t have room for a protest. So to get in or out of the rally the majority of people had to walk a gauntlet of protestors. They weren’t nice.
Police in riot gear walking into Chapman Square, just before they closed Chapman Park.
Three journalists. Two were outfitted in a lot of gear. Helmets and such. The woman in hijab was also a journalist I believe. She was approached by one of the III% United Patriots (a militia group). He talked to her and made sure she was okay, told her he wanted to make sure she felt comfortable and that if she needed anything or had a problem to find any of the people providing security and they would help her. I overheard this myself and talked to the man immediately after.
Police had started to clear protestors from Chapman Park using tear gas and flashbangs.
Police in riot gear giving me the peace sign as they drove by. At this point we were trailing the protestors, who had decided to march the streets of Portland once they were kicked out of the parks. The police were coming in from several directions all at once.
Protestor and police square off. The march had been stopped at this point and the protestors were boxed in to one single block on a city street.
Policeman stopped people from leaving that area (in preparation to arrest some for disorderly conduct). Guy who wasn’t allowed to leave filming the officer.
Looking down on the protestors who were being detained by police. They had been boxed in to that single block.
Inside the Trump rally. Head gear and eye gear and protective vests were not quite the norm, but close. I asked a few wearing it why and the response was protestors like to throw projectiles. Bricks, rocks, soda cans, human feces, etc.
Some of the men from the group called the “Proud Boys.” I was informed they were anti-feminist, revere the traditional housewife, and think women belong in the home. Later I got a longer and much more nuanced explanation from the guy in the gray Proud Boys T-shirt. The one with the red beard I had talked to first and he seemed to be defensive. I believe he thought I was either a journalist or anti-Trump. I was just curious about the group and wanted to know what they stood for. That was kind of jarring.
The lady in the middle with the white shirt told me she was a great-grandmother. She also said that President Trump was going to make America great again.
The guy in the grey sweatshirt is Internet famous. I was introduced to him as “Based Stickman.” He was holding court — taking pictures with people and signing things and talking with people.
Based Stickman with the Gadsden Flag.
Trump rally during the speeches. Sure looked to be more than the 200 people Willamette Week reported.
Protesters of the Antifa variety running down the street with a Mercury newspaper bin. I don’t know what the Mercury ever did to them, but it must have been bad.
I told the guy I liked his mask and asked if I could take his picture. Also asked what he was planning doing with the bottle of red stuff. He said it was paint and he was going to spray Trump people with it. I don’t know if he did or not because I left right after.
This is self-explanatory.
Antifa on the march, after being kicked out of the park, before they got boxed in.
This guy was with the fellow who was telling the police he wanted them to die (in the much earlier picture). I went up to him while his friend was screaming, introduced myself, and asked him why the uniform and the helmets. His explanation was they wanted to hide their identities because Trump supporters had gone after them in the past. The helmets were to protect themselves from violent Trump people and the police.
I asked if they really wanted the police to die, pointing to his friend, who was still screaming obscenities at the police. He said “Oh no. We are just mad with how the police are treating our friends. We don’t really want them to die.” I asked if I could take his picture and he said yes. Asked his name and he gave me a pseudonym. What struck me was how soft-spoken and polite he was to me.
Antifa burning the flag. I was amazed no one caught on fire.
Some Parting Eyewitness Thoughts
At one point I stood with a different photojournalist taking pictures of Antifa from the Trump side. I asked him some questions about the protestors. He explained that at some point Antifa would more than likely start throwing stuff and the police would then kick them out of the park. They had already thrown bloody tampons (I saw these) and feces (I smelled it and heard about it).
While we were standing there the person with him noticed a woman holding what looked like a Molotov cocktail. Looking through the lenses it sure looked like it. They told the police and a few minutes later dozens more police arrived and announced the closure of the park. I have no idea if those two things were connected but one happened right after the other. Flashbangs and tear gas happened soon after.
I was taking pictures of Antifa in the street and one of them, a woman, told me to stop taking pictures. I said “No,” and continued to take pictures. She took her backpack off and unzipped it, at which time my friend told me to watch it, that I was probably going to get maced. She pulled out an Antifascist flag and held it up to block my view. She continued to follow me around until I left the area.
We followed another photographer friend as Antifa marched through the city until they were boxed in. Police then used tear gas (not exactly sure why). Some of them were trying to escape up into the parking structure and they threw tear gas into the stairwell. As I was bent over retching, wheezing, snotting, and sneezing, one of the protestors walked over to me and asked if I was okay. I explained I have asthma. She whipped out an inhaler and stuck it in my hand (I had left mine in the car) and insisted I keep it.
She waited until I caught my breath and quit coughing, then pulled out a little plastic packet of Kleenex and insisted I take that. I asked if I could take her picture and she said yes. I asked why she was there. She said she was LBGTQ and really afraid of what was going to happen under Trump. Her name was Nika. I would have been done for the day and had a hard time getting back to my car if it wasn’t for her. Just a nice moment at an ugly time. This is her looking for the pack of Kleenex.
The police I saw were absolute professionals. Amazing how they handled everything. Their job must seem, at times, so thankless.