Warning: At the bottom of this article, beneath a subheading noting what follows, are grisly photographs of injuries.
I have known Andy Ngo for several months. I am not sure how we met, but I may have written him on Twitter and he wrote me back. That is to the best of my memory.
We both live or have lived in Portland and both of us have had experience with Antifa. I suppose we connected over that. We have gone to a few things together and spent enough time in the car to have those conversations you wouldn’t normally have just hanging out. While I don’t know Andy very well, I feel like I know him enough to speak about his character and professionalism.
I respect him. His intellect and curiosity about people. He has such a lovely way of asking questions and getting people to talk in conversation. His mind is quick, he is funny and sweet. He also takes his work seriously and strives to be fair in his coverage. I think he is what a journalist should be.
Andy and I planned to go together to this rally and counter protest set for June 29th. He expressed concern about Antifa targeting him, and asked if I would be there to be a witness and document what happened. We met up on the edge of the park, where Antifa had planned their counter protest.
While walking into Lonsdale Square, I could see people handing out free milkshakes, complete with the Antifa symbol on the cups.
The people serving the milkshakes were also making them in the square. I am skeptical of the story going around that said they were adding quick-setting concrete mix to the milkshakes. It is possible someone was picking up a single shake, walking off with it, then adding cement mix, but there have been no official confirmations of this. Several people were drinking their shakes.
As Andy was walking around Lonsdale Square, he was recording with his GoPro video camera and narrating the scene. Frequently Black Bloc, the more militant wing of Antifa, would come up to physically block him from filming by surrounding him very closely. People also taunted him and us and waved signs in his face.
This guy above walked up to Andy from behind, not realizing I was watching him and taking pictures of the scene. I saw him reach into his fanny pack as he got close to Andy. Then I said, “Hey, what are you doing?”
He immediately swerved away and took off at a jog. I gave chase to try and get a better picture, but was blocked by people to keep me from doing so. I don’t know what he was going to take out of his fanny pack, but it wasn’t a milkshake.
The picture above is a perfect example, if fairly tame, of how Antifa would block and crowd Andy while he was filming and reporting. He was not loud or obtrusive at all. They were determined to block and harass him at every turn.
For some reason they don’t bother Katie Shepherd of the Willamette Week or Jason Wilson of The Guardian. Both have given Antifa very favorable coverage compared to their coverage of the opposing groups of Patriot Prayer, Proud Boys, and Haley Adams.
The above is the typical proximity of the Antifa crowding. I am not easily intimidated in these settings, and neither is Andy, but it is unnerving to have people so close to you covered head to toe in black and knowing it isn’t possible to identify them if they do commit a crime.
Sometimes they are silent, and other times they are aggressive or mocking, whatever seems to rattle you the most. Not reacting is the best defense. Shortly after this picture was taken, Andy was assaulted for the first time.
A tall man wearing medic clothing and a medic backpack walked up in between us and threw a milkshake on Andy. He turned and calmly walked away. I gave chase, and when he saw I was coming after him with my camera, he ran. I was then blocked repeatedly byAantifa as I was trying to get a good shot of the attacker.
It is scary because it is unexpected, people cheer and laugh, and no one knows what is in the liquid thrown on them. Andy had to walk out of the park to clean up and so he could make a police report.
I asked the police to arrest the person, as I could identify him if they came with me at the time. They said they could not safely go in to the park but would take copies of my photos for the report. Later, I saw a video of the same man hitting a bystander in the back of the head with a bike lock, resulting in a serious injury.
As Andy was making the report, this man above walked up and offered cookies he had baked. He said he thought these protests needed more love and sweetness. He seemed sincere and insisted I take a cookie. He ate one, so I did, too. It was good. Surreal experience. I saw the man later as he was walking with Antifa still handing out cookies. A very Portlandia scene.
This woman above mocked Andy as he walked by, asking how he enjoyed his milkshake.
Above shows the immediate aftermath of the second milkshaking (assault). It’s Andy and the person who assaulted him. I gave chase as well to get another photograph and let the police know it had happened again. They gave the same response as above. Andy made a second report and went back in. I followed.
This time the milkshake had gotten in his eye and we became concerned about what was really in those. He cleaned up, though, and went back in. He was definitely rattled, as I was. Anytime someone is walks up and throws something at you in that hyper-agressive kind of setting, it is unnerving.
The above shows some of Antifa’s rhetoric: “You will be replaced.” The “okay” sign is to them synonymous with Proud Boys and some Trump supporters.
Antifa were gathering to march out of the park and onto the streets of downtown Portland. It was an unpermitted march that closed down several streets on a very busy Saturday.
Here they are marching, a sea of black. They are covered head to toe, so it’s nearly impossible to identify anyone who commits a crime. They took over the street, only receiving pushback from the police when they neared the waterfront, a popular tourist and weekend destination.
They were chanting “ACAB, all cops are bastards.” There were also chants about Proud Boys and about Ngo. The organized groups in attendance that I noticed included: Black Bloc, Democratic Socialists of America (the DSA), and Skinheads, both RASH and SHARPs.
The banner Antifa carried in front of their march had a message for a group known as Proud Boys. This counter protest was planned in opposition to a Proud Boy event that took place on the same day in downtown Portland. The two groups had no interaction that day, unlike previous events where there were massive brawls.
The police were allowed to create a barricade to turn them around at this point. Antifa just turned around and marched a different direction. This is one way the police are able to enforce some rule of law.
This is the last picture I got of Andy. Shortly after this, I was surrounded and mobbed by a group of Black Bloc, who were screaming at me, calling me a fascist, and telling me I had to leave, all while encircling me.
Often at these events the attack comes from the side or back, so I tensed up, waiting for a blow or pepper spray. None came, however, and the crowd thinned. And Andy was gone. The next time I talked to him was after he was viciously assaulted and on the way to the hospital.
Graphic Pictures of Another Brutal Antifa Attack
Shortly after Andy was attacked, a man named Adam Kelly, who had come to downtown to another event, was beaten by at least three assailants. One had a bike lock and strongly resembled the person who threw a milkshake on Ngo earlier in the day.
When Adam went to help another man who had been attacked and was on the ground, he was viciously attacked from behind. These three pictures below are not mine. He took the time to talk to me last night in spite of a vicious headache from the concussion he got, which took 25 staples to close. Photo credit: Adam Brody.
It is difficult to end on this note. Two severely injured men, who had done nothing to deserve what happened to them, and no justice in sight.
The attackers were masked and may not be brought to justice. One man was there to cover the events of the day as a journalist, the other was there to attend a rally, and both were there to express their First Amendment rights. The Portland mayor, Ted Wheeler, seems powerless to stop the violence, or lacks the will to stop it.
I returned home safely, fortunately. My coverage of these events started more than two years ago, and has encompassed three states and several cities. I’m left wondering What happens next time? Who is coming home with his head split open? Or worse, who isn’t coming home at all?