THE PROUD BOYS claimed that they would bring legions of dedicated patriots to the city of Portland, Oregon, in a powerful show of strength against their anti-fascist foes, but when the moment of truth came on Saturday, the right-wing gang failed to deliver.
Despite weeks of hype and deep concerns over the possibility of severe and deadly violence, the organization, which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as a hate group, drew a modest crowd of angry men and women, whose brief gathering mostly consisted of swilling cheap beer and hard seltzers and assaulting journalists in a park on the edge of town. The absence of large-scale violence, which has so often defined the group’s forays into Portland over the past few years, came as a relief to a city that has been blanketed in wildfire smoke in recent weeks and targeted by the Trump administration as an “anarchist jurisdiction” for its nightly protests against police brutality.
In the run-up to the rally, Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency and established a law enforcement task force led by the Oregon State Police, which reportedly deployed approximately 500 officers to police the event. At most, several hundred people turned out for the demonstration, a far cry from the 20,000 participants and observers the Proud Boys had estimated in their request for a permit — the city denied the request, citing coronavirus restrictions that cap group gatherings at 50 people.