A coalition of local and regional organizations issued a joint statement ahead of tomorrow’s Patriot Prayer and Proud Boys rally in Portland, Ore. The statement, organized by Western States Center, was signed by nearly 40 other organizations, including a regional body representing more than 50 tribes.
The groups warn that the potential for violence is even greater than with previous protests, which descended into violence. They are calling on Mayor Ted Wheeler, City Council members, Metro Council President Tom Hughes and Governor Kate Brown to act in their official capacities to denounce racist and sexist violence and coordinate with law enforcement to address the threat posed by the gathering.
The full statement and list follows:
On Aug. 4, violent far-right groups Patriot Prayer and Proud Boys have plans to descend upon Portland, Oregon, for yet another street fight. These groups have been involved in numerous violent incidents in Oregon, Washington, and communities across the country. They pair violence with bigotry: the groups’ leaders and members are known for making racist and sexist statements and aligning themselves with white nationalist groups despite occasional claims to the contrary.
The upcoming event may pose an even greater risk of violence than past brawls. Previous Patriot Prayer and Proud Boys rallies in Portland have been held at a federally owned park, in which guns are prohibited. The August 4th event is scheduled to be held at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park, on Portland city property. As a result, the rally would fall under Oregon’s open carry laws.
Patriot Prayer and Proud Boys are open about the violence they intend to inflict. Online messages from supporters about the groups’ brawls have threatened that the streets of Portland would be “cleansed.” Local Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer leader Tusitala “Tiny” Toese has previously told brawl participants to prepare for a “physical fight, whatever kind of fight — we’re coming… and we’re gonna raise hell.” Rallies organized by Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson over the past year have seen weakening turnout but increasing violence. At the groups’ most recent rally in Portland, Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer members beat someone so badly that he was hospitalized with a skull fracture.
White nationalists, racist skinheads, and other extremists have regularly been involved in past Patriot Prayer rallies. Similarly, Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes has contributed to openly white nationalist sites like VDare.com and American Renaissance. In recent months, he has claimed that “Muslims have a problem with inbreeding” and has called the Quran a “hate book.” He has also said that immigrant women are not very traumatized by rape because “they see it as just like having a teeth [sic] pulled,” and has made several statements asserting that violence is necessary.
The potent combination of bigotry and violence on the streets of Portland poses a serious threat to community safety, and particularly to residents who are people of color, women, and LGBTQ. It also represents an attack on local democratic institutions and their ability to maintain a safe environment for all residents. Both Patriot Prayer and Proud Boys embrace an anti-government ideology, making their violent challenge to democratic governance even more overt. For example, the Proud Boys website has listed “shut down the government” as a goal.
That Patriot Prayer and Proud Boys are able to make an entire neighborhood in downtown Portland a danger zone is an affront to the city’s responsibility to maintain public safety.
It is incumbent upon Mayor Ted Wheeler, each City Council member, Metro Council President Tom Hughes, and Governor Kate Brown to respond to this threat in an official capacity. The undersigned organizations and Tribes call on these elected individuals to appear publicly on August 4th. We call on them to use the power of their office to denounce the racist and sexist violence of Patriot Prayer and Proud Boys while upholding the values of democracy, equality, and community safety. Elected officials must not abandon the Portland community when we are under attack.
We also urge elected officials to work with law enforcement to take this threat seriously and undertake every effort to make Portland safe for everyone.
We are committed to building a community in which everyone is able to live, love, and work free from fear and discrimination. Speaking out against bigotry and violence is one step toward that vision.