Portland braces for dueling protests that could turn violent Sunday

An image from FaceBook for the “Trump Free Speech Rally Portland” page.
An image from FaceBook for the “Trump Free Speech Rally Portland” page.

The political and cultural divide that has split America will be brought together Sunday in Portland and police are preparing for the worst.

A pro-President Donald Trump rally will be held across the street from from an anti-hate rally.

“There will be a robust law enforcement presence due to online threats of violence between different groups,” the Portland Police Bureau said in a statement Thursday.

Portland was rocked by the death of two men and the wounding of another who came to the defense of two women during an anti-Muslim tirade on one of the city’s light-rail trains.

The rally is a response to that tragedy.

“Now is the time to show these bigots, this country, and the world that Portland stands united and will not tolerate this hate,” orgaziners said. “We must reclaim our city and repudiate the violence and hatred of the far-right.”

But many have called for a cancellation of the rally, fearing violence.

Organizers behind “Portland Stands United Against Hate” said they will not heed calls to cancel it, The Oregonian reports.

The rally is scheduled to run 12:30-4 p.m. Sunday at City Hall, according the group’s FaceBook page. 1,500 people have indicated they will attend.

Meanwhile, a “Trump Free Speech Rally Portland” is being held 2-5 p.m. at Terry D. Schrunk Plaza, just one block away from City Hall.

“Thank you Trump for all you have done,” the group’s FaceBook page says. “The rally will be an uplifting experience to bring back strength and courage to those who believe in freedom.”

The organizer, Joey Gibson of Vancouver and his group Patriot Prayer, said white nationalists will not be allowed into the event.

The rally features Kyle Chapman, who calls himself “Based Stickman.” “Based” refers to not caring what others think and “Stickman” is a reference to a large stick he used at an earlier dust-up, according to the New York Times.

Chapman, through his FaceBook page, called the Saturday Times story, “The latest hit piece by New York Times Propagandist Alan Feuer.”

Feuer is a newspaper reporter.

“I’ve been in contact with the Portland rally organizer Patriot Prayer Joey Gibson,” Chapman wrote. “He has assurances from (Portland Police) and Homeland Security that the rally will be protected and the Antifa/ SJW libtards will be held accountable for their actions.”

“Antifa” is shorthand for anti-facism. “SJW” refers to “social justice warrior” — a facetious slam against social justice activists.

Each rally will likely have counter-demonstrators.

Labor and immigrant rights defenders are mobilizing, “to Stop the Fascists” at Schrunk Plaza, they say.

Members of the Oath Keepers, a group of current and retired military and law enforcement members, are providing security at the the Schrunk Plaza event.

“That should come as no surprise, but I wanted to be sure you knew,” founder Stewart Rhodes wrote.

However, in a later post, Rhodes said Oregon Oath Keepers leaders, “got cold feet and were unwilling to do any security op in Portland.”

The post has a photo showing men and women holding police-type shields and wearing helmets.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, @crsailor