Members of the far-right group Patriot Prayer positioned themselves on a rooftop in Portland with a “cache” of weapons ahead of a violent rally in August, city officials revealed on Monday.
“The Portland Police Bureau discovered individuals who positioned themselves on a rooftop parking structure in downtown Portland with a cache of firearms," Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said at a press conference. “After further review it has been determined that no firearms were seized or taken as safe keeping from the individuals,” his statement said. Assistant Police Chief Ryan Lee added that the individuals were Patriot Prayer members.
The Oregonian reports that police found four people above a garage with three rifles. Police inspected the rifles, none of which were loaded. Officers told the men, who explained they were there to "act as a quick extraction team'' in case a fellow member got injured on the ground, to put their rifles in a locked container in one of their pickup trucks. Police made no arrests and say no laws were broken and there was no danger to the public. The men had licenses to carry concealed weapons, police said.
Police said they saw another 20 to 30 people with protective equipment and make-shift weapons. Police said some in the group put their weapons in their vehicles while others said they would hold on to them but would not enter the protest area.
Police were later seen violently clashing with leftist counter-protesters throughout the day.
“Members of Patriot Prayer and its violent, punch-happy bodyguards, the Proud Boys, laughed and cheered behind barricades as cops fired dangerous rubber bullets and other nonlethal weapons at their opposition: a mix of local anti-racist and anti-fascist demonstrators,” HuffPost reported. “Cops nearly killed one of those these counter-protesters when an impact grenade penetrated a man’s helmet and embedded itself into his skull.”
The incident came after Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson warned that the group will defend itself against counter-protesters.
"Obviously, self-defense is going to happen," he said in video days before the protest. "You have to protect those who are brave enough to show up even though they can't really defend themselves... we have to make sure they're protected."
"Everyone should be carrying around guns at all times, especially in our situation," he added in another video days later.
InfoWars founder Alex Jones also pushed a claim that Portland antifa members were planning to bring guns to the event before the rally.
Wheeler said he learned about the guns on the rooftop while reviewing a proposed city ordinance to restrict protests by groups who have a history of violence.
His call for the new ordinance came after another violent clash between antifa and Patriot Prayer in Portland Saturday.
A Patriot Prayer rally that was billed as a march for “law and order” quickly devolved into bloody brawls between the group's members and the counter-protesters. Members of both groups were seen using bear spray, batons, and their fists in a brawl outside of a bar. The brawl was broken up by police, who fired pepper spray at the violent demonstrators.
Fellow far-right Trump supporters, The Proud Boys, were also seen being allowed to cause havoc in New York City this past weekend.
The group, led by Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes, was seen attacking three anti-fascist protesters in Manhattan and shouting homophobic slurs.
New York police responded to video of the beating by seeking help from the public to identify the attackers but said “no complaints” had been filed after the “violent incident.”
HuffPost reports that no members of the Proud Boys were arrested but three anti-fascist protesters were taken into custody and charged with assault.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo pointed the finger at the Republican Party, who allowed McInnes to speak at a Manhattan GOP club.
“They knew damn well what was going to happen when they brought the Proud Boys in here," Cuomo told reporters. “They knew damn well what the Proud Boys were going to say. They’re thugs. They are white nationalists. They are sexists. They are bigots. They believe equality is a negative for white people. This is the worst venom and vileness and they invited it into New York 22 days before the election.”
President Donald Trump and the Republican Party, who have repeatedly condemned the left and demanded “civility” after a number of Republicans encountered protesters, have been completely silent on the right-wing violence.