A man wearing a hat with the insignia of the group Patriot Prayer — the alt-right group that attempted to stir the pot in the Bay Area in the summer of 2017 by planning pro-gun and pro-Trump rallies here in an effort to incite street battles with anti-fascist groups — was fatally shot in the streets of downtown Portland Saturday night.
A large counter-protest of Trump supporters and Patriot Prayer members gathered a car and truck caravan in the suburbs of Portland on Saturday with a plan to encircle the city on freeways. But, as the New York Times reports, some of the caravan broke off and headed into downtown Portland, where protests against police violence and general unrest have been ongoing for three months — though the numbers of people participating have shrunk in recent weeks.
While the Patriot Prayer/pro-Trump caravan was itself a sort of counter-protest to the far-left-associated demonstrations that have occupied downtown Portland, those downtown protesters became counter-protesters themselves Saturday night, confronting and occasionally clashing with the Trump supporters. It is unclear at this point if it was one of these confrontations or something else entirely that ended with the as-yet-unidentified man in the Patriot Prayer hat dead of a gunshot wound to the chest.
The Oregonian has photos from the scene, via an Associated Press photographer, and they report that the shooting took place five blocks from the main epicenter of the recent protests. It remains unclear who the shooting suspect may be.
Joey Gibson, the founder of Patriot Prayer, spoke to the Times and said that the shooting victim was "a good friend." President Trump used the event to make further calls for the National Guard to step in to control the situation in Portland — to which Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler replied that the last time the president did this it only incited more anger and violence on the streets. "Your offer to repeat that disaster is a cynical attempt to stoke fear and distract us from the real work of our city," Wheeler said.
Gibson should be well known to Bay Area residents for major muckraking he attempted to do exactly three years ago, in the wake of Charlottesville in August 2017, when he announced plans for a Patriot Prayer rally in the middle of San Francisco — first at Crissy Field and then in Alamo Square — likely costing the city tens of thousands of dollars in safety preparations for an event that was ultimately canceled at the last minute. Unable to stir much shit in SF, Gibson turned to Berkeley two days later, where he and his idiot friends — some clad in football gear and carrying shields and other implements into battle — showed up to incite conflict with antifa activists. He later had to be "rescued" by Berkeley police when he and his cohort were outnumbered.
The purpose of the Patriot Prayer group, which Gibson founded in 2016, has seemed to be to support Second Amendment rights and do battle with antifa, with an "anti-Marxism" ethos — though the New York Times says the group is all about "promoting Christianity and smaller government." While not labeled a hate group, per se, Patriot Prayer has been known to participate in rallies alongside militias and hate groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center — with Portland and Seattle often being targets, as they are nearer to Gibson's home in Vancouver, Washington. The SPLC calls the group "provocateurs" whose events are meant "to provoke black-clad ideologues on the left into acts of violence."
In June, Patriot Prayer helped organize a protest in Vancouver against Washington State's mask-wearing policy to slow virus transmission.
This post will be updated if and when more information is learned about the shooter, or if a suspect is identified.