Portland rally, counter protests draw thousands

Police, over loudspeakers, are telling crowds gathering in the streets that they are engaging in illegal assembly and must disperse.

Portland police tweeted that two people have been arrested by the Federal Protective Service, and that officers are working to keep the groups separated.

Officers noted that the criminal behavior was limited to Chapman Square and noted that anyone remaining in the park could be arrested.

A Trump Free Speech rally is scheduled for the afternoon, and several groups are planning nearby rallies in opposition.

Since the election of President Donald Trump last fall, large protests have become common in downtown Portland and tensions have risen between ralliers - particularly those associated with the so-called "black bloc" anarchist movement - and police.

The double homicide has led to inflamed tensions between pro-Trump groups and Antifa.

While the two groups filled their permitted areas, officers with the Portland Police Bureau, as well as federal officers, worked to keep the peace between the groups, making arrests early in the day.

Dozens of black-clad, masked anti-Trump protesters waved an "Antifascist Action" flag at pro-Trump activists across the street at one point, yelling: "Nazis, go home", while members of the opposing rally, some carrying American flags, chanted: "USA, USA". That prompted officers to close two public squares and use pepper spray, flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets.

Two men were stabbed to death on the Portland light rail system last week after they stuck up for two girls (another man was also stabbed but survived the attack).

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One Trump supporter said she was marching in support of "free speech" after the mayor's attempt to silence the Patriot Prayer event. "You hear me? Die".

The attack on a Portland train has turned the city into the latest battleground over competing viewpoints related to life, liberty and race relations in the Trump era.

Gibson said some of those security personnel would have permits to carry concealed handguns and some were affiliated with militia groups, Portland's Oregonian newspaper reported.

Her son, Micah, was wounded and the other two were killed as they tried to intervene in what Portland police called "hate speech toward a variety of ethnicities and religions" directed at two women riding the train. Christian has been charged with aggravated murder and other counts.

Sunday's rally - in an outdoor plaza sandwiched between City Hall and the jail where Christian is being held - provided a vivid illustration of the city's divisions. Counter protests were organized by religious and labor groups. Terry D. Schrunk Plaza is federal property where guns are barred.

Federal officials declined the request, saying there was no legal basis to revoke the permit for "Patriot Prayer".

The planned rally, called the "The Trump rally for free speech", has been organized by a loose coalition of right-wing groups who have come together through the internet under the alt-right banner.

"Every single time I throw a rally, every single march, it's the same thing", Gibson said Wednesday. "I just don't know where it's going to start, but today could be a great start".

He said Patriot Prayer will have their own security to make sure his people stay in line.

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