Demonstrators aligned with Patriot Prayer and an affiliated group, the Proud Boys, gathered around mid-day in a riverfront park.
The hundreds of opposing demonstrators faced them from across the street, holding banners and signs. Many of them yelled out chants such as "Nazis go home."
Police officers in riot gear stood in the middle of the four-lane boulevard, ensuring the two groups stay separated.
The counter-protesters were made up of a coalition of labor unions, immigrant rights advocates, democratic socialists and other groups. They included people dressed as clowns and a brass band blaring music.
The rally organized by Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson was the third to roil Portland this summer. Two previous events ended in bloody fistfights and riots, and one counter-protester was sent to the hospital with a skull fracture.
This time, Gibson changed the venue from a federal plaza outside U.S. District Court to a waterfront park so some of his Oregon supporters could carry concealed weapons as they demonstrate.
Protesters saw a significant police presence that included bomb-sniffing dogs and weapons screening checkpoints. In a statement, police said weapons may be seized if there is a violation of law and added that it is illegal in Portland to carry a loaded firearm in public unless a person has a valid Oregon concealed handgun license. Many protesters are expected to be from out of state.
Gibson's insistence on bringing his supporters repeatedly to this blue city has crystallized a debate about the limits of free speech in an era of stark political division. Patriot Prayer also has held rallies in many other cities around the U.S. West, including Berkeley, California, that have drawn violent reactions.
But the Portland events have taken on outsized significance after a Patriot Prayer sympathizer was charged with fatally stabbing two men who came to the defense of two young black women — one in a hijab — whom the attacker was accused of harassing on a light-rail train in May 2017.
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