Portland officials probe allegations that police officers violently targetted anti-fascist protesters at far-right rally
Witnesses said that as police in riot gear were attempting to keep the two opposing groups apart, the officers preferred to protect the right-wing protesters.
An investigation has been ordered into the behaviour of the Portland police department officers at a far-right rally in Oregon on Sunday. The officers overseeing the demonstrations have been accused of cracking down against anti-fascist protesters present at the venue, according to reports.
Portland’s police chief, Daniella Outlaw, released a statement on Sunday that she was made aware of “allegations of injury as a result of law enforcement action” at the rally.
“I take all force applications by members seriously,” she said, adding that she has directed the state’s Professional Standards Division to “determine if force was used and if so, was within our policy and training guidelines.”
Witnesses said that as police in riot gear were attempting to keep the two opposing groups apart, the officers preferred to protect the right-wing protesters. They added that the officers fired flash-bang grenades at the anti-fascist protesters and shoved them out of the street where the event was taking place, according to HuffPost.
Reports state that a flash-bang grenade canister hit the head of one of the anti-fascist protesters.
CW: very graphic.— Dimestore Guevara (@wherestherevolt) August 5, 2018
My comrade was shot in the back of the head by @PortlandPolice today. He was hit with the very first flash bang the cops shot. Make no mistake this was an act of aggression and there will be hell to pay @tedwheeler #defendpdx #AllOutPDX pic.twitter.com/oSHqhpyzfC
An anti-fascist demonstrator and friend of the victim, 39-year-old Jenny Nickolaus, said: “I’m certain he would be dead if he wasn’t wearing a helmet. The trauma nurse said as much.” The canister reportedly pierced the helmet which the victim was wearing at the time.
Reports state that another woman was also injured with cuts and possible arm fracture after a flash-bang grenade hit her.
Portland Police Sgt. Chris Burley, while speaking to HuffPost, said that he was not aware of “anyone that received medical treatment for injuries suffered by actions of law enforcement. If someone reported being injured by police action today, we would like to speak with them.”
Spokesperson for Popular Mobilization, a coalition of anti-racist and anti-fascist groups formed for today’s counter-demonstration, Effie Baum, said: "Police launched a violent attack on the left that was unprovoked in an attempt to allow Patriot Prayer and Proud Boys to go on their march," referring to the two far-right groups present at the rally.
“When people say there was no violence today between the right and left, there was absolutely violence, and it was perpetrated by the police on the left," Baum added.
At least four people were arrested during the demonstrations.