Why would a pack of violent street-brawling far-right thugs like the Proud Boys show up to demonstrate in a quiet little suburb like Gresham, Oregon—as they did on Wednesday?
The official, stated purpose of the demonstration in front of Gresham City Hall was to protest the presence of a Black Lives Matter (BLM) flag on the city’s plaza flag display. But in reality, the reason the Proud Boys showed up with their semiautomatic guns and Trump flags and MAGA hats was to spread fear among the people who live in suburbs—not fear of valiant “Patriots” like themselves, of course, but of Black Lives Matter and the “violent left.”
The rally—dubbed a “flag waving” event to support police officers while simultaneously protesting the BLM flag—was organized by a Proud Boy activist from Texas named Alan Swinney, who has made a habit of appearing at Portland area far-right protests, including the August 2019 Portland Proud Boys rally, as well as last weekend’s violence in the city’s downtown area.
Swinney was a notable presence at the latter rally, wielding a paintball gun to blast counterprotesters. He also was photographed brandishing a handgun and pointing it at protesters—which apparently has inspired an investigation by the Portland Police Bureau, which told Oregon Public Broadcasting it was trying to locate Swinney.
The crowd of about 100 protesters encountered a significantly larger crowd of counterprotesters there to defend the presence of the BLM flag—most of them local residents, unlike Swinney and his cohorts. These included a sizable contingent of the “Wall of Moms” bloc wearing yellow T-shirts.
The pro-Trump side chanted “All Lives Matter!” and were drowned out by louder chants of “Black Lives Matter!” Some protesters began pushing and shoving, at which point a line of Gresham Police officers moved in and separated the two sides for the remainder of the two-hour event.
If the anti-BLM protesters were hoping to get the flag taken down by Gresham officials, they failed: the city council—which met Wednesday evening to discuss removing the banner in order to avert violence caused by the Proud Boys—eventually emerged with a tie vote that kept it in place. At a similar protest in July, one of the anti-BLM protesters had also brandished a gun.
However, that wasn’t the purpose of these rallies. Neither was the rush to respond with a hysterical armed defense of small rural and suburban towns against the supposed imminent threat of hordes of black-clad leftists arriving in George Soros-funded “antifa buses” really about protecting those towns. Nor has it ever been the purpose of those heavily armed “III Percent” militiamen at anti-police brutality rallies in a number of small towns to actually “protect the rights” of the protesters, as many of them avow.
Rather, these events serve a twofold purpose: First, to threaten and intimidate pro-Black Lives Matter protesters; and second, to create violent and menacing images intended to persuade the people who live in these suburbs and elsewhere—people who are far removed from most of the events—that protests of any kind against police brutality promote “antifa,” “anarchism,” and Marxism, representing the “violent left.”
All this helps promote the far-right claim that Black Lives Matter is a violent “hate group”—while in fact it largely embodies the opposite of such organizations, and indeed has come into its own as a global civil rights movement in the past six months.
Which, more than anything, is a message that white supremacists do not want anyone to hear.
Republished with permission from Daily Kos.