Demonstrators and far-left Antifa members who arrived to disrupt the planned demonstration began arriving at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in the early afternoon, with several hundred people there by 2:30 p.m. local time, the Portland Police Bureau stated.
People also gathered about 10 miles northeast, in northeast Portland.
Brawls broke out in both areas.
“Some individuals committed acts of violence and property destruction both in downtown Portland and in the Argay Terrace Neighborhood after some people physically challenged each other,” the bureau said in a statement.
“There were no immediate arrests, but detectives are reviewing evidence to determine whether charges can be brought for any criminal activity,” police added.
Video footage showed known members of the right-wing Proud Boys group and the anarcho-communist Antifa network, both of which have carried out violence before, brawling on city streets.
In many cases, no police officers were in sight.
It isn’t clear who started the brawls; according to one photographer on the ground, a group of Antifa members crashed a van into a demonstration and started throwing explosives, triggering a fight.
In other cases, Antifa members harassed and assaulted locals, including street preachers and a homeless man carrying a “do not tread on me” flag, as well as journalists, while the Proud Boys smashed vehicles and assaulted counterprotesters leaving the city.
Members of both groups carried weapons, including guns.
Before the events on Aug. 22, officials said police officers “would not intervene” in street fights.
“As stated before today’s events, officers were not deployed to stand in between individuals intent on confronting one another. But that does not mean the crimes committed will not be addressed. Arrests do not always happen in the moment. As in past such events, we are conducting follow-up investigations, gathering evidence, and will make arrests when probable cause exists that specific persons committed crimes,” the bureau said in a statement.
The agency also said that no city bureaus were involved in facilitating, supporting, or issuing permits for any of the gatherings on Aug. 22, before adding that it supports First Amendment rights.
The violence has led to only one arrest so far. A man identified by authorities as Dennis Anderson, 65, of Gresham, was booked on unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful use of a weapon before being released.
Photographs and video clips showed a white male firing a handgun downtown as people took cover behind cars.
Police later said they were seeking another shooter or shooters and that “a group of people” may have been pursuing Anderson before the shots were fired.
Riots have broken out in Portland repeatedly since spring 2020. The violence has primarily been fomented by left-wing groups such as Antifa.
On Aug. 22, 2020, a similar clash unfolded in front of the Multnomah County Justice Center.