City defends hands-off policing after groups clash in Portland

Members of the far-right group Proud Boys and counterprotesters spray mace at each other during clashes on Sunday in northeast Portland.

Portland, Oregon (CNN)Fireworks, flares, pepper spray and projectiles like soda cans flew between far-right and counterprotesters in Oregon over the weekend, with protesters stopping several lanes of traffic, smashing vehicle windows and instigating several fights.

Police made one arrest near a demonstration in downtown Portland, but a police spokesperson said it was not clear whether the man was connected to the protests.
Violence was spread out in two locations, first coming to a head two hours into an event billed "Summer of Love," hosted by far-right group the Proud Boys and attended by members of other extremist groups. Initially set to take place downtown, the event was moved to the Argay Terrace neighborhood of northeast Portland.
Members of the far-right Proud Boys brawl with counterprotesters during rival rallies in Portland on Sunday.
Speaking to a small crowd at the parking lot of an abandoned Kmart, in front of a massive American flag and flanked by multiple men in military-style gear, self-identified Proud Boys member Tusitala "Tiny" Toese said, "If antifa shows up, then who's the bully?" pointing out that antifa would have to travel all the way from downtown.
Most attendees of the rally were armed, and those who were not holding live fire weapons had paintball or airsoft guns, or other weapons such as spiked batons, according to CNN journalists at the scene.
Members of extremist groups stand atop a banner at an abandoned Kmart in northeast Portland on Sunday.
Little by little at first, then in larger groups, several dozen counterprotesters dressed in black approached the rally. Some wore gas masks and bike helmets. Both sides began lighting fireworks and dispersing chemical sprays. Anti-fascists and far-left counterprotesters brawled with far-right protesters, including identifiable Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer members. People began shooting paint balls, throwing flash-bang grenades, destroying vehicles and engaging in hand-to-hand physical fights.
There were no identifiable police at the scene aside from one patrol car from the Oregon State Police, which drove through the area.
Protesters in the streets of a northeast Portland neighborhood lit fireworks and fired flash-bang grenades.
Portland Police warned Friday they would be monitoring the protests and prepared to make arrests, but said police would not be going into the crowd to break up fights.
"This is our main message: if you are planning to come down to instigate fights with those you disagree with, don't come," said Chief Chuck Lovell in a statement. "You should not expect to see police officers standing in the middle of the crowd trying to keep people apart. People should keep themselves apart and avoid physical confrontation."
Several law enforcement agencies including the Portland Police Bureau and the state police monitored Sunday's events, both in northeast Portland and at the demonstration downtown, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said in a statement Monday.
"Officers were within minutes of both locations, ready to take action immediately if the situation worsened and life safety was jeopardized," Wheeler said.
No arrests were made at the location in northeast Portland, but police said in a statement they are reviewing evidence from the scene "to determine whether charges can be brought for any criminal activity."
A few hours later, shots were fired in downtown Portland close to a demonstration between opposing groups at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, where "several hundred people" had amassed, according to Portland Police.
No injuries were reported, police said. An arrest was made minutes later and one gun was seized. A 65-year-old man was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful use of a weapon.
Police officers detain a man who opened fire with a handgun as a protest took place in downtown Portland on Sunday.
Portland Police Bureau spokesperson Sgt. Kevin Allen told CNN any connection between the man arrested and either group participating in Sunday's clash was not immediately available. Police are still looking for at least one more shooter, as a group of people may have been pursuing the gunman shortly before shots were fired, he said.
A CNN crew on the scene witnessed a person scream "Nazi!" immediately before the gunfire.
Neither the City of Portland nor the Portland Police Bureau have responded to CNN's request for comment following the events.