Pro-police demonstrators carry guns, scuffle with detractors in downtown Portland

By Sergio Olmos (OPB)
Nov. 20, 2020 2:48 a.m.

A pro-police demonstration in downtown Portland on Thursday drew counterdemonstrators and required police to separate people, as confrontations between opposing political groups continued well after the election.

About 20 pro-police demonstrators, some armed with firearms and baseball bats, stood outside the Multnomah County Justice Center in downtown Portland to voice their opposition to recent Black Lives Matter protests. They described the event as a “back the blue” rally.


About the same number of counterprotesters stood across the street to oppose their presence. Many dressed in all black clothing. Some also carried guns and pepper spray.


Portland police officers checked gun permits of armed demonstrators in both crowds, briefly detaining one “back the blue” demonstrator for having a loaded rifle in downtown — a violation of city code.

The groups exchanged words and taunted each other throughout the afternoon Thursday. One pro-police demonstrator used a racist slur against a Black woman wearing a Black Lives Matter sweatshirt. Some of the members of the “back the blue” group defended the slur as no different from derogatory terms used against white people.

The event showed tensions continue to simmer in the wake of this month’s presidential election. During the week of the election, Oregon had braced for the possibility of significant violence, with Gov. Kate Brown even readying the National Guard at that time.

Though widespread violence did not emerge, smaller demonstrations around the state have led to confrontations.

Conservative activists have continued to support President Trump’s false claims that voter fraud led to his loss to President-elect Joe Biden. In Oregon, such groups plan to hold a “defeat the steal” rally in Salem this weekend.


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