Proud Boy Alan Swinney fires paintballs at antifascist counterprotesters during pro-Trump and pro-police demonstrations  on the 87th day of protests against police violence and systemic racism. Despite violence in the streets, police were notably absent and never declared an unlawful assembly.

Proud Boy Alan Swinney fires paintballs at antifascist counterprotesters during pro-Trump and pro-police demonstrations on the 87th day of protests against police violence and systemic racism. Despite violence in the streets, police were notably absent and never declared an unlawful assembly.

Jonathan Levinson / OPB

A Multnomah County jury returned several guilty verdicts Tuesday in the trial against Alan Swinney, a far right extremist who faced 12 charges stemming from his role in violent political clashes in downtown Portland during the summer of 2020.

THANKS TO OUR SPONSOR:

Swinney was found not guilty on one second-degree assault charge, but was convicted of the remaining counts, including unlawful use of a weapon, attempted assault, pointing a firearm at another, second-degree unlawful use of mace, among others.

Swinney has been held in Multnomah County jail since being arrested Sept. 30, 2020. He now awaits sentencing, and could face several years in prison.

“He came here, with a six shooter so he could terrorize our social justice movement here in Portland,” Multnomah County Senior Deputy District Attorney Nathan Vasquez said during closing arguments. “He is not a sheriff. He is not a law man. He has no authority over the streets here in Portland.”

Victims testify

During the trial, Swinney was accused of shooting Jason Britton in the face with a paintball gun during an Aug. 15, 2020 rally downtown. Britton was filming the altercations between the far right and antifascist counterdemonstrators while yelling at Swinney and his group as they retreated to a nearby parking garage.

Swinney turned around and shot Britton, though he claimed during testimony he meant to shoot another man wearing a gas mask.

Britton said his eye hurt for more than a week after and that his vision is still impacted by the shot.

“I had a dull throbbing pain in the area around my eye for the better part of a week,” Britton testified. “For about a month after that I actually had sensitivity to light, pain anytime I would walk out from a dark room into outside where it’s sunny. It hurt so bad I couldn’t even keep my left eye open for a good 20 seconds after walking out.”

In a recorded jail phone call played during the trial, Swinney admitted he hadn’t intended to shoot Britton but expressed little remorse.

“Too bad for him,” Swinney said.

Swinney was also accused of shooting Megan Steward in the chest with a paintball gun. Steward testified that she was walking by Chapman Square and the Justice Center when the Aug. 22 brawl was happening. She stopped to film the spectacle.

“I saw a line of men holding homemade wooden shields and wearing protective gear. It was a very odd sight...so I got out my camera to record it,” Steward said. “The moment I hit record, I looked up and there was a man standing straight behind the men holding shields, about a foot taller than everybody else, and he pointed a weapon straight at me and then fired.”

Steward said she was hit in the chest, knocking the wind out of her. She didn’t know what it was until she looked down and saw paint.

“Did she deserve to get shot with a paintball? Yeah,” Swinney said in the recorded jail call. “Am I glad? Yeah.”

Violence brought to Portland

THANKS TO OUR SPONSOR:

Swinney was among dozens of far right demonstrators on Aug. 22, 2020 who fired paintball guns and spraying mace at anti-fascist counterprotesters during a violent brawl. Many in the crowd were carrying firearms, but at one point Swinney pulled a revolver and pointed it at the crowd of counterprotesters.

He said in testimony he drew the gun because he ran out of paintballs and mace.

Swinney, who is from Texas, took the stand on the last day of testimony and said he had been concerned about the property damage and protesters “destroying the city” during the summer’s racial justice protests. At the height of the summer protests, Portland became a national focus for conservatives and members of the far right who trumpeted a so-called law and order message in the lead up to the presidential election.

Swinney testified that the Aug. 22 event was planned to show support for the police, who he said might feel “everyone is coming down on them.”

“I know these rallies are going to come out and be attacked,” Swinney said, explaining why he wore padding, a helmet, and came armed with a paintball gun, mace and a pistol to a rally almost 1,500 miles from his home. “I’m also not going to be terrorized in my own country.”

Swinney later admitted to shooting people wearing gas masks in the face with a paintball gun.

“The mace isn’t going to work with the gas mask,” Swinney said. “The paintball gun was incorporated because of this. If you get them in the lenses with a paintball gun then they can’t see and they have take their mask off and the mace works.”

Swinney falsely alleged in his testimony that counterprotesters were heating a cauldron of oil in the park.

“They had put a cauldron out in the park and they built a fire underneath it, and they were pouring motor oil in it,” Swinney claimed. “They were sucking it up and spraying it on everybody.”

Multiple OPB reporters were at the Aug. 22 protest and did not observe any use of hot motor oil.

At one point, Swinney testified that he threatened to mace people in an attempt to deescalate the street brawl, and denied coming to Portland specifically engage in a street fight. Vasquez then had Swinney read posts he made on the social media site Parler, where he said “we’re literally fighting the militant left wing,” and compared the fight with the Crusades and an ongoing civil war.

Swinney also admitted to shooting unarmed people with paintballs or bear mace on several occasions throughout the Aug. 22 street brawl.

During the trial, Vasquez asked Swinney to explain the various weapons he was carrying.

“You’ve testified a lot that you use the paintball gun for various things, you use mace for various things. What do you use the big knife for?” Vasquez asked Swinney.

“If somebody pulls out a big knife,” Swinney explained, without offering any further explanation.

After going through an itemized list of every weapon Swinney had with him that day, Vasquez asked if he was dressed for battle.

“I’m dressed for free speech in Portland,” Swinney retorted, prompting a follow up question if Swinney only carries those items in Portland. “I wear that material in places that are infested with black bloc antifa.”

Asked if he felt bad about what he did, Swinney said, “I don’t really have any feelings about it.”

OPB’s Conrad Wilson contributed reporting.

THANKS TO OUR SPONSOR:
THANKS TO OUR SPONSOR:

Related Stories