I was struck by how small the antifa kids looked crouching behind their wall of shields placed side-by-side and resting on the ground, as they squared off against their right-wing counterparts on Saturday.
It’s a defensive posture they take up when police have to clear them from the street. Forcing cops to go heavy it’s as much about prompting police violence as it is about resisting If the cops fail to clear the group it’s a win on the ground, if they succeed it’s a win in the agitprop media. The formation also looks a lot more formidable at night, when you don’t see the goggles peering and scrawny bodies squatting, just a dark mass.
But deploying the wall as their enemy formed up in a column to withdraw was just pointless grandstanding. The little phalanx they formed at the rear of the enemy’s column followed along for a few minutes, the antfa kids coming up out of their crouch as a group to advance about ten yards before settling back in, scooting along behind the retreating patriots as if sweeping them out of town.
Despite their chaotic withdrawal the patriots managed to hold the street between antifa and the cops all afternoon, won the handful of fistfights that broke out and even managed to withdraw their more vulnerable people before navigating a sea of antifa with a lot of clamor but no injuries or making any criminal mistakes. Portland Police arrested a right winger for firing off a gun as his group escaped a parking garage last August 15.
A handgun was drawn briefly at the end, when the last contingent of less than ten patriots were preparing to escape the parking garage.
No police were on scene throughout the day. Two or three times the police sound truck pulled up a couple of blocks away and advised against breaking the law, while respecting everyone’s “right to protest”; at first the announcements seemed calibrated to infer you’re on your own. Later they threatened to declare a riot–as both sides scuffled and traded projectiles. They never did intervene, only coming in to clear out the park after the patriots had gone, leaving behind them hundreds of worked-up antifa.