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Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Feb. 27, 2024

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Protesters clash in Patriot Prayer demonstration on Vancouver waterfront

By , Columbian environment and transportation reporter
3 Photos
A man was detained and released after nearly driving over counterprotesters after a rally held by Joey Gibson’s Patriot Prayer group.
A man was detained and released after nearly driving over counterprotesters after a rally held by Joey Gibson’s Patriot Prayer group. (Samuel Wilson for the Columbian) Photo Gallery

Two people were arrested, and a driver who drove a pickup nearly through several protesters was detained, following a rally thrown by local conservative activist Joey Gibson at the Vancouver waterfront.

Around 4 p.m., after the rally, counterprotesters had begun to disperse, heading downtown and toward Esther Short Park, some to follow and continue to engage with people leaving Gibson’s event.

A driver in a pickup and protesters along Columbia Street, near the entrance to the Vancouver Convention Center, apparently goaded each other, and protesters started kicking the truck.

The man driving then reversed, prompting the crowd around the pickup to scatter.

Shortly after, the pickup — a black, lifted Chevrolet Silverado with two American flags flying from its hood — swung back around to Sixth Street.

48 Photos
A counter-protester arrives at Joey Gibson's Patriot Prayer Group rally at the Port of Vancouver Amphitheater on Sunday, September 10, 2017. The event was moved to Vancouver from Portland in an attempt to avoid protesters.
Vancouver Patriot Prayer rally and counter protest Photo Gallery

Some in the crowd tossed rocks and water bottles at the pickup.

The driver pulled past three vehicles waiting in front of him and accelerated through the Washington Street light at Sixth Street. A police officer immediately stopped and detained the man driving.

The driver’s identity was not immediately clear. Vancouver Police Department spokeswoman Kim Kapp said the man was not arrested.

The Vancouver police said officers arrested two people: Shawna L. Gonzalez, 34, was arrested on suspicion of reckless endangerment. Kapp said Gonzalez tossed chunks of wood at a crowd. Gonzalez’ residence was not available.

Officers also arrested Nicholas Partin, aka Alanna Partin, 36, of Portland, was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Kapp said Sunday evening no injuries had been reported.

The rally, set up through Vancouver’s Joey Gibson and his Patriot Prayer group, was originally planned as a rally for Sunday afternoon in Portland. Gibson announced the Vancouver rally Saturday via Facebook.

Some, who Gibson called the Patriot Prayer “inner circle,” did meet in Portland earlier Sunday afternoon. Gibson said the move was meant to help split and disorganize antifa, or anti-fascist, protesters, and allow for a smaller, more intimate venue.

“We don’t want huge crowds, (a) huge us-versus-them type of situation,” he said.

Counterprotesters and rallygoers started converging on the waterfront around 1:30 p.m. The former first gathered in Esther Short Park, while the latter slowly filled the stands around the Vancouver Landing Amphitheater at 110 Columbia St.

Gibson’s rallies consistently draw people from the far right. While he has publicly denounced racism and extremism, the rallies have led to counterprotests and occasional clashes.

Earlier that afternoon, in Portland, police arrested seven people during protests and a march, held at Terry Schrunk Plaza, Waterfront Park and the surrounding area in downtown.

News outlets reported 20 or so Patriot Prayer-organized marchers came to Portland, while there were hundreds of counter-protesters.

The Portland police said officers seized some improvised weapons and that people threw rocks, irritant smoke bombs and other objects.

The Peaceful Vancouver Freedom March, as dubbed by the organizers, started at 2 p.m., and largely consisted of speeches from Gibson and others to the amphitheater crowd, which numbered at about 100 people.

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Police officers, many in riot gear, gradually arrived to form a barrier around the amphitheater, while counterprotesters chanted and hollered from the east side of the amphitheater area.

Officers expanded the neutral zone between the rally and counterprotesters, as police officers continued to arrive through the course of the roughly two-hour event.

Several people at the rally appeared to be part of the Three Percenters, a corner of the militia-style, largely anti-government movement that advocates for limited government, as well as the Proud Boys, a white nationalist group.

Some among the opposition bore the masked faces and flags of anarchist and antifa protesters seen at other rallys.

Several times, counterprotesters accosted rallygoers as they arrived, hurling invective and sometimes spraying silly string. Activists sprinkled at least one person with glitter.

Most interaction devolved to shouting matches across the gradually growing demarcation area officers created between the two camps.

The rally wrapped up around 4 p.m., and police kept the bulk of the two groups separated as rallygoers left.

After the rally, some of the crowd moved toward Esther Short Park and downtown, leading to the arrest of the Silverado driver.

After the rally, a group of men driving down Columbia Street sprayed pepper spray at protesters in the street, counterprotesters lobbed rocks at their truck, the Willamette Week reported.

Some, mainly the opposition protesters, lingered around Esther Short Park for a time, with pockets of people debating politics with remaining rallygoers. One protester snatched someone’s red “Make America Great Again” cap.

The man was stopped, but not before setting it on fire.

Columbian environment and transportation reporter