As Portland gears up for Saturday’s demonstrations by far-right protest groups, Vancouver too can expect to see impacts from the scheduled protest.
Patriot Prayer, led by Vancouver’s Joey Gibson, will descend on Portland this weekend in the latest of a series of demonstrations. But before traveling across the Columbia River, protesters are expected to gather at the Grand Central Retail Center at 2500 Columbia House Blvd., just east of downtown. According to a Facebook event page for Saturday’s rally, Patriot Prayer will provide shuttles starting at 10 a.m., with armed security on each bus.
“There is a giant parking lot next to the drop off spot and is extremely busy so it will be hard for people to go after your car but it isn’t a guarantee,” Gibson wrote on Facebook.
But Portland-based commercial real estate firm NAI Elliot, which manages the property, issued a statement Friday announcing that the group does not have permission to use the parking lot or premises, and that only those shopping or working can use the lot. People who park for any other reason face being towed at their own expense.
“For us it’s very simple,” Vice President Jordan Elliot said. “It’s a private piece of property that’s intended for retail use.”
The epicenter of Saturday’s protests will be at the intersection of Naito Parkway and Southwest Salmon Street near Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland. Members of the Proud Boys, which the Southern Poverty Law Center classified as a hate group, are also expected to attend, as are counterprotesters and antifascist groups.
The event is branded as a campaign rally for Gibson, who is running for U.S. Senate against incumbent Washington Democrat Maria Cantwell.
“Not only are we going forward, but we’re getting bigger, and we’re thriving,” Gibson said in a Facebook video this week discussing the upcoming demonstration.
People who live in Oregon cannot vote in Washington’s election.
Activists fear this weekend’s demonstrations could devolve into violence, with the Southern Poverty Law Center suggesting it could “turn Portland into the next Charlottesville,” Va. Nearly a year ago, violent protests in Virginia lead to the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was killed when a man drove his car through counterprotesters.
Clashes between far-right and antifascist demonstrators have resulted in violence in Portland already. The Portland Police Bureau declared Patriot Prayer’s last demonstration a riot, and five people were hospitalized with injuries that were not life-threatening.
“The intent of law enforcement is to provide a safe environment for all participants, nonparticipants, and community members while ensuring the peaceful exercise of the First Amendment,” Portland Police said in a news release Friday. “There will be a significant law enforcement presence in the area of the demonstration due to past threats and acts of violence.”
The Vancouver Police Department is also aware of the scheduled demonstration, spokeswoman Kim Kapp said, and is in communication with the Portland Police Bureau.
“It’s on our radar from them,” Kapp said. “We have an open line of communication which is great, because it allows us to protect citizens who may be getting involved.”