Portland– Demonstrators burned US flags and marched through Portland armed with protest songs and assault rifles as a confusing election night unfolded to high tension but without violence in the northwestern city.
The liberal enclave in the state of Oregon had braced for possible armed clashes after months of divisive rallies involving left-wing activists, right-wing militias and federal officers deployed by the Trump administration.
As President Donald Trump claimed he won the US election early Wednesday, despite key states still counting ballots, activists gathered outside the Portland federal courthouse — the epicenter of the summer’s fraught anti-racism protests.
“We don’t like either candidate — I shamefully voted for Biden — but if Trump gets another four years people will be mad,” said one 20-year-old protester, who asked to be called “L,” as two American flags were ignited in front of the building.
Many at the courthouse shouted slogans against Trump as well as Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, a bogeyman for anti-police protesters who won re-election Tuesday, while others danced and twerked to loud hip-hop music.
The FBI has warned of the potential for armed clashes in Portland linked to the polls, but there were no signs of election night activity from right-wing groups such as the Proud Boys.
And by the early hours of Wednesday police had not engaged with the protesters, some of whom earlier participated in a peaceful 400-strong Black Lives Matter march around east Portland.
‘It’s gonna be crazy’
The three-hour march was led by a convoy including at least half a dozen protesters armed with assault rifles, knives and a shotgun. Rumors and reports of shifts in the national and state races still being counted spread among marchers.
“I heard Trump has the momentum now,” said 20-year-old protest leader Ty Ford. “It’s gonna be a riot. Whenever it comes out, it’s gonna be crazy.”
“It is like picking between two evils but honestly, we’ll settle with Biden,” said fellow leader “D.D.,” aged 22.
Demands ranged from abolishing ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to justice for Black victims of police violence including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, before the march ended with a rendition of “Hallelujah.”
There were also moments of levity as protest leaders cajoled those watching the march from their apartment windows to join the rally.
“Hey, stick your head out the window, tell us how the election is going — and then maybe slip on your shoes and come help us start a revolution,” shouted one activist.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.