Hundreds of protesters gathered Sunday in the northwestern U.S. city of Portland, Oregon, for rallies for and against President Donald Trump, which included some clashes with police and arrests.
The "Trump Free Speech" rally took place on a federally administered site, and drew counter-protests across the street, including one named "No Nazis On Our Streets."
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler had asked the federal government to revoke the permits for the pro-Trump rally. He had also reached out to the organizers and personally asked them to cancel it in light of a recent stabbing attack on a Portland train. In that attack, a man shouting anti-Muslim insults at two teenage girls was confronted by other riders, and he responded by stabbing three of them, two of whom died.
"I urge them to ask their supporters to stay away from Portland," Wheeler wrote in a Facebook post earlier this week. "There is never a place for bigotry or hatred in our community, and especially not now."
The rally went ahead, with people there saying they were defending their rights.
"It's OK to be a conservative in Portland," organizer Joey Gibson said.
With the people at dueling rallies near City Hall chanting slogans and waving flags and signs, police in riot gear blocked crosswalks and lined a number of downtown parks.
Late in the day, police used flash grenades and pepper balls to disperse a group of protesters, after saying the group was throwing objects at officers.
Witnesses told VOA that tear gas had been fired by police, but that they had seen no further escalation. They did not know why the tear gas had been used.
"I'm honestly terrified of violence," Lauren Cary, a Portland resident attending the "No Nazis on Our Streets" rally told VOA. "There have been talks of the oathbreakers and other militia groups showing up."
"But I also think it's important to say 'get the hell out' of my city to Nazi scum," she added.
Portland Police said a total of 14 people were arrested Sunday, and that officers seized a number of weapons, including knives, bricks and sticks.
No ‘place for bigotry or hatred’
A number of small altercations took place between the opposing demonstrations, the majority of them verbal assaults, according to The Oregonian.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler had asked the federal government to revoke permits for the "Trump Free Speech Rally," which is taking place in a park under federal jurisdiction. Wheeler said he also reached out to the organizers of the rally and personally asked them to cancel it, particularly in light of the recent tragedy.
“I urge them to ask their supporters to stay away from Portland,” Wheeler wrote in a Facebook post earlier this week. “There is never a place for bigotry or hatred in our community, and especially not now.”
The rally did not heed the mayor's calls.
On May 26, a man on a train in Portland targeted two teenagers with an anti-Muslim rant, then killed two people and wounded another who confronted him.
Portland Police have said one of the two young women on the train was wearing a hijab, and that the attacker ranted on many topics using "hate speech or biased language."