For more than an hour on Sunday afternoon, a crowd of protesters chipped away at President Abraham Lincoln’s statue and battled the crowd around Theodore Roosevelt’s as they descended upon Portland, Oregon.
The protests stemmed from a Confederate flag burning on Oct. 4, following President Trump’s visit to the city and an Oct. 11 gathering where three men were allegedly beaten by a man who shouted “Get out of my country.”
The protesters, many of whom were dressed like members of the Afro-Latino youth organization Respect My Vote, showed contempt for Confederate symbols and the White House on Sunday. Many tore down the American flag that had been hoisted on the statue of Lincoln.
As the building began to crumble, Mr. Trump finally showed up, tweeting, “My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Portland, Oregon, where there is a planned protest today.” Mr. Trump criticized some people in the country for “getting so angry and violent,” then urged Oregon residents to “stand up for each other.”
“I wish the president would have come out more clear than he did today,” said Keith Mitchell, president of the National Advocacy Consortium. “The protesters are not incited to violence.”
Protesters in Portland
Dr. Michelle McTaggart, the Western regional director of NAN, which runs Respect My Vote, said the group hoped the presence of Mr. Trump would demonstrate that protesters are “going to bring people together to show solidarity to protect our democratic process.”
The fight began to crumble as the two different groups clashed, with the Confederates — wearing orange jackets with the word “USA” on the back — having the advantage at times over the youth group, which wore mismatched outfits and chanted. A black flag, representing Black Lives Matter, was brought up during the fight.
One student on the scene tweeted: “You don’t have to understand the social justice movement to fight for it.” The group proceeded to use this as their rallying cry, chanting, “fuck the system.”
At one point, a man in a red shirt scuffled with a member of Respect My Vote. At one point a group of Confederates also hurled a large slab of concrete at the minority protesters.
After a violent outburst, the “blue people” ran over the protesters in white cars. There was a loud, but brief fight and one police officer was injured.
Eventually, the president arrived, but the monument fell soon after.
Mr. Trump, sitting in the front row of the Mainstream Media Institute’s new convention center on Sunday, also fought with protestors who interrupted the talk.
“Do you come over there to mess with the president? Or do you want peace and unity?” Mr. Trump said, referring to the crowd.
Law enforcement officers later closed off streets near the statue of the three alleged white supremacists, only for the protesters to return to spray paint over the white substance.
The “white people” ultimately had the edge.