PORTLAND, Oregon — Portland averted large-scale street violence over the weekend as a mix of right-wing groups gathered Saturday to proclaim their love of America — and their disgust with antifa. While antifa organized its own counterprotest, law enforcement mostly kept the two groups apart.
The spectacle only seemed to underscore a growing sense of division in the country. VICE News spent the day talking with various participants, including a man who drove from more than 400 miles away in order to understand why, as he put it, people are so angry.
Ruffus Chapel, 50, a retired gold miner from outside Boise, Idaho, identifies as a libertarian. VICE News met Chapel along Portland’s waterfront as he mingled among right-wing groups. Asked what he thought of the Proud Boys, one of the right wing groups demonstrating that day, Chapel called the group the “lesser of two evils” compared to antifa, whose members Chapel said are “running around beating people up.”
Chapel said he was drawn to Portland because of a widely-circulated video of conservative journalist Andy Ngo, who was attacked in June while covering street protests there. Ngo claimed the attackers belonged to antifa, and his case became a rallying cry for conservatives suspicious that Portland police were soft on the left.
But Chapel recoiled Saturday after seeing a protester, dressed in black in the fashion of antifa, lying on the pavement bleeding from the head. It was unclear what happened — police and medics walked the protester to an ambulance.
“I don’t like that shit,” Chapel said of the violence. “I'm more confused now than when I got here.”
This segment originally aired August 20, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.