A group of protesters arrived in Salem, Oregon attempting to gain access to the capitol building while the legislature was in session. Led by Patriot Prayer, a right-wing activist group, protesters demonstrated against COVID restrictions in the state, The Oregonian reports.
Hundreds of patriots were angered by being refused entry into the sessions, which are typically open to the public, One America News Network reports. Protesters asked to be allowed in to express their frustration over lockdown policies. Lawmakers refused and continued their session in private.
The group caused disruption in the capitol and told reporters they were creating an “autonomous zone.” One protestor shouted, “If Antifa can do this, so can we,” The Sun reported.
Police were called in to disperse the crowd. After declaring the protest an unlawful assembly, authorities arrested four people.
Patriot Prayer is well-known in the Pacific Northwest, Breitbart reports. The leader, Joey Gibson, has organized events for supporters of President Donald Trump several times since 2016, regularly drawing counter-protesters to the region. Patriot Prayer members describe themselves as a Christian group advocating free speech and smaller government.
The group has regularly countered protests by leftist activists, with supporters and opponents providing thoroughly contradictory descriptions of its motives and methods.
“Patriot Prayer is known for clashing with left-wing adversaries around Portland,” writes Katrina Schollenberger for the U.S. Sun. “They have clashed several times with liberal protestors and demonstrators, particularly in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.”
“Over the years, Patriot Prayer seemed to exist only for the purpose of challenging anarchists, antifascists, and social justice protesters,” The Oregonian reports.
Other cities are experiencing protests against BLM/Antifa activities. At least six people were stabbed in Washington, D.C. when right wing group The Proud Boys confronted BLM activists during a rally in support of President Trump, Budget and Tax News reports.
The Proud Boys have been active since 2016 and have become more prominent with the rise of BLM. Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnis describes the group as an organization for “Western chauvinist men,” Forbes reports, meaning males who support the preservation of Western civilization. Members oppose forced political correctness and fomenting of white guilt. They have clashed with left-wing activists at Black Lives Matter protests in cities around the country.
“These clashes between right-wing and left-wing groups, energized by Trump’s accusations that antifa is destroying weak Democratic cities, have ended in violence, and even death,” writes Jemima McEvoy for Forbes.
The rise of activist groups on the political Right reflects a growing concern over the rapid increase of leftist activism that arose in 2020.
“I believe that with alternative news sources that are countering the mainstream narrative and the raised awareness of corruption in the country, a rapid growth of like-minded groups to counter the chaos in our streets has also risen, probably as a result,” conservative analyst John Fogg told Budget and Tax News. “The Proud Boys are an example. From what I have observed, they are a group of patriots who have decided to take their frustration to the streets.”
CNN commentator Brian Stelter likened right wing activists to the terrorist group ISIS. There is a process of radicalization happening through a “hyped-up right wing media machine,” Stelter said. “This radicalization is happening everywhere in the pro-Trump media.”
Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) responded to that statement on Fox Business News, telling host Stuart Varney that it is the Left, not the right wing groups, that is engaged in radicalization and terrorist-type activities. The comparison to ISIS would fit more appropriately with the activities of the Left, not the Right, Duffy says.
“If you look at the Left and Black Lives Matter, and the riots and the beating up of people they disagree with, and looting and burning—that’s the Left that’s doing those same things,” Duffy said.
“I think it’s a cover for what the Left is doing,” Duffy said. “If you look at radicalization, this is happening at American schools by leftists, and they are anti-free speech, anti-capitalist, anti-gun, anti-religion, anti-constitution.”
The media are creating right-wing scapegoats and a false narrative, says Duffy.
“At what point to do we call the left-wing media liars?” Duffy told Fox Business News “At what point do we call the Left out for doing exactly what they blame the Right for?”