Over five protesters arrested at last Sunday’s pro-Trump rally in Vancouver
Clark County supporters of President Donald Trump were met with scores of screaming anarchists last Sunday in Esther Short Park during a "Rally for Trump and Freedom" rally.
The protesters were largely made up of the Portland-area anarchist group Antifa, which is short for anti-fascist.
Around 300 people were at the park and six or seven arrests were made, a Vancouver police officer said.
The rally ran from 1 to around 3:30 p.m., but by 12:30 p.m. the large group of black clad, masked anarchists had already gathered and were circling the fenced off center of the park, stopping in certain spots to chant and scream at the police and Trump supporters gathering in the middle.
Among others, some of their chants included: “more dead cops”; “black lives matter, cop lives don’t”; “f--k Donald Trump”; and, the most commonly heard, “no Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.”
The Trump supporters broke into some of their own chants as well, singing out “U-S-A” and “blue lives matter” and “all lives matter” from time to time throughout the afternoon.
The band of anarchists were equipped with a few drums and blow horns, a saxophone player with a kilt over his pants and a man faking a Russian accent who together tried to drown out the various speakers of the day.
Along with Antifa, other smaller anarchy groups and a few independent protesters, at least two members of Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice (SHARP) protested as well, holding their flag outside the fenced off area.
There was also an organized security team of Portland young people guarding protesters. They were split up in five teams and also dressed in all black and were masked. They communicated via walkie-talkie during the rally.
On the Trump side, the “American Patriot 3 Percenters” served as security.
Ashley Couch, who drove from Salem to oppose the rally and proved to be one of the more vocal figures and one of the few not wearing a mask, said she was there to oppose what she described as “disgusting nationalistic pride.”
“I’m really just out here standing for the people on the other side of the wall,” she said both metaphorically and in reference to the plastic, orange fence keeping the protesters and supporters separated.
“Literally, this is a depiction of Trump’s America,” she said of the fencing. “Fascism in full effect.”
Two Trump supporting sisters, 17 and 19, would disagree.
Their family migrated from Russia 20 years ago to escape the very things the protesters were making their rally cry, they said.
“We’re here because we’re educated and we believe that capitalism is the way to go,” said Anita Stepanyuk, 19. “(Our family) came from Russia where it’s socialist. The best thing about America is capitalism and freedom. We were able to make our own money and keep our own money.”
When rally organizer Joey Gibson took the stage, he addressed the protesters, saying that one of the reasons America is great because they had a right to protest, whether he agreed with them or not.
“That is an awesome thing — that’s what America’s all about,” Gibson said.
Gibson implored the crowd to not waste their time on a “group of kids” protesting.
After honoring the veterans in the crowd, a prayer and the national anthem — where a protester tried to run onto stage screaming “f--k Trump” and “f--k America — District 18’s own Rep. Liz Pike took the stage.
Wearing a tan cowboy hat and wielding a “Make America Great Again” flag, Pike started with, “I’m here because I love freedom.”
Pike then talked about the fiscal responsibility she has to her constituents and how she is constantly reminded that the dollars they spend on capital hill are first earned by taxpayers.
“We have to be much better about how those monies are spent,” she said.
“God bless America and God bless president Trump!” she finished.
Some of the Trump supporters and speakers’ rhetoric rang a familiar tone. “Hillary for Prison, 2016” shirts could be spotted throughout the crowd and Gibson exclaimed “lock her up already!” Gibson told the crowd that they should “take it personal” that if it was up to their home state of Washington, Hillary Clinton would be president.
Gibson told The Reflector a few days before the rally that the primary goal was to use the momentum from the Trump victory.
“In all reality it’s really about using this momentum, using this passion to affect not just our presidential election, but to effect our state election, city election — and 2018 is very important too,” he said.
As to why they would put together a rally post victory, Gibson said even though Republicans now control the Senate, House and presidency, the fight for freedom never ends.
Tension in the park reached its pinnacle when a few anarchists attempted to break through one of the entrances in the plastic face. They were pushed back by the police and the 3 Percenters and a tussle broke.
After multiple arrests were made, both groups went back to screaming at each other from across the plastic fence.
Soon thereafter, anarchists began lobbing blue and red smoke bombs into the crowd of Trump supporters.
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