OREGON CITY — Hundreds of Donald Trump’s supporters gathered for a large motorcade in support of the US president and police near Portland, where anti-racism activists have clashed continuously with law enforcement for more than 100 days.
Small groups of men loaded with paramilitary equipment, many of them armed militants from right-wing extremist groups, milled among the crowd that consisted mostly of families and older people.
About 300 cars, including many massive pickup trucks, then took to the roads surrounding Oregon City, some 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Portland, before dispersing.
But 150 to 200 people, led by members of the far-right Proud Boys militia, which advocates white supremacy, decided to follow the road to Oregon’s capital, Salem, for a show of force on the steps of the state capitol building.
Tensions in the Portland area heightened on August 29 when Aaron Danielson, 39, a supporter of the far-right group Patriot Prayer, was shot dead in the city.
He had had just participated in a pro-Trump motorcade like the one on Monday and left the parade to go into Portland with other attendees.
A 48-year-old man named Michael Reinoehl, who claimed to be an “anti-fascist” on social media, was suspected of the shooting. He was shot dead five days later by police looking for him. Reinoehl allegedly tried to escape and grabbed a gun when he was killed.
On Monday, the Labor Day holiday in the US, rally organizers stressed their motorcade route would not go near Portland for safety reasons.
– ‘Has the brains’ –
Hundreds of American flags waved above the motorcade, often with banners calling for Trump’s reelection on November 3.
Pictures of Trump, depicting him as Rambo with a machine gun in hand, occasionally appeared on the banners as well.
“Trump has the brains to get America back on track,” said Cassy Larson, an accountant in a small Oregon town.–AFP