Protesters ‘Trump’ Flag Waving Rally and Speakers

Pro-Trump rally promising Joey Gibson as a speaker results in protesting on overpass

The sun blazed down on about 40 supporters of President Donald Trump and 150 counter-protesters on the Harlow Road overpass May 5.

The two parties squared off — armed with signs, flags and bullhorns. One side proselytized Trump and the other told them to go home.

Oregon Women for Trump organized an event that included flag-waving and right-wing speakers. It was an event, they said, to show Trump that Eugene-Springfield approves of his America First policies.

The dueling protests arose because organized opposition crashed the event. The counter-protest arose not so much because it was a pro-Trump event. but because Joey Gibson of Patriot Prayer was listed among the lineup of speakers.

As one chainsaw-wielding counter-protester said, “I’m not anti-Trump, I’m anti-white supremacists.”


Springfield Police Department (SPD), with help from Eugene Police Department (EPD), shut down traffic on the Harlow Road overpass over I-5 as a result, using its SWAT teams to minimize both sides interacting with each other.

The dueling protests on the overpass gave Eugene a taste of what usually happens in Portland whenever Gibson is scheduled to appear at an event.

Gibson is a leader of the Vancouver, Washington-based group Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group that says it promotes freedom of speech. Gibson’s name is often in the headlines of Portland-area media outlets for organizing protests that often result in heavy-handed Portland Police Department tactics against Antifa and others opposing Patriot Prayer.

Gibson and Patriot Prayer had interfered with a Rose City Antifa event at Cider Riot in Portland May 1, leading to someone from Patriot Prayer to use pepper spray. Someone from Antifa then responded with pepper spray.

Gibson — along with Ian Kramer, who struck a woman in the back of the head with a baton — have recently been sued for $1 million by the owner of Cider Riot, according to Willamette Week.

Other scheduled speakers included someone from the Walk Away Movement (supposed-liberals who’ve left the Democratic Party), Joey Nations (a Second Amendment advocate), Janira Sanchez-Brannigan (Latinos for the Wall), Carol Leek (the Trump Effect) and Michelle Yates (a pro-life advocate).

None of them spoke. But the flag-wavers got their promised security.

Proud Boys from Portland showed up to act as security for the pro-Trump crowd.

Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) calls the Proud Boys a hate group. SPLC says the Proud Boys group has appeared at extremist rallies like “Unite the Right” in Charlottesville, Virginia — the rally Trump said there were very fine people on both sides.

Dan, who’s a member of the group and wouldn’t give his full name so he wouldn’t be identified, told Eugene Weekly that he and other Proud Boys were there just to protect anyone from violence because he believes in freedom of speech. He added that Proud Boys don’t believe in violence.

A top FBI official in Portland told media outlets a few months ago that although the FBI doesn’t categorize Proud Boys as a violent organization, individuals who identify as Proud Boys have been violent.

Dan said the handful of Proud Boys who came to Eugene thought protesters would be present and would use intimidation tactics to silence the pro-Trump side.

Many of the Proud Boys wore matching black Fred Perry polo shirts, others were in sweatshirts with the Proud Boys logo.

When asked whether he thought the the Proud Boys were also engaging in intimidation tactics, he said if a woman is attacked, they’d help her out — even if she was from the other side.

Dan said that Antifa was protesting the pro-Trump rally and alleged they were making it an unsafe atmosphere. He also alleged that Antifa is going to dox the pro-Trump flag-wavers.

Doxxing is researching and broadcasting identifying information.

But he added that Proud Boys can’t talk about the group to media outlets.

Although Dan claimed Antifa was protesting the flag-wavers as a single entity, those who opposed the flag-wavers including members of the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and anarchists, as well as families and students.

The dueling protests — that began before the scheduled 1 pm rally time — went on for more than two hours. SPD officers tried to get both sides to concede and disperse to open traffic up again. Neither side budged.

After about 10 minutes of police negotiating with a representative from each side, both groups, led by the retreating pro-Trump flag-wavers, walked down to the Walmart Neighborhood Market in Springfield. SPD and EPD SWAT teams and police officers tried to keep the two parties divided.

Sheltered by a barrier of both cities’ SWAT teams, flag-wavers and Proud Boys stood in the parking lot, harassing protesters. In turn, protesters hurled middle fingers and criticism at them.

Despite the tensions between the two parties, only one person was arrested, a protester.

According to someone from the pro-Trump flag-wavers’ side, the protester grabbed her U.S. flag and threw it on the ground, leading to a scuffle. EW’s video of the incident is less clear on who was responsible. An SPD officer jumped in, grabbed the protester by the neck and detained the person.

Counter-protesters called out: “So the first person you arrest isn’t a Nazi?”

Eugene Antifa is holding a fundraiser for the detained protester.

Throughout the day, protesters said they were being antagonized by flag-wavers. Often, the flag-wavers would shove protesters whenever they were in a shouting match.

Since the dueling protests took part in Springfield, there was a question of whether local racist Jimmy Marr would show up. Marr is known to show up and play his bagpipes at rallies, protests and just about anywhere. He also drives a pickup truck that always has something anti-Semitic written on it.

The question of whether Marr would show up brought out Will, who declined to give his last name. Will said he aligns with the non-racist skinhead movement from the early 1970s. Will was also wearing a Fred Perry polo shirt and was angry that Proud Boys have used that style of polo shirt as their uniform.

Will told EW that he wasn’t there to protest Trump but to see if any Nazis — such as Marr and his “boneheads” — would show up.

Marr, who hasn’t been seen publicly since he got beat up in Corvallis December 2018, never showed up.

That’s not to say that people on the pro-Trump side weren’t aligned with white supremacy, though.

EW caught one of the pro-Trump flag-wavers flashing the “white power” hand sign. SPLC says it’s used at times to express “white power,” as well as troll liberals.

The number of police officers slowly increased over the duration of the protest.

At first a handful of police were present, directing traffic and telling people to get off the roadway. As time went on, it grew to a significant SWAT presence.

Springfield Police Department Chief Rick Lewis observed the demonstrations from afar as the protest went on.

He told EW he was working out at a nearby gym and, after police responded and shut down Harlow Road, he decided to come to the protests.

SPD’s SWAT team was blocking the dueling demonstrators to avoid a clash. Lewis says SWAT team consists of police officers working over time. He adds that SPD had to call in the morning shift to work the normal patrols.

“It’s unfortunate we have to use taxpayer money on this,” Lewis says.