If you read the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) account of the Patriot Prayer rally in Vancouver Sunday, you would think Antifa was well behaved while a right-winger in a truck nearly mowed down a group of innocent counter-protesters:
Joey Gibson and his Patriot Prayer organization may have a problem: He keeps trying to depict the anarchists and antifascists who show up to oppose his far-right rallies as the sources of the violence that surround them. But once again Sunday, participants from Gibson’s side at a rally here wound up in trouble for posing a lethal threat to their opponents.
By the day’s end, at least one “Patriot” had driven his large black pickup around a crowd of black-clad protesters and then driven it in reverse at high speed through the same crowd. Fortunately, no one was hit by the truck; the driver was briefly detained by police and released.
After the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, it’s understandable why people are nervous whenever vehicles and protesters are interacting. But the video below suggests it was the Antifa protesters who were being aggressive toward both people walking and driving Sunday.
A local news report (which SPLC links to) says Antifa members were following people as they headed back to their cars: “Counter-protesters started following the Patriot Prayer demonstrators through Vancouver, throwing objects at the conservative demonstrators and their cars.” Video backs this up showing scuffles breaking out as people are walking to their cars, but it’s pretty clear Antifa was initiating the violence:
At some point, a driver in a black truck covered in flags is trying to get out of the parking lot. He honks his horn (which plays Dixie) several times. The Antifa member in the street stops and then slowly walks to prevent the truck from leaving:Sometime later the same truck comes down a street where Antifa are gathered. Video shot by a KGW reporter shows Antifa members pelting the truck and the driver with objects as he drives down the street.
From another angle you can see a protester takes up a position directly in front of the truck, holding a sign. The driver has no way out except to back up, which he does:
Here’s how KGW described this, “You can see what appears to be the same truck at the beginning of the video speeding backwards to avoid counter-protesters.” To be clear, I’m not suggesting that this was a safe maneuver. One protester is visible darting across the street just as the truck starts to back up. I’m also not defending the driver who does seem to be trying to get a rise out Antifa (he keeps honking that horn playing Dixie). But honking a horn and driving down the street are legal activities. Pelting a car and a driver with bottles and blocking the street are not legal activities.
A few minutes later the same truck was stopped at a light about a block or so away. Once again, Antifa protesters come out into the street toward the truck. One guy appears to place a sticker of some kind on the rear of the truck. The driver, apparently trying to get away, crosses the yellow line and drives through a red light. He is immediately stopped by police:
In this case, the driver clearly broke the law. He was on the wrong side of the street. He ran a red light which could have resulted in an accident. This is reckless driving and cops were right to arrest him. But it’s worth noting he wasn’t the only driver being harassed in the street by Antifa:
As mentioned above, the driver of the truck was later released and reports say he wasn’t charged with a crime. Maybe charges will follow or maybe he has a date with a traffic court judge to explain his driving. But the idea the SPLC is pushing, that the right was (nearly) violent and the left was on relatively good behavior is bunk. As you can see above, Antifa members were being their usual violent selves once again on Sunday.