"Shortly after, a man who refused to take a detour around the protest entered into a standoff with one of the people providing perimeter security by blocking the road with their bike.
The man became increasingly frustrated until he produced a pistol, pointed it at the crowd and said: "I'll fucking kill you all." People started preemptively calling for medics, so my team took a position and our lead went over what to do in case of a GSW
Eventually, this man either realized he was being foolish, or that if he fired his weapon he would quickly be incapacitated by the crowd. Regardless, he drove off.
Over the next hour or so, protesters and counter protesters got into various scuffles. At one point, someone from the "Wall of Moms
" group based out of Portland, was sprayed in the face with wasp killer, for some reason a favored weapon of the All Lives Matter movement. Many of them had cans of it attached to their shields. Other protesters were stabbed with American flags that had the end of the pole sharpened, and more still had their lives threatened as shotguns and assault rifles were leveled at them (which is a felony, pointing your gun at somebody in any situation other than self defense is a crime
, and a 60-year-old white, suburban mother telling you you're a racist shouldn't make you "fear for your life").
Eventually the protesters decided they had had enough, and started (nonviolently) pushing the counter-protesters out. Most of them left in a huff fairly quickly but a lone man with a loaded AR15 who never took his finger off the trigger, tried to hold out. He threatened several times to unload his gun into the crowd. I think the only thing that eventually convinced him to leave was when he realized many of the protesters were also armed. They just weren't waving their guns in the air (because that's basic gun safety).
After the last of the counter-protesters left, it became a march. A car immediately drove through the protest at about 20 mph. Luckily, everyone managed to get out of the way, and there were only a few minor bumps. This person was obviously trying to cause harm to as many people as possible by using his vehicle as a weapon.
The rest of the march to the jail was uneventful. Just as we got there, an officer on the roof with a megaphone told us: "You have no right to protest on the Sheriff's property."
Protesters appeared to be getting rowdy. I couldn't see what exactly was happening as I was in the back of the crowd, but there were definitely a few small fireworks lit off in the parking lot.
After that, the officer on the roof told us that if we did not leave, we would be subject to impact munitions and chemical weapons.
Eventually the crowd decided to march on. We marched through a few blocks of the Whitaker, and turned back towards downtown roughly without incident. At about 8th and Olive, one of the few Neo Nazi counter-protesters that had been tailing the crowd and antagonizing people eventually took it too far, and it appears someone sprayed him with some kind of aerosol. My team ran up to de-escalate as well as treat anyone affected by chemical weapons, however everyone seemed physically fine. Whatever was in the aerosol was entirely harmless, however we now were faced with a counter-protester in a balaclava, phone recording in one hand, and a 6 inch fixed blade knife in the other. His friend, who I have seen antagonizing and trying to bait people into fights at several protests, had his hand on the butt of a .45 at his hip.
Folks demanded he go home, and leave the crowd. As the man holding the knife and recording insisted to the future audience of the video that they had attacked them despite their being unarmed. (He was careful to keep his big ass knife out of frame.)
Eventually, it was de-escalated, however they continued to follow us for several more blocks. Eventually they ducked down a side street and out of sight. Im sure I'll see them again.
The crowd moved on, back towards the general direction of the courthouse, and campus. We could see things were escalating, so we decided to move our cars closer.
As we were almost to the car, we saw about 10 cop cars take off towards the protest. By the time we had gotten to them, it had been declared a riot. To the best of my knowledge, this is due to graffiti being sprayed on the Wells Fargo building, as well as the Elkhorn tavern getting their windows broken.
A quick aside in regards to the Elkhorn: this wasn't random vandalism, the owner of the Elkhorn has been witnessed going on several racist tirades, usually to justify why he'll never hire a black person. He also encourages customers not to wear masks in his restaurant, advertising it as a "freedom zone" while risking the lives of his underpaid employees. He also started an anti-homeless group called Wake Up Eugene.
We maneuvered our cars around, deciding what our next move was. We ended up at a a parking garage with a good vantage of the situation. The crowd went by, followed by the police, one of them was on a loudspeaker with a monotone voice repeating that the crowd needed to move to the West. As the crowd walked to the West, under police order, tear gas and pepper balls began to be used.
We moved our car to intercept the protest in order to treat any wounded. But even from several blocks away, the tear gas was thick.
I had no gas mask, and neither did my teammate who was driving. Unfortunately my teammate has asthma so they were unable to stick it out without serious risk to their health and safety, so I tied a vinegar soaked rag around my face, put on some goggles, and jumped out of the car alone. I wandered through a thick haze of gas. Trying to find my team, or any wounded.
Let me just speak to how surreal this situation is for a moment. There were shouts and screams in the distance, it was hard to see further than a block due to gas and smoke. This was 6 blocks away from where I used to work. Three blocks from where i saw my first concert. As a car sped down the road towards me, I darted into a familiar alley. I often took this alley as a shortcut home after a night on the town. I would take this shortcut as it was peaceful and separate from the noise of a bustling and thriving downtown. And now it's a war zone choked with chemical weapons in the midst of a pandemic.
The gas was getting to me--choking my throat, burning my lungs and nose, starting to make me panic. This panic would normally be abated with a deep breath and concentration, but that wasn't an option anymore. I emerged from the alley and found my team.
I overheard folks with press badges insisting that tear gas hadn't been used. They also said they weren't in the crowd when munitions were deployed. The fact that my arms and face still burn while typing this beg to differ with their assertion.
We walked with the small sputtering remains of the protest back to the courthouse, when we spotted police and federal troops charging across the parking lot of Whole Foods toward our group. We decided it was time to go.
We sprinted down a street perpendicular to their approach to break their line of sight, but there were riot officers charging down the next block over as well. We prepared to make a mad dash towards downtown, but as we crossed the street, a member of my team screeched to a halt in front of us in their car and yelled for us to get in.
We hopped in and took off just as the light turned green, and we were safe.
Seven were arrested, maybe a dozen injured. I hate to think of the fate that those without such a reliable team faced after we made our escape.
In closing, I'd like to point out the disparity in treatment between protesters and counter protesters, as well as the kinds of crimes both parties committed.
Protesters moved construction equipment to create roadblocks to keep from being victims of vehicular homicide, spray painted walls, and broke windows.
Counter protesters sprayed people with poison, tried to commit murder with a vehicle, and discharged a firearm into a crowd on federal property."