For bad journalism you can’t get much worse than the hit piece about the Patriot Prayer group contained in Wednesday’s edition of Willamette Week.
This poisonous piece of agitprop – suffused with factual errors and pernicious assertions – took the hysterical ravings of the Portland mayor and his spokespersons and constructed a narrative to smear the group that had all the the sturdiness of dryer lint. Worse, the Potemkin-like story was used to “galvanize” the mayor’s office to write a new ordinance curbing first amendment rights.
The piece, headlined “Portland Police Found Right-Wing Protesters With a Cache of Long Guns Atop a Parking Garage. Why Didn’t the Mayor Know?” was so misleading, so factually-challenged, so fundamentally dumb that the Portland Police Bureau had to issue a page-long statement ‘clarifying’ the misreading of the circumstances, mischaracterizations of the law and misstatement of facts contained in this counterfeit ‘news’ item.
The Willamette Week reporter began the piece by ascribing to Mayor Ted Wheeler the outrageous and detached-from-reality characterizations of the alleged activities of the Patriot Prayer group – without ever correcting them. Ever.
From the piece:
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler intended to look decisive Monday afternoon by announcing an emergency ordinance that would give police broad authority to control warring protest groups.
But as he justified his action, the mayor opened a can of worms. He described an alarming discovery—a nest of guns on a downtown roof—that raised more questions than it answered.
She then began the recitation of supposed facts:
In the early morning of Aug. 4, hours before a massive waterfront protest, Portland police officers discovered a group of Patriot Prayer supporters on the roof of a parking garage in downtown. According to a description provided in the mayor’s proposed ordinance, the men had a “cache of firearms,” which a mayoral staffer would later describe as “long guns.”
Let’s break this down. Look at those terms. Using “Cache of firearms,” “a nest of guns on a downtown roof” made it sound like James Hodgkinson or Micah Xavier Johnson (the leftist loons who shot Republican Congressman Steve Scalise and several other Republicans and the Dallas police officer sniper, respectively) were setting up a sniper’s nest to take out the innocents below.
The paper, quoting the proposed new ordinance, which appears to call for campus-like free speech zones, expressly stated that this “cache of firearms” is what prompted the proposed change in the law:
“Prior to the start of the scheduled demonstrations [August 4] police discovered individuals who had positioned themselves on a rooftop parking structure in downtown Portland with a cache of firearms,” the ordinance says.
The reporter then added:
“It is unclear when Police Chief Danielle Outlaw learned about the Patriot Prayer supporters waiting on the roof with long guns.”
Cue the scary music. The paper now upped the ante by characterizing Patriot Prayer as “waiting on the roof with long guns:
Police say they seized the guns—but could not detain or cite the protesters because they had concealed handgun licenses that allow them to carry the weapons legally. Officials say they later returned the firearms.”
First of all, you don’t need a permit to own a “long gun.” Furthermore, several of the members did have permits to conceal carry pistols. So, which is it, Willamette Week? Which ones did the police “seize” because they were illegal?
The Portland Police Bureau could just be talking out both sides of its mouth, but here’s the “clarification” it issued an hour after someone hit the publish button on the Willamette Week hit piece:
About that nest of snipers:
“…[O]fficers witnessed several people parking their cars and gathering on the top floor of a parking garage, located approximately three blocks away from the where the event was to be held at the Salmon Springs Fountain.”
In short, police say the Patriot Prayer supporters were parking in the parking garage and getting ready for their march, which included carrying open and concealed guns. They were getting suited up for the expected clash with Antifa/communista, which never happened – a fact that made Wheeler’s response two months later seem completely untethered from reality.
Here’s what the police say they observed:
Police watched them place items that could be used as weapons, such as make-shift sticks and signs with sticks, into their vehicles and some of them kept these items and said they would not enter the park. The group eventually departed the garage on foot.
Meanwhile, four individuals were located on the northeast side of the top floor of the garage. The sergeant involved contacted them and they confirmed they had three rifles and had concealed weapon permits. The men told the sergeant they were going to stay at the garage and act as a quick extraction team in case any of their group was injured during the demonstration. The men were compliant and allowed the sergeant to inspect the weapons. All three firearms were in cases (one was disassembled) and none were loaded.
[ … ]
…[N]o firearms were seized or taken as safe keeping from the individuals in the parking garage,No arrests were made as no laws were broken.”
PPB did indicate that it was concerned that protesters on both sides have begun talking openly about carrying their pistols and wearing body armor.
I’ve spoken with insiders who say Antifa members routinely carry. It would seem prudent, therefore, to wear perfectly legal body armor if your mere presence triggers the Leftists.
Here’s how WW previously characterized protesters:
“Portland city officials say they cannot stop right-wing groups like Patriot Prayer from demonstrating, even though their rallies often devolve into violence.”
Oregon Firearms Federation President Kevin Starrett told VictoriaTaft.com that Willamette Week and Mayor Wheeler got their assignment of blame and prescription for a cure exactly backwards:
“Once again the incompetent leftists who mismanage Portland push fake news to distort the truth and cover for the thugs who rule Portland’s streets. Ted Wheeler has only the most tenuous grasp on reality but is determined to demonize the people standing up to the fascist mobs who terrorize people unfortunate enough to have to drive through his miserable city.”
In fact, Ted Wheeler actually allowed the police to do their jobs that day. He, in fact, issued a statement about that success. Police kept apart Antifa away from Gibson’s group so there was no violence. That is, until the communist group got upset and began picking fights with cops. Willamette Week reports, “the day ended with a chaotic, violent clash between police and left-wing counterprotesters.” Repeat: Not Joey Gibson’s group.
But Willamette Week had a narrative, dammit, and it was going to push it for the Left. It intoned, “How much danger did the public and the mayor not know about on Aug. 4?”
Mayor Ted Wheeler, we learn from this story, just found out about the guns in the parking garage two days ago. But the mayor and his minions wrote a new ordinance to curb free speech and did so based on this phony story that there was a “nest” of gunmen with a “cache of weapons” “waiting on the roof with long guns.” The group members broke no laws and cooperated fully with police at a march for free speech that included no violent outbursts. Wheeler worked his Jedi mind tricks to blame Patriot Prayer, formed to counter Antifa violence, as the chief reason the city needed a new protest law.
Let us all know when DHS names Patriot Prayer as a domestic terrorist organization as it already has Antifa.
We saw what you did there, Ted. He encouraged this gaslighting episode probably because he didn’t want Antifa and the group’s fellow communistas camping in his front yard again.
Sad to come home the second night in a row with protesters in my front yard flipping me, my wife, and child off. Now shouting threats.
— Ted Wheeler (@tedwheeler) March 24, 2017
Which, naturally, proves the point.
This story was about as unbalanced as the psyches of Antifa members whose violence prompted the founding of Patriot Prayer in the first place.