At the Patriot Prayer Rally held earlier this month in Portland, Oregon, 38-year-old Paul Welch showed up to protest the right wings groups participating, and to show support for the Antifa members there holding a counter-protest.
Welch, however, went to the protest holding an American flag, which did not sit well with other Antifa members. They demanded he hand over the flag, calling it a symbol of fascism. After he refused, the Antifa members, many of them masked, attacked Welch, snatching the flag from him and hitting him with what appeared to be bats and sticks. Video of the attack is included below.
The incident did not get national attention at the time, even though the entire protest was leading the news broadcasts. It is only now coming to light after a local media outlet spoke with Welch.
Paul Welch came to the downtown protest Aug. 4 to let his political leanings be known.
With pride he clutched his U.S. flag as he moved among the crowd of like-thinking demonstrators.
Soon a group of black-clad anti-fascist protesters, also known as antifa, demanded he lose the flag, calling it a fascist symbol. Welch refused, and a tug-of-war ensued.
It ended with Welch taking a club to the back of the head, lying on the ground in a pool of his own blood.
Welch was targeted by Antifa for carrying the American flag, but he was one of them – a liberal counter-protester who opposed the Patriot Prayer activists. He voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary and Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. He even helped out Occupy protesters camping out in the city.
“I didn’t come as a part of any one group,” Welch said in an interview with The Oregonian/OregonLive. “I was just protesting outsiders coming here for their tacitly fascist event.”
Anger following the demonstration has largely been directed at Portland police, whose use of “less-lethal” riot-control weapons on counter-protesters hospitalized at least three people and injured several others.
But others, like Welch, became targets of violence at the hands of protest participants, even as police kept rival political factions apart. A video taken of his attack has been viewed more than 800,000 times online.
Many left-leaning activists and reporters were angered with the behavior of Antifa, whose violent actions were not limited to Welch. CNN reporters were targeted as well.
Welch felt it was important that liberals shows they can be patriots too – a sentiment not shared by Antifa.
“I had felt like showing that a liberal, free Portland — or any major city, really — is much more American and much more numerous and strong than any of these interloping groups,” he said.
A “slightly progressive leftist” by his telling, Welch is a registered Democrat in Oregon, voting records show. He cast his ballot for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primary and Hillary Clinton in the general election, he said.
The 38-year-old line cook is also no stranger to street protests in Portland. He said he attended the Women’s March held during the weekend of Donald Trump’s inauguration.
This summer, Welch, who works six days a week at a catering company, stopped by the Occupy ICE encampment on his days off to bring protesters water, toilet paper and sunblock, he said.
Here is video of the attack.
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