(Reuters) – Right wing demonstrators fought with leftist counter protestors in Georgia, Michigan and Oregon on Saturday drawing in riot police and SWAT teams.
Groups ranging from an anti-government patriot group in Portland, Oregon to alt-right Proud Boys in Kalamazoo, Michigan battled anti-fascists and Black Lives Matter activists as months of anti-racism protests increasingly pitted Americans against one another.
Several dozen demonstrators, many armed and carrying Confederate battle flags, staged a rally in the Atlanta suburb of Stone Mountain next to a park famed for its giant monument to leaders of the breakaway slave-holding states.
A mix of militia members, Confederate followers and supporters of President Donald Trump faced off against more than a hundred left-wing protesters, some armed, many carrying signs or wearing T-shirts supporting Black Lives Matter.
After hours of shouting, and the burning of a Confederate flag, the protest devolved into scuffles and fist fights, drawing in police backed by a SWAT team.
In Kalamazoo, the all-male Proud Boys group staged a rally in support of police, clashing with members of the anti-fascist Michigan People’s Defense League and other counter protesters, leading to several arrests, according to a statement by the city’s Department of Public Safety.
Several dozen right-wing demonstrators, some of them armed, also gathered in Portland on Saturday to oppose anti-fascists and back police after 80 days of protests against racism and police violence in the Oregon capital, local television station Koin 6 News reported.
Scuffles broke out between the Portland-based Patriot Prayer members and Black Lives Matter activists, with a Koin 6 photographer tweeting that he heard gunshots.
Portland Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A pattern among the clashes was rising tensions between right and left wing groups after nearly three months of protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody and President Donald Trump’s “law and order” response to demonstrations.
(Reporting by Elijah Nouvelage, Andrew Hay and Peter Szekely; Editing by Richard Chang and Richard Pullin)