A right-wing militia group in Oregon planned violent attacks at Portland protests, with some members even discussing targeting political leaders and journalists, leaked chat logs showed. Some group members also encouraged others to bring illegal weapons to the demonstrations and suggested using frozen paintballs to cause maximum harm to their targets.
The chat logs of the militia Patriot Coalition of PNW (Pacific Northwest) was leaked by anti-fascist group Eugene Antifa. Conversations between Patriot Coalition members on the GroupMe app suggested the group resorted to violent tactics in order to hold local leaders "accountable." The members also associated antifa with Oregon wildfires — a false claim debunked by the FBI and local law enforcement officials.
Ahead of the August 22 protest, one group member who went by the name Mark Melchi offered training for violence through his "1776 2.0" right-wing group. He also claimed the "1776 2.0" group traveled to several states to engage in violence at protests.
"My Group 1776 2.0. Has been fighting Antifa in Seattle, Portland, for months. ... People will get shot, stabbed and beat. ... We must be ready to defend with lethal response," he wrote, cautioning others to wear masks before committing any violence.
Melchi, who is reportedly 41-year-old, urged the militia members to ignore the statute for weapons in Portland. "I saw someone say bats, mace, and stun guns are illegal downtown. If you're going to play by the books tomorrow night, we already lost. We are here to make a change, laws will be broken, people will get hurt... It's lawlessness downtown, and people need to be prepared for bad things," he wrote.
T.Durden, another member of Patriot Coalition, advocated for violence against Oregon Governor Kate Brown, district attorney and local judges.
"Maybe we need to start taking care of the justice ourselves! I don't believe in vigilante s**t, bit this is so f***king insane," T.Durden said in one of the messages. He also suggested that the group should start "with justice on our DA" and then "move on to the Governor."
Another member who went by the name Trent appeared to encourage violence against Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who blamed the riots in Portland on right-wing protesters. On August 22, Tren wrote: "F**k wheeler. This is y we the patriots have to rise up to clean up his mess. And guess what soon as we are done with these punks. He's next freaking coward !!!!!!"
What is Patriot Coalition?
Patriot Coalition of PNW is a right-wing group that was originally named Patriot Coalition of Oregon but changed to take in members from California, Washington, Colorado, and Idaho. According to investigative news website BellingCat, was founded by in the summer of 2020.
The group is a growing network of extreme right-wing people and actively engaged in organizing violence against Black Lives Matter activists and anti-fascists. Members of the group include also belong to far-right groups such as Proud Boys street gang, Sandy Backs the Blue, the Three Percenters, 1776 2.0.