A member of the right-wing hate group Proud Boys was arrested in Oregon the morning after the first presidential debate, in which Donald Trump declined to disavow white supremacy, for assault and weapons charges resulting from a confrontation he had with protestors in August.
Alan Swinney, who Oregon Public Broadcasting identified as a member of Proud Boys and the far-right protester that pointed a gun at demonstrators in downtown Portland last month, was arrested on Wednesday morning on multiple assault charges. He also faced charges for unlawful use of a weapon and unlawful use of tear gas, stun gun or mace, the outlet reported, as well as pointing a firearm at another person.
The 50-year-old, who remains held at the Multnomah County Jail, was seen pulling out a gun during a clash with countrprotestors at the Multnomah County Justice Center on videos shared online from the 22 August rally.
Though he initially claimed he was cleared by officials of any wrongdoing during the violent clash, Swinney was reportedly arrested just hours after the president delivered a startling message to the hate group at Tuesday night’s debate in Ohio: “Proud Boys – stand back and stand by.”
“Somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left,” Mr Trump added, referring to the anti-facisct movement that does not have any organizational structure in the United States.
Mr Trump was asked to disavow white supremacy and white nationalist, extremist and other right-wing groups responsible for violence and violent clashes at nationwide protests with increasing frequency in recent months.
The president’s close advisers have defended his debate performance, noting how he said “sure” when he was initially asked to disavow white supremacy.
However, Republican leaders on Capitol Hill were quick to distance themselves from the swift backlash that Mr Trump’s comments sparked online, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying in a statement that it was “unacceptable not to condemn white supremacists”.
Mr Swinney pointed a revolver at the counterprotestors as fights broke out in the streets just outside of the county justice center, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported, with videos showing demonstrators ducking behind barriers as he pulled out the gun. No shots were fired.
Answering questions from reporters the day after the debates in Ohio, former Vice President Joe Biden called on the Proud Boys to “cease and desist” while denouncing the president’s performance the night before as a “national embarrassment”.
“The president of the United States conducting himself the way he did, I think it was just a national embarrassment,” he said. “My message to the Proud Boys and every other white supremacist group is cease and desist.”
“That’s not who we are,” Mr Biden added about the Proud Boys. “This is not who we are as Americans.”