Hundreds of Donald Trump’s supporters gathered for a large motorcade in support of the US president and police near Portland, where antiracism activists have clashed continuously with law enforcement for more than 100 days.
Small groups of men loaded with paramilitary equipment, many of them armed militants from right-wing extremist groups, milled among the crowd.
About 300 cars, including many massive pickup trucks, then took to the roads surrounding Oregon City, some 50km from Portland, before dispersing.
But 150 to 200 people, led by members of the far-right Proud Boys militia, which advocates white supremacy, decided to follow the road to Oregon’s capital, Salem, for a show of force on the steps of the state capitol building.
Tensions in the Portland area heightened on 29 August when Aaron Danielson, 39, a supporter of the far-right group Patriot Prayer, was shot dead in the city.
He had had just participated in a pro-Trump motorcade like the one on Monday and left the parade to go into Portland with other attendees.
A 48-year-old man named Michael Reinoehl, who claimed to be an “antifascist” on social media, was suspected of the shooting.
He was shot dead five days later by police who were looking for him. Reinoehl allegedly tried to escape and grabbed a gun when he was killed.
Hundreds of American flags waved above the motorcade, often with banners calling for Trump’s reelection on 3 November.
Pictures of Trump, depicting him as Rambo with a machine gun in hand, occasionally appeared on the banners as well.
Cassy Larson, an accountant in a small Oregon town, said: “Trump knows what it takes for capitalism to generate the money to fix the buildings in downtown Portland that are being destroyed by the other people.”
She was referring to the protests against racism and police brutality that have rocked the city and the country since the death in May of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of white police officers.