Proud Boys member found guilty of assault, other charges in Portland protests

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FILE – In this Sept. 5, 2020, file photo, police use chemical irritants and crowd control munitions to disperse protesters during a demonstration in Portland, Ore. Authorities said Tuesday, June 15, 2021, a grand jury returned an indictment against a Portland police officer, accusing him of hitting a protester in the head with a baton in 2020. The city saw widespread, often violent protests following the police killing of George Floyd. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon jury on Tuesday found a member of the far-right group the Proud Boys guilty of assault, menacing and unlawful use of a weapon for pulling out a loaded revolver, firing paintballs and spraying bear mace at people during Portland protests last year.

Prosecutors called Alan Swinney a “vigilante cowboy,” while Swinney and his lawyer argued he was acting in self-defense against “agitators” who wouldn’t stop harassing him.

The charges stem from demonstrations on Aug. 15 and Aug. 22, 2020, as clashes erupted between right-wing and left-wing groups armed with paintballs, bear mace, pepper spray, umbrellas and shields, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. The protests were among rallies that were held nationwide after a white police officer murdered George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis.

The jury found Swinney, 51, guilty of 11 of 12 charges.

Swinney, of Texas, came to Portland “dressed for battle” in August because of his “hatred for the left, for antifa,” declaring on social media a “civil war” and urging supporters to join him for “more than a normal flag wave,” Deputy District Attorney Reid C. Schweitzer told jurors in his closing arguments.

“He came here with a six shooter so that he could terrorize our social justice movement here in Portland, plain and simple,” said Nathan Vasquez, co-prosecutor and deputy district attorney.

Swinney took the witness stand for nearly eight hours Friday. He testified that he wore riot-control gear to protect himself and others in his group from people he called “agitators,” who, he said, throw bottles, rocks and other objects and harass them as they show support for police.

Swinney, who has been in Multnomah County jail since his arrest on Sept. 30, 2020, now awaits sentencing.

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