CW: This story has a quote containing strong language.
A captain with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office who provided commissioners a report about anti-fascist operatives engaged in criminal activity was relying on a source that “has been determined to be false,” Sheriff Craig Roberts announced at a press conference Monday.
“I want to clarify, for the record, that one of our captains indicated a source stated that antifa was involved in possible criminal activity,” Roberts said. “That source has since been determined to be false. I also want to make sure that the public is aware that we have an incredible team of detectives that are literally assessing every single call that comes into our office in the evacuated area.
“I also again want to reiterate that we have no suspects as of this date associated with any groups.”
The sheriff also described confirmed incidents of armed and unofficial citizen groups illegally stopping drivers at gunpoint to ask questions and demand identification. Roberts seemed understanding that the groups’ intentions have been to protect property.
“They actually have been armed and are stopping individuals within the commune out there,” Roberts said. “First thing I’d ask them to do is please stop that. We have reached out to a number of them. If they see somebody suspicious, call us. Let us handle it. It is illegal to stop somebody at gunpoint.”
Many of the people returning to the evacuated zones are the residents themselves, Roberts said, going to their own homes to retrieve “another load of their personal belongings.”
“The last thing I want to see is something tragically happen because somebody is overreacting to something they believe is criminal and it’s not,” the sheriff said.
A number of signs have been posted in the rural areas of Clackamas County around Molalla, Estacada, Colton and even Canby, threatening trespassers and would-be criminals with gunfire.
“Home and armed. You loot, we shoot,” one sign said. Another threatens: “We won’t call your family. Your body will never be found! Bang Bang!!”
In Capt. Jeff Smith’s comments, which came during an emergency county meeting Thursday to discuss implementing a curfew, he told the Board of County Commissioners that his office had “reliable sightings and reports” of antifa affiliates in the Estacada area with chainsaws.
“Equally concerning, is there are reports of people from other extremist groups — it’s not confirmed antifa, but it’s suspected antifa,” Smith said. “Reports and sightings of people armed with chainsaws. And the goal was to fell telephone poles in hopes of starting further fires.”
He also said authorities were receiving reports that people were hiding full gas cans all over the county to later ignite.
While at least one commissioner seemed skeptical, several appeared to view Smith’s reports as credible — and it evidently helped push them toward establishing the countywide curfew that went into effect later that night.
His comments came two days before a deputy was placed on leave for being video-recorded making similar comments about alleged antifa arsonists.
In the video, the deputy claimed no firsthand experience with such agents, but instead repeated reports he said he’d received from “conservatives” who were patrolling their areas of the county.
“These antifa motherfuckers are out causing hell,” the deputy — who is only partially seen — can be heard saying near the end of the video. “And there’s a lot of lives at stake and there’s a lot of people’s property at stake because these guys have some vendetta.”
The sheriff’s words are unlikely to fully tamp down the rumors of politically motivated arsonists, which have persisted for days despite numerous denials by various law enforcement agencies across the state — some of whom have gone so far as to beg residents to stop spreading false or unfounded rumors.
Citizen Describes Firsthand Encounter with Alleged Antifa Operative
The Canby Current has received numerous reports from citizens patrolling Clackamas County, including at least one who described a firsthand encounter with a claimed anti-fascist member and provided photographic evidence.
“We’ve confirmed: Antifa’s here. 100 percent,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity for reasons of personal safety, but is well-known to the Current. “I came face to face with them last night.”
The encounter, which occurred on Highway 213 Saturday night, was with an individual the citizen patrols refer to as the “Antifa Medic,” due to the small red crosses of duct tape on the rear and side windows of his black Jeep.
The source provided YouTube videos that appear to show the same vehicle at gatherings declared to be unlawful riots in downtown Portland, as well as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHAZ, in Seattle.
In this case, the black Jeep was observed with several red gas cans tied to the roof, the source said, which was also confirmed in photos.
The “Medic’s” Jeep has reportedly been seen several times throughout the past week in various parts of rural Clackamas County. When our source stumbled across it Saturday night, he was on what he described as a routine patrol, and the Jeep was parked alongside 213 near Molalla.
The driver was not observed lighting a fire or doing anything criminal, but did appear to be “fiddling with the gas cans,” our source said. When approached, he claimed to be operating a drone and trying to assist the firefighting efforts.
“I was like, ‘Dude, the fire is nine miles away,'” our source recalls saying. “‘And it’s dark and smoky. How are you helping anyone?'”
He called the police, whom he said made contact with the suspect but did not take him in for lack of evidence.
When asked about why he believes law enforcement have repeatedly denied the presence of anti-fascist agitators, as well as arrests that others have claimed to have witnessed firsthand, he could not fully explain the reason.
“All I can say is, ‘We’re out here, man, and it’s happening,'” he said. “Fires are popping up in the weirdest places with no explanation as all.”