Nov. 1 (UPI) — Vancouver, Wash., residents prepared for more unrest along with Halloween mischief Saturday following a night of protests over the fatal shooting of Kevin Peterson Jr., 21, on Thursday by Clark County deputies.
Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson, an organizer of local right-wing events, announced a “flag wave” at a park in Vancouver on Saturday night, claiming that Portland “antifa” would be coming back to Vancouver for another night of demonstrations.
The Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front, a left-wing group that has organized protests in the area since May, has announced a Saturday-afternoon Halloween party in neighboring Portland followed by a demonstration, but did not mention plans to go to Vancouver.
Late Friday night, about 500 protesters clashed with rightwing counter-protesters in downtown Vancouver, following a march from an earlier vigil at the site of the shooting in Hazel Dell. Shots were fired and protestors chanted “Black Lives Matter,” while some threw rocks through windows of public buildings, spray painted walls and burned flags Friday night. Federal agents in riot gear, along with Clark County sheriff’s deputies and Vancouver police finally dispersed the crowds around midnight.
About 1,000 people attended a candlelight vigil earlier Friday night in the U.S. Bank parking lot where Peterson was killed, including members of his family.
Right-wing counter-protesters, some openly carrying weapons, arrived on the scene and buzzed the area with trucks, according to live coverage by Oregon Public Broadcasting. Two trucks crashed into each other and someone fired shots, but there were no injuries, OPB reported. One person was arrested Friday.
Peterson was the father of a young daughter and played on a local high school football team, his family said.
“He did everything for our daughter. He stepped up at such a young age and was truly amazing,” Peterson’s girlfriend, Olivia Selto, told the Columbian on Friday.
“I was on the phone before the shots and stayed on the phone for nine minutes until the police finally came over and hung up the phone,” Selto said. “I heard his last words and everything,” she added. “I’m devastated, and we will get justice for his wrongful death.”
Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins held a news conference Friday afternoon in which he said that a drug task force had identified Peterson as suspected of selling drugs in a hotel parking lot. Atkins said Peterson “reportedly fired a weapon” at sheriff’s deputies.
Atkins called for calm on Friday ahead of the vigil, saying, “It’s important to relate that the loss of a young man’s life likely means there is a grieving father, mother and other family. It is right and correct that the community would grieve along with this family.”
The incident is being investigated by the Southwest Washington Independent Investigation Team led by the Camas Police Department.
Unrest and protests and clashes between left- and right-wing groups have been taking place in nearby Portland, Ore., since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.