A registered Democrat and supporter of Bernie Sanders is protesting against a rally in Oregon earlier this month. He had been brutally beaten by militant members of his own movement because he had a "fascist symbol" – an American flag.
Paul Welch told The Oregonian / Oregon Live that he took the flag when he went to Portland on August 4 to face a right-wing rally in the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Although the American flag is more commonly associated with the conservative movement, Welch, an Oregon man who voted for Sanders during the 2016 Democratic presidential campaign, said he wanted to "take it back."
"The right thing and certainly a lot of smaller groups like Patriot Prayer, could rush to things like the flag and try it as" This is our exclusive symbol, "which told The Oregonian / Oregon Live." Part of my thinking was to take it back. "
Aside from a few strange looks, Welch said he did not have any problems when he joined the hundreds of counter-demonstrators who had gathered at City Hall that day
He said two black-clad people covering their faces approached him, demanding that he give them the "fascist symbol" he wore. When he refused, the antifa duo tried to rip the flag out of his hands.
Another masked counter-protestor then approached Welch and began beating him from behind with an unidentified weapon in black cloth.
Welch, 38, was
"My bones turned to Jell-O and I just went down," Welch recalls. "I remember there was a very good chance that I could be beaten to death."
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Video of the incident, which was viewed thousands of times, shows the person running away with the weapon. But another protester holding a shield moves in, stands over Welch and then nudges him with an improvised weapon.
A group of volunteer road doctors run to Welch's help and take him to an emergency medical center in the city. Doctors needed four braces to close a 3-inch wound on Welch's head, and he spent at least two days recovering from a concussion.
Wel submitted a police report and Sgt. Chris Burley, a Portland police spokesman, told the Oregonian / Oregon Live that the authorities were investigating the incident.
Welch said he was confused and disappointed because he went to the rally to "show a liberal, free Portland – or something similar. The big city is really much American and much more numerous and stronger than any of these groups."  "It's the worst kind of political theater for me," Welch said, what happened to him. "It's like playing in your opponent's hand when you do that, but I was not there for that."
Effie Baum, a Popular Mobilization spokesman, a group that helped counter-protest at City Hall to organize, declined to comment.
At least three people were hospitalized after clashes between the two right-wing demonstrators and anti-fascist demonstrators. The rage after the attack was directed largely against the Portland police, which used "less lethal" counterinsurgency weapons.