A retired U.S. Marine confronted protesters Sunday after he tried to decorate the fence around Portland’s federal courthouse with American flags.
Field reporter Jorge Ventura shared video footage of Gabriel Johnson urging protesters to join him as he stood holding an American flag:
— Jorge Ventura Media (@VenturaReport) July 19, 2020
Johnson told the crowd:
If you stand for justice, come here and stand with me. Stand with me because I’m here for justice. I’m not here to tear down this fucking fence. I’m not here to spraypaint. It’s going on every day. If you don’t want to get gassed, stop. If you don’t want to get gassed, stop. It has to stop. None of you guys represent black lives. Sit and protest. Sit and protest.
Local leaders and community members have condemned the violence that has occurred nightly for over a month and a half, according to Fox 12.
“I felt compelled to show my patriotism and to try to bring a different message to the courthouse,” said Johnson, who suffered from PTSD and lived in a nearby apartment.
“On Friday night, I counted 82 explosions. House full of gas. I’m on the 12th floor here,” he told reporter Audrey Weil:
Transcribing an interview we just did with a Marine veteran who lives a block away from the Justice Center/Federal Courthouse. He said the violence we’ve seen for more than 50 nights is not #BlackLivesMatter and that something has to change. Compares it to experiences in Iraq: pic.twitter.com/gTGPhMvC60
— Audrey Weil (@audreytweil) July 20, 2020
“It reminded me of being in Iraq, and my experience being in Iraq, and not here in Portland, not where it’s supposed to be safe. Not where it’s supposed to be peaceful,” Johnson continued.
However, the veteran said he carried the American flag Saturday night not as a political statement but as a symbol of unity and freedom, according to Fox 12.
“I’m not taking any sides. The side that I take is being a citizen of this country and being a citizen of Portland what’s going on from either side is not cool,” he commented and also criticized the violent protesters.
“These people aren’t about Black Lives and they don’t represent me,” Johnson explained.
Although he did not agree with federal law enforcement officers being in Portland, Johnson supported the police and the city and wanted all citizens to come together.
“It’s been 50-plus days of us being out in the street — and what’s been accomplished?” he told KOIN.