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Peace or violence? Police say no, FB commenters yes

After Thursday’s walkout, Facebook commenters reported numerous incidents of harassment or violence.

“Kids ripping a Trump flag down from a truck and harassing the guy! We were being called gringos when driving by a group of Hispanic students!” wrote Melissa Kline.

“There were fist-fights and our entire town was shut down, there were threats of violence against whites,” wrote Gayle Mitchell-Parker.

“I know of 2 occurrences of hispanics beating up white students at the walk out,” wrote Tonda Schi Smith.

“Kids were running amok, burning American flags, attacking cars, throwing racial slurs and accusing fellow students who didn’t join the walkout as racist!”

But Forest Grove Police Capt. Mike Herb said the department received only one call alleging an illegal action.

“This was a peaceful event,” he wrote to the News-Times, which contacted him about the reports of violence. “We received no credible reports or evidence of attacks, flag burning, people ‘running wild’ or property damage from the walkout.  (We used discretion and restraint in the pedestrian violations associated with hundreds of people walking down the middle of a public roadway.)  There were also a few times our officers told kids to stop hanging from cars that were moving down Main Street for their safety — and they immediately complied.

“I received one phone call from a guy complaining that he heard flag burning was going on and wanted to know ‘what we were doing about it.’ When I pressed him for additional details as exactly who was doing it and where it was happening — he said he had only ‘heard about it.’   All the other chatter was on social media — but not a single picture surfaced that I’m aware of.  No specific information was ever reported to us.

“The only enforcement action taken by FGPD during the day related to this event was later in the afternoon.  A subject from Oregon City saw what was happening in Forest Grove on the news and drove here with a Trump sign to try and ‘stir the pot.’  One group of students got into a vehicle and started chasing the subject.  Officers observed careless and erratic driving by both parties and stopped both vehicles.  The student driver did not have a license to drive and was issued a citation.  The subject from Oregon City was issued multiple citations related to the driving observed.

We had no other issues.”

Anyone who wants to report violent or potentially illegal incidents related to the walkout can call the FGPD at 503-992-3260.

The News-Times has attempted to contact the Facebook commenters to get more details on the incidents they reported. The only person we’ve spoken with said she’d heard secondhand about a flag-burning incident and didn’t have proof it happened.

One case of confirmed anti-Trump violence came from FGHS senior Natan Ludmier-Zmudzinski, whose Trump flag was stolen and torn in half. (See “Trump suporters feel the hate” on page A5.)

In the other direction, a photo circulating on Twitter and Instagram showed a young white male in a USA T-shirt, holding a gun with a “Build a Wall” sign hanging from its barrel.

Herb was unfamiliar with the photo. Kevin Amsden, whose Facebook page identifies him as a McMinnville High School student, posted that and similar photos Thursday, May 19, the day of the FGHS walkout. The photo was retweeted by FGHS students who are Trump supporters.