Photo by Melissa “Claudio” Lewis

On the bright, sunny morning of July 25th, a photo began circulating in back channels and on Twitter. In the antifascist community, it’s not uncommon to see a sticker, flyer, or banner that needs to be removed immediately. People mobilize, sweep an area, and take them all down. It feels a little like hunting.

Everyone hates finding alerts where art has been defaced, like it had been on the 25th. A beautiful, colorful mural made of geometric shapes featuring George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery had been defaced by Patriot Front. The neo Nazi group had gone over the mural with a white paint roller, and stenciled it with their logo in red and blue. An ugly erasure of a memorial.

Photo by Melissa “Claudio” Lewis

While outwardly white nationalist, Patriot Front’s primary focus has been continuous property damage nationwide rather than violence. Antifascists are not inherently opposed to property damage to make a point, but Patriot Front targets locations of significance such as George Floyd memorials and recently the bust of York statue at Mt. Tabor Park. Patriot Front will occasionally hold flash mob-style rallies, where they will seemingly appear out of thin air to protest (most recently, it was out of Penske trucks, not thin air).

On July 3rd, Patriot Front attempted to flood the streets of Philadelphia with their ranks but were quickly chased out by a few citizens and antifascists. It was an embarrassing night for them, many were photographed getting walked out of the city by jeering Philadelphians, attempting and failing to use military formation, even being run off by teenagers.

Despite that embarrassment, Patriot Front stickers, flyers, and banners continue to pop up in Portland. More often than not, antifascists just sweep the area and tear down the posters and stickers. In July, a Patriot Front banner was pulled from over Highway 26 within 30 minutes of its discovery.

Seemingly emboldened and excited, the mural was attacked at some point in the night, and one community member did report hearing screeching tires and yelling around 2:30 a.m.

St. Beatrix bakery is one of many businesses next to the mural on Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard and Failing Street. When St. Beatrix’s owner Jess and her staff member Tommy saw the mural had been harmed, they made social media posts, offered free coffee and pastries, and contacted the artist for restorations.

Image from St. Beatrix’s Instagram page

St. Beatrix got the word out quickly, noticing the defacement very early and spreading the word privately and on their Instagram page. By 8:30 a.m., the photo of the vandalized mural had been blasted out on Twitter and Instagram. By the time I arrived to help scrub “Patriot Front” off the wall at 10 a.m., the stenciled words were nearly gone. Turns out Goo Gone solvent and Magic Erasers can solve nearly everything.

By noon, all the removal work was done. Somehow this was also when Sam Adams (from the Mayor’s Office) became aware and offered assistance for a job already completed. The mural’s artist, Christian Grijalva, scheduled the community to come and repaint the mural as a community at 2 p.m. Antifascists, artists, and neighbors came together to bring the mural back to life.

The community around MLK and Failing was disturbed by the outwardly fascist attack, but also comforted by the immediate response from the community. “I feel like just by spreading the word this morning, and seeing that people are already here I feel great… I’m really proud of everyone that’s here right now.” Jess said, before loading up more free drinks.

Photo by Melissa “Claudio” Lewis


Melissa “Claudio” Lewis began her professional career in psychology. While building her career she encountered multiple ethical violations that lead her to be a whistleblower and witness, and more recently worked in the non profit sector with incarcerated adults as a mental health practitioner. Melissa felt drawn to independent journalism as she noticed similar ethical violations occurring during protests, and transitioned fully into journalism.