1 killed as Trump supporters and protesters clash in Portland
One person was shot and killed late Saturday in Portland as a large caravan of President Trump supporters and Black Lives Matter protesters clashed in the streets, police said.
It wasn’t clear whether the shooting Saturday was linked to fights that broke out as a caravan of about 600 vehicles drove through the city’s downtown where protesters had gathered.
Police said the caravan had left the area around 8:30 p.m., and officers heard gunshots at about 8:46 p.m., according to a statement. Officers arrived at the shooting scene “within a minute,” police said, but the man who was shot did not survive.
Pro-Trump supporters and counter-protesters squared off in the streets in a skirmish that ended with one person being arrested, the latest in a series of demonstrations in the city.
An Associated Press freelance photographer heard three gunshots and then observed police medics working on the body of the victim, who appeared to be a white man. The freelancer said the man was wearing a hat bearing the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group whose members have frequently clashed with protesters in Portland in the past.
Police said the man was shot in the chest. He was not immediately identified. It’s unclear who shot him.
Homicide detectives were looking for more evidence, acknowledging that several images and videos had been posted on social media.
“It is important for detectives get a full and accurate picture of what happened before, during, and after the shooting,” a police statement said. “If anyone was a witness, has video, or has information about the homicide, they’re asked to contact the primary detectives.”
“This violence is completely unacceptable and we are working diligently to find and apprehend the individual or individuals responsible,” Chief Chuck Lovell said.
Relatives of Jacob Blake, who was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last week, led a rally of more than 1,000 people Saturday as protests continued over shootings that left Blake paralyzed and two dead. The White House said President Trump would visit Kenosha on Tuesday.
Portland has been the site of nightly protests for more than three months since the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. Many of them have included vandalism and violent clashes between police and protesters, and hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested by local and federal law enforcement since late May.
In the two hours following the shooting, protesters gathered downtown and there was sporadic fighting and vandalism, police stated. Some gave speeches in Lownsdale Square Park before the protest petered out. Ten people were arrested, police said.
The caravan had arrived downtown just as a protest planned for Saturday was getting underway. The chaotic scene came two days after Trump invoked Portland as a liberal city overrun with violence in a speech at the Republican National Convention as part of his “law and order” reelection campaign theme. The caravan marked the third Saturday in a row that Trump supporters have rallied in the city.
On Sunday, Trump issued a flurry of tweets and retweets including several that blamed Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler for the death and one in which the president appeared to be encouraging his supporters to move into Portland.
“GREAT PATRIOTS!” Trump wrote as he shared video of his supporters driving into Portland to confront the protesters.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf blamed local officials for failing “to protect their communities.”
“I’m asking Portland officials, so that’s the mayor, that’s the governor and that’s local law enforcement, to do their job to address any violent activity that is occurring in their streets,” Wolf told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Wolf said the federal government was prepared to send agents to Portland and other cities to protect federal buildings and assist police.
When federal agents increased their presence in downtown Portland in July, the city saw some of the largest protests of the summer, with thousands of people turning out nightly. The crowds dissipated after the agents withdrew and State Police agreed to protect federal buildings for a two-week period.
Trump and other speakers at this week’s convention evoked a violent, dystopian future if Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden wins in November and pointed to Portland as a cautionary tale. Biden has responded that the chaos, in fact, is happening on Trump’s watch.
The pro-Trump rally’s organizer, who coordinated a similar caravan in Boise, Idaho, earlier in the week, said in a video posted on Twitter on Saturday afternoon that attendees should only carry concealed weapons and that the route was being kept secret for safety reasons.
The caravan of Trump supporters had gathered earlier in the day at a nearby mall and drove as a group to the heart of Portland. As they arrived in the city, protesters attempted to stop them by standing in the street and blocking bridges.
Video from the scene showed sporadic fighting, as well as Trump supporters firing paintball pellets at protesters and using bear spray as protesters threw things at the Trump caravan.
The Black Lives Matter demonstrations usually target police buildings and federal buildings. Some protesters have called for reductions in police budgets while the city’s mayor and some in the Black community have decried the violence.
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