As predicted by just about everyone, the highly-publicized ramping up of counter-protesting to the long-running Portland protests turned not only violent but deadly Saturday night.
A man was shot in downtown Portland Saturday evening as a large group of protesters and counter-protesters were moving throughout the area.
At this point, police have not said if the deadly shooting is connected to the demonstrations in any way.
The shooting was reported at about 8:45 p.m. near Southwest 3rd Avenue and Southwest Alder Street. Officers arrived on-scene to find a man with a gunshot wound to the chest; he was later pronounced dead.
Officers closed off the area for a homicide investigation.
Police said the shooting happened shortly after a caravan of President Donald Trump supporters was reportedly leaving the city.
Earlier in the evening, a pro-Trump rally gathered at the Clackamas Town Center and held a procession through downtown Portland. The group was met by counter-protesters supporting Black lives.
KATU reporters and photographers at the scene witnessed several arguments break out between the two groups.
An Associated Press freelance photographer heard three gunshots and then observed police medics attending to 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.
President Trump spent most of Sunday morning tweeting about Portland, a subject he has been more and more vocal about lately after a brief respite after the pullback of federal law enforcement from the city earlier this month.
Denouncing Black Lives Matter protesters as “agitators and thugs,” President Trump on Sunday called for a federal crackdown on demonstrations in cities like Washington, D.C., and Portland, Ore., where a man died after tensions between pro-Trump and liberal groups burst into violence.
Starting before 6 a.m., Trump let loose a barrage of nearly 90 tweets and retweets touting his chances for reelection, attacking Democratic state and local officials over ongoing protests and defending aggressive actions by his supporters in Portland, who appeared to be firing paintballs and pepper spray at onlookers from pickup trucks as they drove through the city streets Saturday night.
“The big backlash going on in Portland cannot be unexpected after 95 days of watching and incompetent Mayor admit that he has no idea what he is doing,” Trump tweeted in response to one such video posted by New York Times reporter Mike Baker, who wrote that the Trump supporters “shot me too.”
“The people of Portland won’t put up with no safety any longer. The Mayor is a FOOL. Bring in the National Guard!” Trump wrote.
Soon after, Trump responded to a video from Saturday that appeared to show a cavalcade of hundreds of vehicles bearing pro-Trump signs and flags driving toward downtown Portland, writing: “GREAT PATRIOTS!”
In response to a video that seemed to show BLM protesters confronting a motorist in D.C., Trump tweeted Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) should “Clean up D.C. or the Federal Government will do it for you. Enough!!!”
He ended his string of tweets just after 8 a.m. with a call for “LAW & ORDER!!!”
NEW from @JoeBiden: “The deadly violence we saw overnight in Portland is unacceptable. Shooting in the streets of a great American city is unacceptable. I condemn this violence unequivocally… And I challenge Donald Trump to do the same.” pic.twitter.com/URPFFwTHxm
— Sarah Mucha (@sarahmucha) August 30, 2020
Saturday’s violence came after President Trump and Mayor Wheeler spent Friday openly sparing, based off a letter to the president the mayor released to the public declining federal assistance.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler does not want federal law enforcement to return to Portland. He sent an open letter to President Trump via email on Friday, declining the president’s recurring offer to send federal aid to the city.
“Dear President Trump,” he wrote in the letter. “Yet again, you said you offered to aid Portland by sending in federal law enforcement to our city. On behalf of the City of Portland: No thanks.”
Wheeler wrote that the president “made the situation far worse” when he sent federal officers to Portland in July.
“Your offer to repeat that disaster is a cynical attempt to stoke fear and distract us from the real work of our city,” said the mayor. “In Portland, we are focused on coming together as a community to solve the serious challenges we face due to systemic racism, a global pandemic and an economic recession.”
The letter comes after President Trump invoked Portland in his acceptance speech Thursday night at the Republican National Convention.
“The Republican Party condemns the rioting, looting, arson, and violence we have seen in Democrat-run cities all, like Kenosha, Minneapolis, Portland, Chicago, and New York, and many others, Democrat-run,” said the president in his speech.
In his letter, Wheeler spoke in support of the peaceful protests and marches that have taken place in Portland.
“Tens of thousands of Portlanders have peacefully protested and marched for the noble cause of fixing our broken criminal justice system,” the mayor sais. “They are part of the proud progressive tradition of Portlanders fighting for justice – from racial justice to economic justice to environmental justice.”
He also condemned the violence that has taken place at some of the recent demonstrations.
“There is no place for looting, arson, or vandalism in our city,” wrote Wheeler. “There is no room here for racist violence or those who wish to bring their ideology of hate into our community. Those who commit criminal acts will be apprehended and prosecuted under the law.”
Wheeler denounced President Trump’s politics “of division and demagoguery” and his response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And he ended the letter with a straightforward statement to the president:
“Stay away, please.”
Speaking of Ted Wheeler, he might be second on the protestor’s list of politicians they want gone, after only President Trump:
A group of protesters sat inside the lobby of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s apartment complex in the Pearl District Friday night, while others demonstrated outside.
Independent journalists on scene estimated there were about 10 people inside the lobby of the building. One of those journalists, Garrison Davis, said the protesters had the following demands for Mayor Wheeler:
Reduce the Portland Police Bureau budget.
Commit to never voting for police budget increases again.
KGW reached out to Mayor Wheeler’s office but has not heard back.
The group that was in the lobby eventually left after a few hours. The mayor never met with them.
Protesters have not, however, gathered outside of Mayor Ted Wheeler’s apartment since June. The last time protesters gathered at Wheeler’s apartment, it was declared an unlawful assembly and Wheeler was seen outside cleaning up trash left behind the next day.
“I live here, and these are my neighbors,” Wheeler said back in June. “And I’m sure they’re not very happy this morning. They’re probably not very excited to be my neighbors at the moment.”
Various videos that are making the rounds:
Tweets used for the videos they contain, and are not endorsements of the account or people associated with that account
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) August 30, 2020
Driving through crowds and macing out of vehicles at SW 4th and Washington. pic.twitter.com/dCNJxYlkYn
— Cory Elia (@TheRealCoryElia) August 30, 2020
There, the Trump armed militia shot paintball and pepper spray from their pick up trucks. pic.twitter.com/iWK2BFBSRo
— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) August 30, 2020
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler responds to the events of Saturday and his running battles with President Trump