A day of clashes between a pro-Trump caravan and counterprotesters turned violent Saturday, culminating in the shooting death of a man in the streets of Portland, Oregon.
Supporters of President Donald Trump had gathered in a Portland suburb in an apparent show of force and an attempt to counter the Black Lives Matter protests that have been ongoing in Oregon’s biggest city for months.
The pro-Trump vehicle rally began near Clackamas, southeast of the city center. The caravan, made up of hundreds of cars and trucks, traveled for several hours throughout the city, Portland police said at a news conference Sunday. Mayor Ted Wheeler said at the same news conference that the caravan was « supported and energized by the president himself. »
Police said that they tried to take « precautionary measures » to keep protesters out of the downtown area but that they were unsuccessful. Once the caravan reached downtown, clashes occurred between the pro-Trump demonstrators and counterprotesters, police said.
Justin Dunlap, an independent journalist who was on the ground in Portland on Saturday, said that the « Trump car caravan was causing trouble » and that he heard reports that it was pepper-spraying people. Dunlap also said there were reports of people being hit by paintballs from caravan members.
The day ended in the one death, about which police have yet to provide many details.
Dunlap said he saw the victim facing two people when he heard the shots. He did not see the gun being fired because mace was sprayed at the same time, and it remains unclear whether or how the shooting was connected to the protests.
The victim turned « took a few steps, then fell face down, » said Dunlap, 44, adding that the two people facing him ran from the scene.
A picture from the scene published by Getty Images showed the man wearing a hat with the logo of Patriot Prayer, which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a far-right organization. The group has previously rallied in Portland.
« All of us must take a stance against violence. It doesn’t matter who are you or what your politics are. We have to all stop the violence, » he said at a press conference, blaming Trump in part for the violence.
« Do you seriously wonder, Mr. President, why this is the first time in decades that America has seen this level of violence? It is you, » Wheeler said.
Trump had criticized the mayor and praised the caravan Sunday morning, calling its members « GREAT PATRIOTS » on Twitter.
The president has often called for a return to « law and order » in Portland, where Black Lives Matter protests have continued since May.
« 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, » he wrote on Twitter.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown slammed Trump on Sunday, blaming him for the violence in a statement.
« President Trump has encouraged division and stoked violence. It happened in Charlottesville. It happened in Kenosha. And now, unfortunately, it is happening in Portland, Oregon, » said the governor, who condemned violence from « all ends of the political spectrum. »
« I condemn violence of every kind by anyone, whether on the left or the right. And I challenge Donald Trump to do the same, » Biden said. « It does not matter if you find the political views of your opponents abhorrent. Any loss of life is a tragedy. »
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