A fatal shooting in Portland has led to a war of words between Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and President Donald Trump.
Less than 24 hours after a fatal shooting that sparked a war of words between Portland mayor’s and the president, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Sunday night announced her plan to end violence in the state’s largest city after months of protests.
Brown called on multiple law enforcement agencies — state and local — to assist the Portland Police Bureau and announced plans for a community forum to protect the right to free speech.
The announced plan comes after a man fatally shot on a Portland street amid clashes between supporters of President Donald Trump and protesters was identified as a “good friend” of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer, founder Joey Gibson said Sunday.
While Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and other city officials expressed their condolences during a Sunday afternoon press conference, Brown blamed Patriot Prayer for instigating violence.
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“The right-wing group Patriot Prayer and self-proclaimed militia members drove into downtown Portland last night, armed and looking for a fight,” Brown said in a statement. “Every Oregonian has the right to freely express their views without fear of deadly violence. I will not allow Patriot Prayer and armed white supremacists to bring more bloodshed to our streets.”
She added: “Time and again, from Charlottesville to Kenosha to Portland, we have seen the tragic outcome when armed right-wing vigilantes take matters into their own hands. Gun violence is never, ever the answer.”
Brown’s plan calls for the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office to “prosecute serious criminal offenses, including arson and physical violence.” Under the plan, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office will hold individuals for violent behavior. Plus, the Oregon State Police will assist PPB and wear body cams while doing so.
The governor is also asking the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Gresham Police Department to support Portland police. The Oregon State Police is also providing two dozen body cams to the Portland Police Bureau.
Also, the United States Attorney and the FBI will commit additional resources, according to Brown’s plan.
“Change will not come overnight, and, as we have seen in these last months, it does not come easily either,” Brown said. “But we are building a more just future.”
It was not immediately clear whether the shooting Saturday night was related to the confrontations, police said. Patriot Prayer supporters have frequently clashed with Black Lives Matters protesters in the embattled city since Memorial Day, when the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis while in police custody prompted protests nationwide.
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A Sunday press conference didn’t provide much detail about the shooting. Portland Police Bureau Chief Chuck Lovell said he didn’t know whether it was politically motivated and added the investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made. He and other officials called for peace.
“The issue with firearms is very troubling to us, but people do have a constitutional right to carry firearms legally,” Lovell said. “So, it’s hard to prevent. Some of the instances that take place, you’re talking split-second, a couple of seconds. A lot of times we’re not right there to see things happen.
“I think the best we can do is message to people that we want a safe city and we ask them not to come downtown to these other places with firearms. Not engage in violent acts of crime.”
Wheeler also called for those seeking “retribution” for the shooting to “stay away” from the city, calling the fatal shooting a “potential flashpoint.”
“That’s why I’m asking people, if you’re from out of town and you’re reading something on social media, please understand, if you’re reading any facts on social media, they’re probably wrong, because we don’t have all the facts yet.”
He added, “This is not the time to get hotheaded because you read something on Twitter that some guy made up in his mother’s basement.”
Trump responded with a Twitter barrage Sunday morning aimed at protesters, Wheeler, Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and top Democrats in Congress. During the press conference, Trump tweeted again, saying Portland “will never recover with a fool for a Mayor.”
He called Wheeler “weak and pathetic” in another later tweet.
Videos of Saturday’s shooting circulated on social media, and Portland police pleaded with the public to aid the investigation.
“If anyone can provide information about this case, I ask them to please reach out to our detectives,” Lovell said. “This violence is completely unacceptable, and we are working diligently to find and apprehend the individual or individuals responsible.”
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Police said a caravan of hundreds of vehicles carrying Trump supporters from a rally in nearby Clackamas slowly rolled through downtown. Officers responded to fights, disturbances and collisions and made some arrests Saturday night. By around 8:30 p.m. local time, the caravan had left downtown. The shooting took place about 15 minutes later.
Photos from the scene showed the victim wearing a Patriot Prayer hat. Gibson said he arrived shortly after the shooting and was briefly corralled in a nearby gas station by angry protesters. Lovell didn’t provide any additional details on the victim during Sunday’s press conference.
“I can’t say much right now. All I can do is verify that he was a good friend and a supporter of Patriot Prayer,” Gibson said.
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Trump took to Twitter on Sunday, again urging local leaders to call in the National Guard. Residents of Portland and other cities led by Democrats are disgusted with their leadership and with top Democrats in Washington, Trump said.
“Wheeler is incompetent, much like Sleepy Joe Biden,” Trump tweeted. “This is not what our great Country wants. They want Safety & Security, and do NOT want to Defund our Police!”
Biden issued a statement Sunday condemning the “violence of every kind by anyone, whether on the left or the right.” He challenged Trump to do the same.
Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., national co-chairman for the Biden campaign, was among Democrats pushing back hard Sunday. Richmond, said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that Trump “keeps talking about what Biden’s America would look like. Well, this is Trump’s America.”
Brown, the governor, said Trump has “encouraged division and stoked violence.”
Wheeler echoed Brown during Sunday’s press conference.
“I’m going to do the work that I need to do here in my local community with my local officials to take accountability for what’s happening on our streets and I’d appreciate that either the president support us, or he stay the hell out of the way,” he said.
But, Wheeler is drawing scrutiny in his own city. Several civil rights groups and protest coalitions have called for his resignation.
“This could all have been prevented,” said Bobbin Singh, executive director of the Oregon Justice Resource Center. “There were 100 different decisions that could have led us on a different path.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
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