A fatal shooting of a man affiliated with a right-wing group in Portland, Oregon. on Saturday prompted President Donald Trump to post a flurry of tweets Sunday, playing on his campaign theme of unsafe cities and protester-agitated violence.
The victim’s name has not been released and no suspect has been publicly identified.
The shooting came during a pro-Trump rally that drew hundreds of trucks into the city, amidst the nightly Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests that have taken place for three months since the police killing of George Floyd. Video captured footage of protesters and Trump supporters physically brawling and throwing items at one another, a scene amplifying the unrest Trump is trying to center his campaign around, contrasting himself with former Vice President Joe Biden who he says is “blaming the Police far more than he’s blaming the Rioters, Anarchists, Agitators, and Looters.”
A video of the Saturday shooting showings a small group of people in the road, gunfire erupts and the man falls down. The man who was killed was wearing a hat with a Patriot Prayer insignia, a far-right Portland-based group that says it promotes Christianity and smaller government.
The shooting came after renewed tension from the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake, which left him paralyzed from the waist down. Protests stemming from the Blake shooting led to 17-year-old Illinois resident Kyle Rittenhouse being charged after two Wisconsin protesters were shot and killed.
Trump has fired off a multitude of tweets about Kenosha, but his Sunday tweets about the Trump rally-involved shooting prompted accusations that he was promoting violence.
The president posted and reposted a series of tweets criticizing the city’s Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler, retweeted a video of his supporters shooting paintballs and pepper-spraying protesters and wrote that “the big backlash going on in Portland cannot be unexpected.”
Biden denounced Trump’s apparent justification of the chaos, saying Trump was “recklessly encouraging violence.”
“I condemn violence of every kind by anyone, whether on the left or the right,” Biden said. “And I challenge Donald Trump to do the same.”
Wheeler similarly rebuked the violence during a news conference at City Hall, and called on Trump to de-escalate tensions while blaming some of his commentary for inciting “hate and division.”
“Do you seriously wonder, Mr. President,” he said, “why this is the first time in decades that America has seen this level of violence? It’s you who have created the hate and the division.”
He continued: “We need to reset. The president needs to reset. I need to reset. This community needs to reset. And America needs to reset. And it’s going to take his leadership in the White House and it’s going to take my leadership here in City Hall to get it done.”
Trump responded on Twitter calling the mayor a “dummy.”
“He would like to blame me and the Federal Government for going in, but he hasn’t seen anything yet,” the president tweeted.