As Ted Wheeler, the mayor of Portland, Oregon, was holding a press conference on Sunday about the fatal shooting of a right-wing supporter in his city the previous night, the U.S. President Donald Trump engaged him in a real-time argument.
The president started by sending a flurry of critical tweets about the mayor. The visibly angry mayor lashed out at the president, addressing him in the first person through the TV cameras after Trump called him, a Democrat, a “fool” and blamed him for letting violence to increase in the liberal city.
Wheeler said, “That’s classic Trump. Mr. President, how can you think that a comment like that, if you’re watching this, is in any way helpful? It’s an aggressive stance. It is not collaborative. I certainly reached out, I believe collaboratively, by saying earlier that you need to do your part, and I need to do my part, and then we both need to be held accountable.
Let’s work together. Wouldn’t that be a message? Donald Trump and Ted Wheeler working together to help move this country forward. Why don’t we try that for a change?”
In Portland, there were chaotic and volatile that lasted for 24 hours. They started after a caravan of around 600 vehicles packed with Trump supporters drove through Portland and was met with counter-protesters. Violence broke out between the two groups, and a supporter of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer identified as Aaron “Jay” Danielson died on the spot after he was shot about 15 minutes after the caravan left the city. Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson stated that the victim was his good friend.
Trump retweeted, “Rest in peace, Jay!” It is not clear whether the shooting was related to the clashes between Trump supporters and counter-protesters in Portland as Police have released little information. On Sunday, Chief Chuck Lovell said that investigators are collecting evidence, including surveillance video from area businesses. With that in mind, last week, Trump and other speakers at Republican National Convention stated that if Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden wins in November, there will be a violent, dystopian future. They pointed to Portland as a cautionary tale for what would be in store for Americans.
Patriot Prayer was founded in 2016 and is based in Washington state. Its supporters have been periodically coming to Portland to hold rallies for Trump since early 2017. Portland has experienced about 100 consecutive nights of Black Lives Matter protests, of which most of them have ended with vandalism to federal and city property. Trump directed more than 100 federal agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in July to protect federal property. That move instead reinvigorated protests, and thousands of people clashed with the federal agents each night for two weeks. There are more than 600 people who have been arrested in Portland since late May.
As Portland authorities tried to de-escalate tensions and braced for what promised to be another night of violence, on Sunday, they asked people to stay away from the downtown. People planned protest on Sunday night on the city’s east side.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown released details on Sunday of a plan to address the violence in Portland while protecting free speech. She said the district attorney’s office in Multnomah County would take legal action on severe criminal offences and arrest people for violent behaviour and make sure there is adequate jail space.