The lead up to the 2020 election is becoming drastically more intense by the day. Saturday night saw tensions boil over into fatal violence leaving one dead after about 1,000 Trump supporters gathered at a mall on the outskirts of town before moving as a 600 car convoy into Downtown Portland where Black Lives Matter protests have been taking place for over 90 consecutive nights.
In spite of the clear lines in the sand drawn between factions on Saturday night and some of the nights key player’s predilection for committing violence in the name of their cause, Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said at a press conference on Sunday that they have not discovered how the events unfolded and have no motive.
“It is still early in this investigation, and I ask everyone to give the detectives time to do their important work before drawing conclusions about what took place,” Lovell said. “If anyone can provide information about this case, I ask them to please reach out to our detectives. This violence is completely unacceptable and we are working diligently to find and apprehend the individual or individuals responsible.”
The violence took place when the Trump 2020 Cruise Rally managed to bypass Portland PD and make it into downtown’s core and into the heart of Black Lives Matter protests. BLM protestors would verbally react to the convoy’s presence, while some tossed objects at the passing vehicles. The Trump supporters in the convoy were filmed spraying protestors with mace and shooting them with paintball guns from the beds of pick-up trucks as they drove past.
Various other videos show fist fights breaking out in the streets of Downtown Portland. At some point, one of these many confrontations and altercations escalated to the point where the victim was shot in the chest. Justin Dunlap witnessed the shooting and told CNN “I heard like three seconds of yelling and saw a guy spray bear mace. The victim sprayed mace and launched it right into the other guy.”
What Do We Know about the Victim?
All we know about the man who was killed on Saturday night is that he was wearing a hat with the Patriot Prayer logo on it. Patriot Prayer has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a violent far-right group with ties to known hate groups like the Proud Boys as well as other anti-government extremist groups.
Both Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys have been known to engage in violence with their opposition. The leader of Patriot Prayer, Joey Gibson, has gone on record instructing members and supporters to be armed when attending rallies like the Trump 2020 Cruise Rally, saying, “everyone should be carrying around guns at all times, especially people in our situation.”
Patriot Prayer associates have also been making threats against Portland residents and Antifa members, with one associate named Skylor Jernigan being quoted saying as saying, “you’re gonna be getting knives put into your throat. You’re going to be getting bullets put into your head if you don’t stop this sh*t with us.”
Portland vs The President: The Political Responses to the Tragedy
President Trump tweeted his thoughts on the unfortunate events that unfolded during that fateful night this morning, tearing into the Mayor of Portland in the process.
“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 tweeted. “The people of Portland won’t put up with no safety any longer. The Mayor is a FOOL. Bring in the National Guard!”
At a press conference Sunday afternoon, Mayor Ted Wheeler criticized the president for “creat[ing] the hate and the division” that brings about situations in which tragedy can strike. Wheeler went on to say, “The tragedy of last night cannot be repeated. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your politics are — we have to all stop the violence.”
Oregon’s Governor, Kate Brown, echoed Wheeler’s thoughts that the president “has encouraged division and stoked violence.”
“It happened in Kenosha. And now, unfortunately, it is happening in Portland, Oregon. But despite the President’s jeers and tweets, this is a matter of life and death. Whether it’s his completely incompetent response to the pandemic, where nearly 200,000 have died, or his outright encouragement of violence in our streets: it should be clear to everyone by now that no one is truly safe with Donald Trump as President.”