Graffiti to stay as people mourn Portland activist

Multnomah County

Messages like "Forever in our spirits" and "Armenio lives" are written on the wall of the Democratic Party of Oregon offices

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Tributes of support and love poured in throughout Monday for Sean Kealiher, a political activist who died after being hit by an SUV outside the Democratic Party Headquarters in Northeast Portland.

Kealiher, 23, died at a hospital after his friends rushed him there after the crash Saturday night. The SUV driver fled after his vehicle took out a tree and crashed. No arrests have been made.

Sean D. Kealiher in an undated photo his family provided police with. October 12, 2019. (Courtesy Portland Police Bureau)

Police initially responded to a report of gunshots and found bullet holes in the SUV just after midnight Saturday. The vehicle was smashed into the Oregon Democratic Party building.

Reports indicate Kealiher, an activist and anarchist who went by the name Armenio, may have just left the nearby bar Cider Riot. That’s the spot where a brawl broke out in May between antifa and Patriot Prayer/Proud Boys members.

Graffiti memorializing Sean Kealiher has appeared on the wall of the Democratic Party of Oregon offices where he was hit and killed. October 14, 2019 (KOIN)

Since his death, a memorial at the crash site formed. People left flowers and put out candles. At first, the message “Armenio Rest in Power” was written in chalk on the wall. By Monday afternoon, spray painted messages covered the wall and sidewalk.

The offices of the Democratic Party of Oregon plan to let the recent collage of spray painted messages on their wall stay up, for now.

“We clearly support the family and folks who lost—we are concerned about having a space for people to mourn,” said Brad Martin, the Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Oregon. “We are concerned about the safety of the people who show up and express their concerns as well as staff.”

Officials with the Democratic Party of Oregon have been in contact with Portland police and said they don’t believe they are a target.

Graffiti memorializing Sean Kealiher has appeared on the wall of the Democratic Party of Oregon offices where he was hit and killed. October 14, 2019 (KOIN)

“We understand people’s anger and frustration,” said Martin. “They lost someone who means a great deal to them and they are expressing their concern and their anger. We want to be very supportive.”

Over the weekend, Mayor Ted Wheeler tweeted his sympathies to Kealiher’s family and friends and called the homicide alarming and heartbreaking.

At this time, Kealiher’s family asked for privacy and asked his friends not to comment.

Investigators are still looking to speak with anyone who witnessed the incident, or the chain of events that led up to the crash. If anyone has information, they’re asked to contact Detective Scott Broughton at 503.823.3774 or Detective Rico Beniga at 503.823.0457.

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