PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler reiterated his message of not tolerating violence in the wake of Saturday’s deadly shooting — and traded barbs with President Donald Trump over the situation, who was tweeting his own comments during a press conference.
Wheeler began Sunday’s briefing, joined by Portland Police Bureau Chief Chuck Lovell and Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt, by offering condolences to the friends and family of the man killed in downtown Portland and condemning the violence. He vowed to support law enforcement in capturing the suspect and holding that person accountable.
“The tragedy of last night cannot be repeated,” Wheeler said. “All of us must take a stand against violence.”
One person died Saturday night after groups of pro-Trump protesters and counterdemonstrators clashed near SW 3rd and Alder, one witness told KOIN 6 News.
While acknowledging the Constitutional right Americans have to come into Portland, he warned anyone “seeking retribution” later Sunday night to “stay away.” The mayor said the situation cannot deescalate without a unified cooperation.
Wheeler then turned the focus to the national front and said Trump’s lack of leadership and unwillingness to denounce violence as the culprit creating the divide in Portland.
“President Trump, you bring no peace,” Wheeler said. “You bring no respect to our democracy. You, Mr. President, need to do your job.”
“[Trump] has an opportunity to uplift us and bring us together and help us move through this difficult situation in our nation’s history,” Wheeler said. “Instead he chooses to play petty politics and divide us.
President Trump live-tweeted during Wheeler’s remarks:
Ted Wheeler, the wacky Radical Left Do Nothing Democrat Mayor of Portland, who has watched great death and destruction of his City during his tenure, thinks this lawless situation should go on forever. Wrong! Portland will never recover with a fool for a Mayor….— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2020
Wheeler later fielded questions from local media wanting to know what the city’s next step would be.
“Obviously I’ve stood at this podium several times and have expressed what my greatest fear would be,” Wheeler said when when a reporter questioned Wheeler’s effectiveness as a leader able to end the violence. “My greatest fear is that somebody will die. And now somebody has. And we as a community are mourning, and I, as the mayor, am accountable to the public and will continue to be accountable.”
Saturday night’s shooting victim, who has not been identified by authorities, was a “good friend” of Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson, Gibson told The Associated Press.
During Sunday’s press conference, Chief Lovell reiterated the need for witnesses or those with information to step forward, including those with photos. He also said that while it did not work well the last time the city imposed a curfew amid mass demonstrations, another potential curfew is “not totally off the table.”
Sunday afternoon, a Department of Justice spokesperson confirmed that the FBI and the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting PPB in the investigation.
Presidential candidate Joe Biden also released a statement, saying he condemns violence of every kind.
State, local lawmakers speak out
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued a statement on the incident Sunday afternoon with harsh words for President Trump:
For the last several years, and escalating in recent months, President Trump has encouraged division and stoked violence. It happened in Charlottesville. It happened in Kenosha. And now, unfortunately, it is happening in Portland, Oregon.Governor Kate Brown on Saturday’s shooting
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.
Throughout this pandemic, whether it was demonstrations protesting my COVID-19 executive orders, or large crowds marching for the cause of Black Lives Matter to call for police reform, I have supported the rights of all Oregonians to peacefully protest. “For months this summer, we have seen powerful images of Oregonians uniting for the cause of racial justice, calling for justice for Black men and women who have been killed by police violence. We remember them, we say their names. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. Philando Castile. Alton Sterling. And far too many other Black lives taken by racist violence. “For weeks, we have also seen small groups of demonstrators from all ends of the political spectrum who are intent on committing acts of vandalism and violence. Tragically, yesterday a life was lost in downtown Portland. We do not yet know the full circumstances of this person’s death. Regardless, a life has been lost, and our hearts go out to this person’s family. We will find those who were responsible, and they will be held accountable.
MultCo District Attorney ‘We do not support violence’
Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury also released a statement Sunday morning about the shooting, reading in part:
“Last night, an event that was clearly intended to intimidate, provoke and endanger individuals resulted in a fatality. The loss of life is tragic and unacceptable. …
While the overwhelming majority of protestors have engaged in non-violent demonstration to call for police accountability, racial justice and the dismantling of racist institutions, we have also seen instances of interpersonal violence, vandalism and destruction.
Then last night — stoked by a president who has gone out of his way to demonize this city and encourage vigilantism in service to white supremacy and his own fragile ego — armed participants of a pro-Trump caravan terrorized downtown Portland, driving their vehicles and shooting paintballs and pepper spray directly at community members and journalists. They came to create confrontation and were able to do so.
This tragedy will be used to justify escalating violence. It will be used to paint an entire movement with a broad and misleading brush. And sadly, it will be used by the occupant of the White House to deepen divisions and fear.”
Multnomah County Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty tweeted a statement Sunday afternoon:
Today I am saddened but not surprised.— Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty (@JoAnnPDX) August 30, 2020
As a child of the civil rights movement rooted in non-violence, to me, any loss of life is a tragedy. No one should fear that by expressing their constitutional right to protest that they may lose their life. (Full Statement) pic.twitter.com/iOeBVMUE8t
Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese also tweeted a statement Sunday afternoon:
1/ At protest events across the metro area Saturday, people arrived armed with rifles, handguns and other weapons, increasing already high tensions and setting the stage for a dangerous situation. Last night, Portland witnessed a tragic outcome when a man was shot and killed…— Mike Reese (@SheriffReese) August 30, 2020
Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici also released a statement.
“Last night a man was killed in Portland. We do not know all of the details about what happened yet, but we do know that it followed days and weeks and years of hostile comments from President Trump designed to divide our country. A caravan devoted to his cause came to Portland yesterday with the intent to further inflame tensions, endangering our city. At the end of the night, a tragedy occurred. I send my condolences to the victim’s family for their loss.
“We must remember why the protests in Portland began – the need to come together and make systemic changes that address the centuries of racist policies and law enforcement actions that have taken countless Black lives too soon. The House has passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to help and I will continue to work for the change our community needs. At its core this movement is not about Trump or any political leader – it is about finally reckoning with our racist history, and choosing to build a future where all of us are truly safe and respected.”
Senator Ron Wyden also released a statement.