One person has died after being shot as a large procession of supporters of President Donald Trump clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters on the streets of Portland on Saturday, police said.
Portland, in the US state of Oregon, has been the site of nightly protests for more than three months since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
On Saturday, fights broke out as a caravan of about 600 vehicles was confronted by protesters in the city’s downtown area.
“Portland Police officers heard sounds of gunfire from the area of Southeast 3rd Avenue and Southwest Alder Street. They responded and located a victim with a gunshot wound to the chest. Medical responded and determined that the victim was deceased,” the Portland Police Bureau said in a statement.
In the two hours following the shooting, protesters gathered downtown and there was sporadic fighting and vandalism, police said. Ten people were arrested, police said.
The caravan arrived downtown just as a protest planned for Saturday was getting under way. The chaotic scene came two days after Trump invoked Portland as a liberal city overrun with violence in a speech at the Republican National Convention as part of his “law and order” re-election campaign theme.
The caravan marked the third Saturday in a row that Trump supporters have rallied in the city.
‘All options on the table’
On Sunday, Trump issued a flurry of tweets and retweets including several that blamed Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler for the death and one in which the president appeared to be encouraging his supporters to move into Portland.
“GREAT PATRIOTS!” Trump wrote as he shared video of his supporters driving into Portland to confront the protesters.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf blamed local officials for failing “to protect their communities.”
“I’m asking Portland officials, so that’s the mayor, that’s the governor and that’s local law enforcement, to do their job to address any violent activity that is occurring in their streets,” Wolf told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Wolf said “all options on the table” to resolve the protests and that the federal government was prepared to send agents to Portland and other cities to protect federal buildings and assist police.
When federal agents increased their presence in downtown Portland in July, the city saw some of the largest protests of the summer, with thousands of people turning out nightly. The crowds dissipated after the agents withdrew and State Police agreed to protect federal buildings for a two-week period.
Trump and other speakers at last week’s Republican convention evoked a violent, dystopian future if Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden wins in November and pointed to Portland as a cautionary tale for what would be in store for Americans.
The pro-Trump rally’s organiser, who recently coordinated a similar caravan in Boise, Idaho, said in a video posted Saturday on Twitter that attendees should only carry concealed weapons and the route was being kept secret for safety reasons.
The caravan had gathered earlier in the day at a suburban mall and drove as a group to the heart of Portland. As they arrived in the city, protesters attempted to stop them by standing in the street and blocking bridges.
Videos from the scene showed sporadic fighting, as well as Trump supporters firing paintball pellets at opponents and using bear spray as counter-protesters threw things at the Trump caravan.
The Black Lives Matter demonstrations usually target police buildings and federal buildings. Some protesters have called for reductions in police budgets while the city’s mayor and some in the Black community have decried the violence.