Portland mayor, Trump trade blame after fatal protest shooting

The mayor of Portland, Oregon, and President Donald Trump engaged in a real-time argument Sunday as the president sent a flurry of critical tweets about Ted Wheeler as the mayor was holding a press conference about the fatal shooting of a right-wing supporter in his city the night before.

1 man dead after groups clashed in the city's streets Saturday night

Protesters clash in Portland, 1 person shot dead

2 years ago
Duration 4:27
One person was shot and killed late Saturday in Portland, Ore. It wasn't clear if the shooting was linked to fights that broke out between pro-Trump supporters and counter-protesters.

The mayor of Portland, Ore., and President Donald Trump engaged in a real-time argument Sunday as the president sent a flurry of critical tweets about Ted Wheeler as the mayor was holding a press conference about the fatal shooting of a right-wing supporter in his city the night before.

After Trump called Wheeler, a Democrat, a "fool" and blamed him for creating the toxic environment in the liberal city that led to the shooting, the visibly angry mayor lashed out at the president, addressing the president in the first person through the TV cameras.

"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 in a collaborative manner, 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," Wheeler said.

"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?"

The testy news conference followed a chaotic and volatile 24 hours in Portland that began when a caravan of about 600 vehicles packed with Trump supporters drove through Portland and was met with counter-protesters. Skirmishes broke out between the groups and, about 15 minutes after the caravan left the city, a supporter of the far-right group Patriot Prayer was fatally shot.

A man is treated after being shot on Saturday night in Portland, Ore. Fights broke out in the city's downtown as a caravan of supporters of President Donald Trump drove through the city, clashing with counter-protesters. (Paula Bronstein/The Associated Press)

It wasn't clear if the shooting was related to the clashes between Trump supporters and counter-protesters in Portland, which has become a flashpoint in the national Black Lives Matter protests since George Floyd was killed in May. It's also an increasing centrepiece in Trump's law-and-order re-election campaign theme.

Trump and other speakers at last week's Republican National 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.

Police have released little information. Portland Chief Chuck Lovell said Sunday that investigators are still gathering evidence, including surveillance video from area businesses. Earlier Sunday, the agency released a plea for any information related to the killing, including videos, photos or eyewitness accounts.

Joey Gibson, head of Patriot Prayer, told The Associated Press the man who was shot to death Saturday night was a supporter of his group and a "good friend," although he did not identify him. Patriot Prayer is based in Washington state and was founded in 2016. Since early 2017, its supporters have been periodically coming to Portland to hold rallies for Trump, ratcheting up tensions in the liberal city long before the national outrage over Floyd's death sparked more than three months of protests here.

Feds prepared to send federal agents again

Portland has seen nearly 100 consecutive nights of Black Lives Matter protests and many have ended with vandalism to federal and city property, including police precincts, a county jail, the federal courthouse and City Hall. In July, Trump sent more than 100 federal agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to safeguard federal property — a move that instead reinvigorated the protests.

Thousands of people clashed with the federal agents each night for two weeks, turning a two-block area of the city into what felt like a war zone each night as agents lobbed tear gas canisters and pepper spray at the crowds and some protesters tossed fireworks at the agents and shone lasers in their eyes.

Those agents withdrew July 31 but smaller nightly protests have continued in pockets of the city. More than 600 people have been arrested since late May.

WATCH | U.S. politics panel on protests, race and RNC:

Protests, race and the Republican National Convention | U.S. Politics Panel

2 years ago
Duration 9:59
A panel of political experts — David Frum, Errin Haines and Michael DuHaime — discuss how ongoing protests about racial injustice and pro sports boycotts will affect politics heading into November’s election, especially with the overlap with the Republican National Convention.

On Sunday, Portland authorities urged people to stay away from the downtown as they try to de-escalate tensions and braced for what promised to be another night of violence.

Trump earlier Sunday appeared to be encouraging his supporters to move into Portland in the wake of the shooting. After the shooting, the president shared a video of his supporters driving into Portland and called those in Saturday's caravan "GREAT PATRIOTS!"

Wheeler begged those who wanted to come to Portland to "seek retribution" to stay away.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler calls for an end to violence in the city during a news conference on Sunday. (Sean Meagher/The Oregonian via AP)

"If you're from out of town and you're reading something on social media — if you're reading any facts on social media — they're probably wrong because we don't have all the facts yet," Wheeler said. "They are still assembling the facts. This is not the time to get hotheaded because you read something on Twitter that some guy made up in his mother's basement."

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's Face the Nation.

Wolf said the federal government was prepared to send agents to Portland and other cities to protect federal buildings and assist police.

WATCH | Man shot after Trump supporters and protesters clash in Portland:

Man shot dead after Trump supporters and protesters clash in Portland

2 years ago
Duration 2:18
President Donald Trump is blaming the Mayor of Portland, Ore., for the fatal shooting of a man, following a clash between Trump supporters and Black Lives Matter activists. While it's not yet clear whether the death is directly connected to the confrontation, both Presidential campaigns are commenting on it.

Lovell and Wheeler said they had no plans to request National Guard troops but the city is seeking assistance from the sheriff's department and Oregon State Police.

Wheeler, who is running for a second term, also rejected a call for his resignation made Sunday by a coalition of civil rights and protest groups. He has come under fire from some in Portland for criticizing violent demonstrators and saying they were helping Trump with his reelection campaign.

The mayor, who is also the police commissioner, has also been faulted for letting Portland police use tear gas on multiple occasions and has been nicknamed "Tear Gas Teddy" by some protesters.