Trump and Biden trade blame over Portland unrest


    US President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden have clashed over the violence that has erupted at protests in Portland, Oregon.

    Mr Trump blamed the Democrat mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, for allowing the « death and destruction of his city ».

    A man was shot dead in Portland on Saturday as elsewhere in the city a pro-Trump rally clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters.

    Portland has become a flashpoint for demonstrations against police brutality and racism since the police killing of African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May triggered a wave of national and international outrage.

    Mayor Wheeler warned against people coming to the city to seek revenge amid a flurry of social media posts.

    « For those of you saying on Twitter this morning that you plan to come to Portland to seek retribution, I’m calling on you to stay away, » he said.

    He also hit back at Mr Trump’s criticism, saying it was the US president who had « created the hate and the division ».

    « I’d appreciate it if the president would support us or stay the hell out of the way, » he said. Some activists have called for the mayor’s resignation, saying he was not capable of resolving the protests.

    In a series of tweets on Sunday, Mr Trump said that « Portland will never recover with a fool for a mayor », and suggested sending federal forces to the city.

    In a statement, Mr Biden said: « [Trump] may believe tweeting about law and order makes him strong – but his failure to call on his supporters to stop seeking conflict shows just how weak he is. »

    Law and order is a major theme of President Trump’s bid for re-election, painting the Democrats and their candidate Joe Biden as soft on crime.

    Earlier, acting US Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said Democrats officials in Portland had allowed « lawlessness and chaos » to develop, saying « all options » were on the table to resolve the situation.

    Democrats have responded by saying the violence is happening under Mr Trump’s presidency, and accuse the US leader of worsening the situation with his rhetoric.

    « 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, » Portland police said in a statement.

    Oregon Live reported that « camouflage gear » with « thin blue line patches » was seen next to the body – a common sign of support for the police.

    Another image shows police trying to restrain a man who was apparently with the person who was shot.

    Police have not identified the dead man or specified whether the shooting was directly linked to the clashes which broke out elsewhere in the city.

    The founder of the far-right group Patriot Prayer identified the victim as Aaron « Jay » Danielson, adding that he was « a good friend and a supporter », the Associated Press news agency reports.

    Tension rose after a convoy of some 600 vehicles flying flags and carrying an estimated 1,000 Trump backers gathered at a mall in Clackamas county on the outskirts before entering Portland’s downtown.

    The continuing violence on US streets brings into focus the evolving tone of Donald Trump’s election campaign – criticising cities run by Democrats, where much of the trouble has occurred, and framing himself as the law and order president.

    Portland has been the epicentre of Black Lives Matter protests ever since the police killing of George Floyd, but the convergence of pro-Trump supporters, in large numbers, with anti-racism demonstrators marks a volatile escalation.

    Tweeting « LAW & ORDER!!! » hours after the latest disturbances, Mr Trump makes it clear that the issue will dominate his appeal to the American people for a second term in office.

    This could be a pivotal week. On Tuesday the president will head to Kenosha, in the political swing state of Wisconsin, where violent protests followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake. The stated reason is for Mr Trump to meet local police and « survey damage from recent riots ».

    Many Americans will be watching to see if the president also reaches out to Mr Blake and his family and for any expressions of empathy for those who’re angry about police brutality.

    A man was shot dead in the city on Saturday, which has seen weeks of demonstrations.


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