1 Man Shot And Killed During Gathering Of Trump Supporters In Portland
DEBBIE ELLIOTT, HOST:
In Portland, Ore., there have been nightly demonstrations since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis police custody back in May. Last night, a caravan of cars, many flying flags in support of President Trump, was making its way through city streets when there was gunfire, and one man was killed. We have reporter Jonathan Levinson of Oregon Public Broadcasting on the line now from Portland.
JONATHAN LEVINSON, BYLINE: Hi. How are you?
ELLIOTT: Good. I know the details are still coming in, but can you just take us through the events as they unfolded last night, as best we know?
LEVINSON: Yes. A few hundred vehicles paraded through downtown Portland yesterday as part of this Trump rally. Vehicles were waving Trump flags and, you know, Gadsden flags, thin blue line American flags. It's important - some context here is that last weekend, a pro-Trump rally in Portland devolved into - I mean, it was hours of violence on the street. Protesters and counterprotesters were shooting paintball guns at each other and spraying each other with mace. And a lot of the pro-Trump protesters were armed, and one of them actually pulled a handgun out on the crowd. So everyone was on edge yesterday from last week. In yesterday's event's Facebook page, attendees were encouraged to concealed carry, so that added to it.
They drove through the city. Local law enforcement agencies along the way into the city were blocking intersections for them. The huge crowd of vehicles, you know, blocked traffic as they drove around downtown for a couple of hours. There were a few fights. Some of the pro-Trump demonstrators were spraying people with mace from the back of their pickup trucks. But compared to previous - the last weekend, it was actually considerably more peaceful until, around 8:45, a protester was shot downtown, and we soon learned that he didn't survive.
ELLIOTT: What do we know about the man who was killed?
LEVINSON: Well, we don't know much at all. Portland police secured the entire block as a crime scene. In a press release, they said they wouldn't be releasing, you know, information on the suspect or the victim. They said that no one had been immediately arrested following the shooting. We know from photos that the person who was shot and killed had a thin blue line patch on his shorts, and he was wearing a Patriot Prayer hat. And that's a local right-wing group who often comes into Portland to demonstrate, and they have a reputation for engaging in violence during those protests.
ELLIOTT: Is there any indication of what happened that might have led up to the shooting or where the shot even came from?
LEVINSON: There's not a lot of information. There is a video online. A streamer happened to be broadcasting, and he caught the shooting in the background from about half a block away. You see a car in the street fire two shots at the person, who was standing on the sidewalk. But it's unclear why or what had precipitated the shooting.
ELLIOTT: Any official response from officials there in Portland, briefly?
LEVINSON: Well, it's still early here. You know, Portland has become the president's new favorite focal point, so he tweeted about clueless Democratic leadership, Portland's incompetent mayor. He said the state should send in the National Guard. Last night, in a text message to one of my colleagues, the mayor said that, you know, he's gathering information now, that he'll be transparent with the public and is asking for people to remain calm and not add to this tragedy.
ELLIOTT: Thank you. That's Jonathan Levinson of Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.