President Donald Trump praised a pro-Trump caravan of activists who moved into Portland, Oregon, on Saturday and whose presence there appeared to contribute to violent clashes in the city.
The day after a man was shot and killed amid confrontations between Black Lives Matter protesters and Trump supporters in Portland, he assailed only the anti-racism demonstrators.
In a tweet, Trump shared a video of the pro-Trump caravan driving into Portland and labeled them “GREAT PATRIOTS!” In another tweet, he referred to protesters in Washington, D.C., as “Disgraceful Anarchists” and said, “We are watching them closely.”
“The big backlash going on in Portland cannot be unexpected after 95 days of watching and incompetent Mayor admit that he has no idea what he is doing,” Trump said in one Twitter post. “The people of Portland won’t put up with no safety any longer. The Mayor is a FOOL. Bring in the National Guard!”
Trump’s tweets, of which there were dozens, came as Portland police investigate the shooting death of a man amid clashes between those who participated in a pro-Trump vehicle rally and counter-protesters. A picture from the scene published by Getty Images showed the victim wearing a hat with a Patriot Prayer logo. The Portland-area group has previously clashed with protesters and is described as far-right by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
It was not immediately clear if the shooting was connected to the protests.
Video from the scene showed protesters hurling projectiles like water bottles at the Trump caravan. Trump supporters sprayed protesters with paintballs and what appeared to be pepper spray. Multiple fights between the groups were seen breaking out through the night. Footage also showed lifted four-wheel-drive trucks driving through downtown Portland intersections filled with protesters.
Saturday’s clashes came days after Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, on Tuesday allegedly opened fire during a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, killing two people. Protests in Kenosha have followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, that was captured on video.
Rittenhouse was later arrested and charged with two counts of homicide among other charges in connection to that shooting. On Sunday, Trump liked a post promoting a thread from a Twitter user explaining why “Kyle Rittenhouse is a good example of why I decided to vote for Trump.”
Speaking with NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows continued to pin violent episodes on “Democrat cities” — continuing a theme from Trump’s convention that wrapped last week. Repeatedly, convention speakers claimed that people “would not be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”
“You know, you want to talk about Donald Trump’s America. Most of Donald Trump’s America is peaceful,” Meadows said. “It is a Democrat-led city in Portland that we’re talking about this morning who just yesterday denied help once again from the federal government.”
The Trump campaign released a statement on Sunday parroting the president’s tweet and lamenting what they described as “left-wing mob violence.”
“It’s obvious that law-abiding Americans will be on their own if Biden and his allies are elected in November,” said Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh. “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”
Ahead of Trump’s convention speech last week, 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden blasted Trump as “rooting for more violence, not less,” because he sees it as a political benefit. His remarks followed comments from departing White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, who told Fox News, “the more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety.”
Asked about Conway’s remark in an interview with Fox News Sunday, Lara Trump, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign and the president’s daughter-in-law, said recent violence “certainly paints a very clear picture” that might make some potential Biden voters think twice.
In an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said, “We are not safe in Donald Trump’s America.”
“This isn’t just happening in one place. It’s happening all over the country. It is happening under Donald Trump’s watch,” Klobuchar said, adding, that increases in crime are coupled with “over 180,000 people that died from this coronavirus.”
The White House said Saturday that Trump would visit Kenosha on Tuesday. On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., said his appearance would merely serve “to agitate things and to make things worse.”
Asked about the violence in an interview with “This Week,” acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said his department is “happy to provide resources to bring this violence to an end, violence that, again, across the ideological spectrum, left or right, the violence needs to end.”
In his tweets, Trump repeatedly assailed Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat who the president blamed for violent outbreaks.
“Tone down the language, but TRUE!” Trump tweeted in response to a Twitter user who compared Wheeler to a “useless f—— idiot.”
Portland has a focal point of Trump’s response to nationwide protests beginning in late May after the death George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis police custody. The Trump administration deployed federal law enforcement to Minneapolis in July to guard federal property.
Wheeler and other Democratic leaders in Oregon have condemned the Trump administration’s response, saying that it has inflamed tensions.
Democrats on Sunday condemned the violence and pointed to Trump as the force behind such behavior. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., told “Meet the Press” that those causing violence “are not peaceful protesters,” adding that Trump is doing nothing to address the broader law enforcement issues.
“It’s not about law enforcement or protesters, it’s about making sure that police are held accountable when they violate people’s constitutional rights, when they shoot unarmed Black people,” Richmond, a co-chair of the Biden campaign, said. “And if the president could convene that conversation, then I think that we would be in a better space. And so he keeps talking about what Biden’s America would look like, well this is Trump’s America.”