City girds for 'retribution' after shooting of protester on Saturday
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said forces on the right could be heading back into Portland tonight, Aug. 30, or in coming days to seek "retribution" for the man shot and killed during Saturday's protest.
And Portland Police Chief Chuck Lowell, when asked if the violence could turn into an open firefight on the streets of Portland, offered this dire response: "I hope it doesn't come to that. We have a finite resource of officers."
Both spoke at a Sunday press conference at City Hall, along with Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt. The press conference followed a rolling series of skirmishes between groups on the right and the left that ended in the shooting death of a protester Saturday evening, Aug. 29. Some of those on the right claimed to be supporters of Donald Trump and supporters of police. The protest and counter-protest began at Clackamas Town Center, then roved over highways and streets to downtown.
Sunday's press conference also bizarrely turned into live-time bickering between Mayor Wheeler and President Trump. The president tweeted his reaction to the mayor's comments, a CNN reporter read them aloud, and Wheeler fired back.
Both Wheeler and Chief Lovell said they are preparing for further violence, having heard social media buzz that those on the right may seek "retribution."
Wheeler said people on the right and left all enjoy free speech rights, but added, "We're asking you to stay away and work with us to de-escalate this situation."
Lovell and D.A. Schmidt said an investigation into the shooting is ongoing; any details people have read on social media are likely false.
When asked if Portland Police will need back-up by the National Guard, Lovell responded, "It may get to that point."
Schmidt blamed some of Saturday's violence on outsiders. "Our community is being terrorized by people coming into Portland for the explicit purpose of committing violence. And that is not acceptable," he said.
Neither the chief nor Wheeler — who acts as Portland police commissioner — were forthcoming about how they are preparing for further violence tonight or in coming days. Lovell said he had not yet had a conversation with his command staff regarding what's next.
And Wheeler said he will continue attempt to create coalitions within the city to address the city's 90-plus nights of violence, vandalism and arson. "I'll continue to reach out to whomever wants to work with me and my colleagues," he said. "This is an all-hands-on-deck call."
Schmidt, addressing the three months of protests, said most have been peaceful and about systemic racism. But those protests have been undercut by violent acts. "The violence that is occurring in our city needs to stop," he said.
Sunday's press conference began with Wheeler laying much of the blame for Saturday's violence on President Trump. "It's you who created the hate and division," he said.
That prompted an almost-immediate tweet from the president, in which he indicated that federal troops could be returning to Portland streets.
The nightly violence grew worse in July when federal authorities — often without agency insignia — mixed with protesters near the federal courthouse. Gov. Kate Brown eventually brokered a deal to get the feds to leave.
Trump on Sunday tweeted that Wheeler "would like to blame me and the Federal Government for going in, but he hasn't seen anything yet. We have only been there with a small group to defend out U.S. Courthouse, because he couldn't do it."
Wheeler volleyed back and told Trump to stay away from Portland. And he offered — if mockingly — to work with the president to end the violence.
"Wouldn't that be a message?" Wheeler said. "Donald Trump and Ted Wheeler working together to help move this country forward. Why don't we try that?"
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