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Police spray pepper-spray into the face of an arrested man at a protest in Portland, Oregon on August 28. (Photo: John Rudoff/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Amid Violence in Portland, Biden and Progressive Critics Blame 'Trump's America' for Chaos

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has consistently called for peaceful protests and condemned violence, but still faces accusations that he's allowed Trump to claim the "law and order" mantle. 

Julia Conley

This is a developing story and may be updated.

One person was shot and killed in Portland, Oregon Saturday night after a caravan of hundreds of vehicles carrying Trump supporters drove into the city center during a demonstration.

The city has been the site of nightly protests over police brutality and the police killings of Black Americans since George Floyd was killed by four Minneapolis officers in May.

The shooting victim was wearing a hat with the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a far-right group that has "has regularly attended, hosted and engaged in violence at Portland protests through the years," according to Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB). 

OPB reported that it was "uncertain whether the shooting is directly connected to the competing protests." 

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden released a statement about the shooting on Sunday, saying:

The deadly violence we saw overnight in Portland is unacceptable. Shooting in the streets of a great American city is unacceptable. I condemn this violence unequivocally. I condemn violence of every kind by anyone, whether on the left or the right. And I challenge Donald Trump to do the same. It does not matter if you find the political views of your opponents abhorrent, any loss of life is a tragedy. Today there is another family grieving in America, and Jill and I offer our deepest condolences.

The shooting came days after Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old who traveled from Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin last week amid protests in the city over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, was charged with the shooting deaths of two demonstrators. Rittenhouse had attended a Trump rally in January.

President Donald Trump focused heavily on the protests in Portland at the Republican National Convention last week, saying in his address on Thursday night that a victory for Biden in the November general election would "make every city look like Democrat-run Portland, Oregon."

"No one will be safe in Biden's America," the president said.

Following the Saturday night shooting, Trump repeated his frequent call for "law and order!" on Twitter.

Rev. William Barber of the Poor People's Campaign responded to the president's tweet, saying Trump's "support for racists and his lack of support for justice are at the center of all we see happening."

The president did not comment publicly on Blake's shooting until Saturday, when he said only that "it was not a good sight," but declined to say whether the office involved should be held accountable. In 2017, he drew outrage when he claimed that there were "very fine people on both sides" of clashes that broke out at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing anti-racist protester Heather Heyer. Since then, he has downplayed police killings of Black Americans and called the Black Lives Matter movement a "symbol of hate" while defending Confederate monuments. 

Political observers over the weekend noted that Biden has been called on in recent days to condemn violence at the protests in Kenosha—and has done so—while the corporate press has shown little interest in pressuring Trump to condemn the shooting of the two protesters last week and the shooting of Blake. 

Trump declined on Saturday to condemn the shooting deaths of the two protesters in Kenosha.

Biden announced Sunday that he plans to again condemn violence and address the "chaos" that has "unfolded on Trump's watch" in a speech on Monday, according to the New York Times. Trump is also expected to travel to Kenosha on Tuesday to meet with law enforcement.

On Friday, the Biden campaign released an ad countering the president's message about a lack of safety in "Biden's America."

Biden highlighted a St. Louis couple who brandished firearms at racial justice protesters this summer and were then invited to speak at the Republican National Convention, a shooting by a white supremacist in a Walmart in El Paso last year, and the Charlottesville rally where white supremacists carried torches and chanted, "Jews will not replace us," only to receive tacit approval from the president. 

"Do you feel safe in Trump's America?" Biden asked viewers. 


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