Donald Trump accused of creating 'division' by Democrats after Portland shooting

31 August 2020, 10:33

Protests in Portland have turned violent
Protests in Portland have turned violent. Picture: Getty

By Kate Buck

Donald Trump has been accused by Democrats of inflaming "hate and division" after a man was fatally shot at a protest in Portland, Oregon.

Saturday night saw supporters of the US President and Black Lives Matter protesters clash in the downtown area of the city.

It was not clear if the shooting was linked to fights that broke out as a caravan of about 600 vehicles was confronted by counter-demonstrators in the city centre.

Police said the caravan had left the area at around 8.30pm local time on Saturday, and officers heard gunshots at about 8.46pm.

The victim was later identified as a supporter of a far-right group, whose members have frequently clashed with protesters in Portland in the past, the group's founder said on Sunday.

He identified the victim as Aaron 'Jay' Danielson and called him a "good friend," but provided no details.

In the wake of the shooting, Trump unleashed a flurry of tweets praising the caravan participants as "GREAT PATRIOTS!" and retweeted what appeared to be the dead man's name along with a message to "Rest in peace", as well as retweeting those who blamed the city's Democratic mayor for the death.

Mr Trump wrote: "The people of Portland, like all other cities & parts of our great Country, want Law & Order.

"The Radical Left Democrat Mayors, like the dummy running Portland, or the guy right now in his basement unwilling to lead or even speak out against crime, will never be able to do it!"

But Democrats have blamed Trump for the tensions.

A man was fatally shot
A man was fatally shot. Picture: Getty

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said: "Do you seriously wonder, Mr President, why this is the first time in decades that America has seen this level of violence?" he asked at a televised news conference.

"It's you who have created the hate and the division."

Trump has sought to cast cities as under siege by violence and lawlessness, despite the fact that most of the demonstrations against racial injustice have been largely peaceful.

With about nine weeks until Election Day, some of his advisers see an aggressive law and order message as the best way for the president to turn voters against his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, and regain the support of suburban voters.