Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler publicly refused federal aid from President Donald Trump to stop rioting in his city and alleged that the president is responsible for the shooting of a right-wing protester in Portland on Saturday night.
“It’s you who have created the hate and division,” Wheeler said. “What America needs is for you to be stopped,” he added.
The mayor has come under increasing pressure to bring in federal resources after more than 90 straight nights of demonstrations, arson incidents, looting, and unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
Wheeler then said Trump needs to say the names of Floyd and other black people who have died in officer-involved incidents in recent months.
Trump immediately responded to Wheeler on Twitter, saying that he is a “wacky Radical Left” mayor “who has watched great death and destruction of his City during his tenure,” adding that Wheeler thinks “this lawless situation should go on forever.”
Wheeler is now facing calls to resign from his office, namely from progressive and far-left political organizations. However, they asserted that it was the pro-Trump protesters who were responsible for the violence, despite there being months of unrest in the city at the hands of self-described left-wing agitators.
“The lack of leadership that has existed with the city and the mayor’s office has allowed this to fester and allowed these groups to be able to come in and feel like they can do whatever they want,” said Bobbin Singh, executive director of the Oregon Justice Resource Center.
Earlier this summer, Trump deployed federal agents to Portland after agitators and protesters laid siege to a federal courthouse. However, he was decried by both Wheeler and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat.
On Saturday, it wasn’t clear if the shooting was linked to fights that broke out as a caravan of about 600 vehicles was confronted by protesters in the city’s downtown. An Associated Press freelance photographer heard three gunshots and then observed police medics working on the body of the victim, who appeared to be a white man. The freelancer said the man was wearing a hat bearing the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group that supports Trump.
Police did not release any additional details and were at the scene investigating late Saturday.
“Portland Police officers heard sounds of gunfire from the area of Southeast 3rd Avenue and Southwest Alder Street. They responded and located a victim with a gunshot wound to the chest. Medical responded and determined that the victim was deceased,” the Portland Police Bureau said in a statement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.