Portland: Trump supporter shot dead in clash with BLM protesters

Over the weekend, a fatal encounter between counter-protesters and BLM supporters in Portland left one man dead as political tensions in America continue to heighten.

America is in a period of civil unrest. Since the killing of unarmed African American George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in May of this year, Portland, Oregon, alongside other major US cities like Atlanta, Seattle, and Washington have experienced hostile nightly protests in defiance of racism and police brutality in America.

Over the weekend, the three-month-long protests in Portland saw fatal retaliation from far-right Trump supporters, resulting in the death of a pro-police counter-protester.

Portland political unrest
Image: New York Times

Political hostility in America is reaching a disquieting peak amidst a historical re-election campaign which has seen President Trump diverge from traditional political lobbying. Practically ignoring the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Trump has harnessed the fearmongering fake news of far-right conspiracy alcoves to tear down his opponents. Republican vs. Democratic tensions in the United States seem to be splitting America in a way we haven’t seen in modern history.

Portland is a particularly noteworthy point of this political division. The ongoing antagonism between anti-Trump, anti-police protesters and their opponents has been mounting. Demonstrations in Portland have seen months of the masses shattering window-fronts, igniting fires, and hurling fireworks at law enforcement across the city. The New York Times has reported that over the period, conflicts have swelled from mere shouting to brawls and riots in downtown Portland streets.

President Trump has yet to ease tensions in the region, instead using the unrest in Portland as proof of an increased need for harsher law and order responses.

On Saturday night, a fatal counter-response to the Black Lives Matter protests saw a caravan of Trump supporters travel through the city flying “Trump 2020” flags as well as blue-lives-matter flags (identifiable by their thin blue lines), symbolising resistance to the Black Lives Matter movement.

The two movements clashed in the city centre of Portland; the Pro-Trump side reportedly attacked protesters from the backs of pick-up trucks with paintball guns. The reaction from the protesters was equally as hostile, throwing objects from the street at the vehicles. The conflict escalated from pitching objects to fistfights in the streets, resulting in the death of an anti-protester.

A video circulating on Twitter captured the entirety of the event. The clip shows a small group in a dimly lit Portland backstreet; when gunfire erupts, a man collapses with a gunshot wound to the chest.

The man has been identified as Jay Bishop, a member of Patriot Prayer, a far-right Portland association that it says seeks to combat “corruption, big government and tyranny, using God for strength and the power of love,” according to its 40,0000 follower Facebook page.

The gunman is yet to be identified, but police officials have concluded an investigation of the crime scene and are currently asking for witnesses or those with alternative videos to contact detectives.

Trump went onto Twitter to pay his respects for the death of Jay, retweeting that “He was a good American that loved his country and Backed the Blue,” also that his death was a result of ANTIFA – that is, the far-radical-left.

This all follows the brutal police shooting of black man Jacob Blake in Wisconsin just over a week ago, which re-ignited Black Lives Matter movements across the country. Trump has yet to comment publicly on his death.

The protests in Portland, despite the death of Jay Bishop, are still ongoing. According to the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, officials are still attempting to subdue conflicts by employing further federal law enforcement, despite tensions often being heightened by increased police presence.

Local officials have made calls for President Trump to acknowledge this unrest, and instead of threatening an increase in law enforcement or weaponising the conflicts to further his re-election campaign, to disseminate messages of unity between American people.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler tweeted on the weekend,  “We need to reset. The president needs to reset. I need to reset. This community needs to reset. And America needs to reset,” the mayor went onto say “It’s going to take his leadership in the White House. And it’s going to take my leadership here in City Hall.”

With Americans dying as a result of the increasing chasm between Republican and Democrat, black and white, and state and federal leadership, mayor Wheeler tweeted a message for Donald Trump: “It’s you who have created the hate.”

President Trump responded to the mayor’s remarks on Twitter, denoting him as “whacky” and a “fool.”

The US election is set for November 3rd, with polls indicating Democratic representative Biden is currently in the lead and set to take the White House next term.

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