Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler had a strong message for President Donald Trump after a man was shot and killed in Portland amid clashes between Black Lives Matter protesters and a pro-Trump caravan on Saturday,
“Do you seriously wonder, Mr. President, why this is the first time in decades that America has seen this level of violence?” Wheeler said at a news conference on Sunday. “It’s you who have created the hate and the division.”
The fatal shooting ended a day of clashes between a pro-Trump caravan and counterprotesters. On Sunday, Trump criticized the mayor and praised the caravan, calling its members “GREAT PATRIOTS” on Twitter.
Wheeler lashed out at Trump for his rhetoric, saying the caravan was “supported and energized by the president himself.”
“I’d appreciate that the president either supports us or he stays the hell out of the way,” Wheeler said.
Portland police said the group, made up of hundreds of cars and trucks, traveled for several hours throughout the city. It was organized by supporters of Trump in an apparent show of force and an attempt to counter the Black Lives Matter protests that have been ongoing in Oregon’s biggest city for months.
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell also said on Sunday that there were some skirmishes between rally goers and counter demonstrators and that police made several arrests.
Police said it is unclear if the shooting was connected to the protests. They are still piecing together what happened, but Lovell said the vehicle caravan had already cleared the area when the shooting took place.
Lovell said he didn’t know if the shooting was politically motivated.
Portland has seen sustained protests since the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis in May.
During a wave of Black Lives Matter protests that have swept the country since Floyd’s death, Trump has attacked Democratically controlled cities and their leaders.
Wheeler, who is also Portland’s police commissioner, has also been criticized by demonstrators for his leadership of the city’s law enforcement.
Trump called Portland “a mess” in a tweet Monday morning.
“If this joke of a mayor doesn’t clean it up, we will go in and do it for them!” he added.
The president had earlier called for federal law enforcement to be sent to Portland to restore order, but Wheeler has publicly declined that offer.
On Sunday, he denounced the violence, saying “the tragedy of last night cannot be repeated” and calling on Portlanders to “pull together.”
Wheeler has also asked anyone planning to come to Portland “to seek retribution” to stay out of the city and help authorities deescalate the situation.
Saturday’s clashes came days after Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, was accused of having opened fire Tuesday during a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, killing two people. Demonstrators in Kenosha were protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, which was captured on video.
Trump is expected to visit Kenosha on Tuesday.