Portland clashes: Fatal shooting as rival groups protest

Medics try to save the life of a man who was shot and later died during clashes in Portland, Oregon, 29 August 2020
Image captionMedics at the scene fought to save the man’s life

One person has been shot dead in Oregon as a large procession of supporters of President Trump clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters in Portland.

Images from the scene showed medics trying to save what appeared to be a white man.

Police have not given an identity or specified whether the shooting was directly linked to the clashes which broke out in a downtown area.

Portland’s streets have been the scene of frequent protests in recent weeks.

The city has become a focus for demonstrations against police brutality and racism since the police killing of African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May triggered a wave of national and international outrage.

Federal forces were sent by President Trump to Portland in July in what was described as a move to prevent violence.

What is known about the shooting?

The latest pro-Trump rally was on the third Saturday in a row.

In a statement on Saturday evening, Portland police said: “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.”

Oregon Live reported that “camouflage gear” with “thin blue line patches” was seen next to the body – a common sign of support for the police.

The man was wearing a hat linked to far-right group Patriot Prayer, the New York Times reports.

Another image shows police trying to restrain a man who was apparently with the person who was shot.

Police restraining a man during the Portland clashes
Image captionPolice restraining a man during the Portland clashes

What was the background to the shooting?

The shooting came amid fights between the Trump supporters and BLM protesters in the city centre.

Tension rose after a convoy of some 600 vehicles flying flags and carrying an estimated 1,000 Trump backers gathered at a mall in Clackamas county on the outskirts before entering Portland’s downtown.

Video showed some people firing what local media described as pepper spray and pellets at BLM groups who had tried to prevent them entering the city by blocking streets.

Police reported “some instances of violence” between “demonstrators and counter-demonstrators” and said some arrests had been made.

Pro-Trump procession in Portland, 29 August 2020
Image captionThe day began with a caravan of Trump supporters converging on Portland

The violence followed last week’s Republican convention which formally anointed Mr Trump as the party’s presidential candidate.

Accepting the nomination in a speech on the White House lawn, he sought to characterise Portland as another Democratic-run city prey to “rioting, looting, arson, and violence”.

The clashes also come in the wake of the shooting by police of a black man in Wisconsin. Jacob Blake was seriously wounded last week after he was shot in the back seven times by an officer in Kenosha as he was getting into a car.

President Trump has said he will visit Kenosha, which has seen widespread violence.

Media captionJacob Blake’s father: “We’re going to stand up”

Why is Portland a flashpoint?

Some protests in Portland over George Floyd’s death have been marred by violence, arson, damage to property, arrests and allegations of police brutality.

In July, federal officers drew strong criticism for cracking down on crowds – against the wishes of the local authorities – who had gathered in the city. Federal officers in unmarked vehicles appeared to forcefully seize protesters from the streets and detain them without justification.

The Trump administration described the protesters as a violent mob, but city officials drew a distinction between peaceful demonstrators and smaller groups bent on making trouble.

Portland has also seen violence between far-right groups, such as Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer, and left-wing counter-demonstrators known as antifa, or anti-fascist movement.

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