Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has called violence at protests in Portland, Oregon unacceptable and challenged United States President Donald Trump to stop “recklessly encouraging” it, after one person was killed on Saturday during clashes between rival groups.
Demonstrations against racism and police brutality have swept the US since the May 25 death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Protests have roiled downtown Portland every night for more than three months following Floyd’s death, and police there said they had made arrests after one person was killed on Saturday night.
“I condemn violence of every kind by anyone, whether on the left or the right. And I challenge Donald Trump to do the same,” Biden said in a statement, adding that “we must not become a country at war with ourselves.”
“What does President Trump think will happen when he continues to insist on fanning the flames of hate and division in our society and using the politics of fear to whip up his supporters? He is recklessly encouraging violence,” the former vice president added.
Early on Sunday, Trump issued a flurry of tweets and retweets including several that blamed Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler for the death and one in which the president appeared to be encouraging his supporters to move into Portland.
“GREAT PATRIOTS!” Trump wrote as he shared video of his supporters driving into Portland to confront the protesters.
In a later tweet, he appeared to blame Wheeler for the “death and destruction of his city”.
Republicans deny Trump is seeking to exacerbate violence with incendiary rhetoric, saying he wants to restore law and order, and accusing Democratic mayors and state governors of losing control of cities rocked by demonstrations that have seen outbreaks of violence, arson and vandalism.
Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Trump’s campaign, said on Twitter that Biden had “sat idly by for months, refusing to condemn violence and chaos from his allies in Democrat-run cities.”
Rival groups clash
On Saturday, fights broke out as a caravan of about 600 vehicles was confronted by protesters in the city’s downtown area.
“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.