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Oregon Leaders Condemn Acts Of Violence Ahead Of Labor Day Weekend Protests

Trump guy punches protester - Levinson OPB.jpg
Jonathan Levinson
A Trump cruise rally demonstrator punches another person as the caravan moves through downtown Portland, Ore., Aug. 30, 2020.

As demonstrations in Portland against police brutality and systemic racism approach their 100th consecutive day Saturday, local and state leaders are preparing for potential violence over the coming weekend.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown Thursday, along with Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, Senate President Peter Courtney, state representatives, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and a variety of Oregon organizations, released a statement condemning violent acts during protests.

“We are coming together to condemn the acts of violence in Portland that have occurred as thousands of Oregonians have been peacefully protesting …” the statement reads. “The violence must stop. There is no place for white supremacy or vigilantism in Oregon. All who perpetrate violent crimes must be held equally accountable.

“Together, we are committing ourselves to do the hard work that will bring meaningful change for racial justice and police reform.”

Brown outlined how she and others are working toward that change including passing bills for police accountability, creating a community forum that will start meeting “in the coming days,” and creating a unified law enforcement plan. Though, many partners included in that plan have declined involvement.

Last week, a man named Aaron “Jay” Danielson was shot and killed during a pro-Trump car caravan that drove through Portland. Danielson was a supporter of Patriot Prayer, a group that has attended, hosted and engaged in violence at Portland protests in the past. That shooting has served as a flashpoint for national conversation around violent protests in the city.

Michael Reinoehl, a suspect in the shooting, was shot and killed by law enforcement Thursday night in Lacey, Washington. Just hours earlier, VICE News released an interview with Reinoehl in which he took responsibility for shooting Danielson in what he said was an act of self-defense.

Brown said Friday she does not have further information available on Reinoehl’s death.

Portland Mayor Wheeler addressed the upcoming weekend’s protests at a downtown Portland event Thursday morning.

“It’s Labor Day weekend. There are a lot of families here. There are kids here,” Wheeler said. “People are going about their Labor Day weekend the way people do, and what we do not need is groups confronting each other on the streets violently.”

He said the city will be prepared for the weekend’s demonstrations, including separating groups that may come to the city for protests and counterprotests.

“We are working with both our local law enforcement partners and state law enforcement partners. We will keep separation, as much as we’re able to keep separation, and if people are engaged in criminal activity, we’ll do our best to hold them accountable,” Wheeler said.

A pro-Trump caravan winds its way through downtown Portland, Ore., clashing with counterprotesters on Aug. 30, 2020. Some in the caravan used cars to drive through crowds of people and others shot paintball guns and mace from truck beds.
Jonathan Levinson /
A pro-Trump caravan winds its way through downtown Portland, Ore., clashing with counterprotesters on Aug. 30, 2020. Some in the caravan used cars to drive through crowds of people and others shot paintball guns and mace from truck beds.

There are multiple events already planned over the Labor Day weekend, in addition to the regular demonstrations that have taken place downtown and in other parts of Portland.

In Vancouver, there’s a planned memorial for Danielson — the victim in last week’s shooting — at Esther Short Park. Vancouver police are planning to be present at the event, but spokeswoman Kim Kapp did not specify what specific plans the department has.

Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson told OPB the memorial event will include prayer, speeches from a handful of individuals who knew Danielson and a band.

“We’re going to try really hard to keep it positive,” Gibson said.

In asked whether Reinoehl’s death has changed anything, Gibson replied: “No, it doesn’t change anything.”

In Portland, tensions between protesters and police are expected to escalate as protests reach the 100-day mark Friday.

On Monday, an “ Oregon For Trump 2020 Labor Day Cruise Rally” is expected to drive through the city again.

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Meerah Powell is a general assignment and breaking news reporter for OPB. She previously worked as a news reporter and podcast producer for Eugene Weekly in her hometown of Eugene, Oregon. Along with writing and audio work, Meerah also has experience with photography and videography. She graduated from the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication.
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