It was only a few hours after I wrote on Saturday that violence was spiraling out of control and both sides were escalating the situation that a Trump supporter was killed in Portland by leftist rioters. The murder was live-streamed as a convoy of Trump supporters in cars drove through the city, which has been rocked by BLM and Antifa violence for months.
The Post Millennial, a Canadian outlet, the New York Times, and CNN have some of the most detailed information on the shooting, but police have released few details even a day later. The confrontation began with a “Trump 2020 Cruise Rally in Portland” that began in Clackamas. Police tried to prevent the Trump-supporters from going downtown, but some vehicles did so anyway. Shortly after, confrontations were sparked between the pro-Trump group and leftists in the downtown area.
Videos of the rally, including one retweeted by President Trump, show trucks flying Trump flags with people in the back, some wearing body armor and gas masks, shooting paintballs and what appears to be pepper spray at pedestrians. Demonstrators on the street hurl insults and burn Trump flags.
It was in this environment that a prominent member of Patriot Prayer, an Oregon pro-Trump group, was killed. The name of the victim has not been released and police reportedly have no suspects. The murder was caught on camera and tweeted by Andy Ngo.
The video shows a quieter street than the scene that Trump retweeted. Someone yells what sounds like, “We’ve got a Trumper over here” and then there are two gunshots. A pedestrian staggers a few steps and then falls to the street. Two assailants run away as a crowd gathers over the fallen man. In the jumble of voices, someone yells, “We are trying to help you” amid cursing.
In a subsequent tweeted video, an unidentified speaker says over a loudspeaker, “I just got word that the person who died was a Patriot Prayer person. He was a f-ing Nazi. Our community held its own and took out the trash. I’m not going to shed any tears over a Nazi.”
While reprehensible, these comments are strikingly similar to the response to the shooting in Kenosha last week. Many on the right celebrated the deaths of two men who were assumed to be criminals and communists. A great many grassroots voices celebrated Kyle Rittenhouse in terms that sounded a lot like the mirror image of the Portland woman’s speech.
None of these killings should have happened. As I discussed last week in my article on Kyle Rittenhouse, there was a chain of events that led to the Kenosha shootings and plenty of blame to go around on both sides. Even worse, politicians on both sides are pouring fuel on the fire with their rhetoric.
As I pointed out over the weekend, violence begets violence. This most recent murder will spark retaliation by Trump supporters. That retaliation will mean that the leftists will require an eye-for-eye. The deteriorating situation means that America could be on the brink of widespread political violence or a civil war.
Rioting is wrong. So is taking the law into your own hands. So is shooting paintballs and pepper spray at pedestrians. As my parents taught me decades ago, two wrongs don’t make a right. The prescription for illegal activity is not more illegal activity.
The country desperately needs state and local governments to rein in the violence. On both sides. Both the rioters and vigilantes need to go home or go to jail. The provocations have to end for the good of the country.
Joe Biden has issued a strong statement, saying, “The deadly violence we saw overnight in Portland is unacceptable. Shooting in the streets of a great American city is unacceptable. I condemn this violence unequivocally. I condemn violence of every kind by anyone, whether on the left or the right.”
More elected officials should follow suit. We need statesmen who will put country over party, stand up, and hold everyone accountable rather than pointing fingers at the other side and justifying their own side’s excesses. A joint statement by Donald Trump and Joe Biden condemning violence and calling for calm might go a long way.
That approach would require a consistent message from both sides, however. Too many on both sides are still stuck on stupid and rationalizing why only the other side is to blame. That means the violence will continue.
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