One dead in Portland as Patriot Prayer meets BLM

Yesterday, John gave us the usual roundup of the riotous action on Friday night in Portland, Oregon, replete with people chaining themselves together inside of Mayor Ted Wheeler’s condominium complex. There were plenty of tense moments, but nothing that approached what happened last night. A caravan of vehicles, at least some of which were occupied by members of the Proud Boys, arrived in the city and proceeded to drive through the center of town. They were flying flags of all sorts, ranging from the Stars and Stripes to Thin Blue Line banners, along with some specifically supporting President Trump.

As you might imagine, this enraged many of the “protesters” out in the streets calling for the abolition of the police and tempers soon began to flare. Later last night, however, insults and shoving matches eventually gave way to gunfire. When the smoke cleared, one person lay dead on the street. Early reports indicate that he was a member of the caravan and was wearing a Proud Boys cap. As of this morning, law enforcement is still sorting through all of the video, testimony, and evidence in an attempt to piece together what happened. (USA Today)

One person was shot and killed late Saturday in Portland, Oregon, as a large caravan of President Donald Trump supporters and Black Lives Matter protesters clashed in the streets, police said.

It wasn’t clear if the shooting was linked to fights that broke out as a caravan of about 600 vehicles was confronted by protesters in the city’s downtown.

An Associated Press freelance photographer heard three gunshots and then observed police medics working on the body of the victim, who appeared to be a white man. The freelancer said the man was wearing a hat bearing the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group whose members have frequently clashed with protesters in Portland in the past.

Because of the ongoing national focus on the riots and violence in Portland, there were people filming everything that was happening and posting it to social media. Somebody caught the shooting on video but the quality is too low to make out many details. (Obvious disturbing content warning)

Before the shooting, there were multiple instances of BLM “protesters” attempting to physically attack the caravan vehicles as they passed. Some of those incidents were also captured on video. In this clip, one pedestrian pulls a gun, but is encouraged by his friend to put it away, apparently realizing somebody was filming them.

I’ve already seen numerous comments in those Twitter threads blaming the Proud Boys for this result, implying that they should have known that their mere presence in the downtown area would inflame the tension levels already gripping the streets. And, of course, they’re finding a way to blame the Bad Orange Man for this death.

So somebody guns down one of the Proud Boys and the response is to say that they shouldn’t have been out on the public streets? What kind of answer is that? If your argument in favor of these riots is that it’s patriotic for people to go out and express themselves in public and air grievances against the government, how do you justify telling people wishing to express alternate opinions to stay home? The inconsistency inherent in that argument makes it not even worth debating.

Now, in the interest of fairness, we should note that the pro-Trump groups driving through the city with all of those banners obviously knew they were going to provoke a response. They allegedly came armed with paintball guns and pepper spray (at a minimum) so they were clearly and logically expecting at least the possibility of conflict. And given the track record of the mob filling up the streets of Portland for these past few months, it would have been foolish to not expect that.

But does that mean that the situation was eventually going to result in open gunfire between the two sides? I would argue that it does. Last night’s victim wasn’t the first to die during this conflict, but it was clearly one of the most blatant examples of this situation devolving into open warfare. We’ve all seen it coming, and it’s now at our doorstep. In any “normal” city where the rule of law was still being enforced, a group of citizens marching with banners and chanting messages related to their grievances would be completely normal. The same goes for another group wishing to drive a motorcade through town with banners conveying their message, though a permit would probably be required for either type of demonstration.

But Portland hasn’t come within spitting distance of being “normal” for months now. Mayor Wheeler signaled weakness from the beginning and the mob can sense weakness like a shark smells blood in the water. As soon as we reached the point where portions of the city essentially became “no-go zones” for law enforcement and they were forced to establish defensive positions around various government buildings, all bets were off. At that point, the normal rules of order were bent, if not broken. And last night was the culmination of that process. I will frankly be shocked if this is the last of these deaths we hear about in Portland.

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