As social justice activists prepared Saturday for the 100th consecutive day of protests in Portland, Ore., the leader of a far-right organization called on the city’s mayor to apologize for “a culture of lawlessness” that he said resulted in the death of one of his followers last weekend.
Joey Gibson, founder of Patriot Prayer, a local group considered an extremist organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center, spoke at a memorial gathering just north of Portland in Vancouver, Wash., for Aaron “Jay” Danielson, who died in a shooting Aug. 29. Gibson also called on Oregon’s governor to apologize for calling Danielson a white supremacist. The 39-year-old was allegedly shot by a self-described antifascist, Michael Forest Reinoehl, who had been providing security for protesters who have gathered nightly since the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.
Reinoehl, who had a Black Lives Matter raised-fist tattoo on his neck, died Thursday in a hail of gunfire as members of a federal fugitive task force confronted him in Lacey, Wash. Court documents seeking his arrest described both Danielson and Reinoehl as carrying firearms at the time of the street shooting.
Gibson spoke Saturday as activists prepared for their nightly rally and march. Members of Black Lives Matter and other groups demand deep cuts or dissolution of the Portland Police Bureau; the City Council has trimmed the budget and instituted limited reforms.
Months of clashes between protesters and police — and for a time, federal agents blamed by city and state officials for making the violence worse — have outraged President Trump and his followers who say Portland has descended into anarchy. Trump supporters organized a caravan of trucks Aug. 29, some of which drove into the city, their occupants firing paintballs and mace at left-wing protesters who threw objects back at them and tried to block vehicles.
The shooting took place on a largely quiet street in the wake of the protest and counter-protest.
Gibson told more than 300 people, some standing by with assault rifles, who gathered at the memorial beneath tall cedars in a Vancouver city park that he didn’t want to see anyone commit violence in retribution for Danielson’s death.
But Gibson had blunt words regarding Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, both Democrats,
“Because of his policies, Jay was murdered,” he said of Wheeler, adding that city leaders had failed to crack down on protesters. “He’s built a city of lawlessness, they’ve built a culture of lawlessness, they’ve allowed them to get away with whatever they want.”
He said of Brown: “The way that she talked about Jay is a million times harder than anything that she ever said about the people rioting in Portland every single day.”
Asked for a response, Tim Becker, a spokesman for Wheeler, said in a statement that “lawlessness has never been acceptable in our city. We cannot truly move on together and make the positive changes we want to see until the violence is stopped.”
In a statement Friday, Brown called for an end to the violence in Portland. “The only way through this is if we all work together,” she said.