Protests in Portland, Oregon, turned deadly over the weekend when a man was shot on the street following a clash between supporters of President Donald Trump and people demonstrating against racial disparities in policing. On Saturday, a group of Trump supporters drove vehicles in a caravan around Portland while flying flags and otherwise expressing their support for the president in the upcoming election. Though the caravan route was meant to bypass downtown Portland, where protests have been ongoing since the killing of George Floyd in late May, some participants departed from the route and drove downtown where conflict broke out. Late in the evening, a member of the caravan, Aaron “Jay” Danielson was fatally shot in the chest by a gunman who has not yet been identified. Keep reading for more on this story and other news.
Portland. Videos from the incident in Portland show angry confrontations between protesters and Trump supporters, with some Trump supporters shooting paintball guns and spraying pepper spray into crowds of protesters and protesters throwing objects back at them. Later in the evening, after most of the caravan had left downtown, a Portland man who has been livestreaming protests in the city, Justin Dunlap, witnessed the shooting and filmed it on his cellphone.
In an interview with The Oregonian, Dunlap said that he saw Danielson surrounded by a cloud of mace with something in his hand and then immediately heard two gunshots and saw Danielson collapse on the street. Danielson’s friend Chandler Pappas was with him when the shooting occurred and gave his account of the incident in an interview that has been posted to YouTube. Pappas said that he and Danielson were targeted with violence because of their affiliation with a group called Patriot Prayer and described the shooting as an execution. Photographs of Pappas and Danielson taken earlier in the day appear to show them with a paintball gun and mace.
Though he has not been charged with a crime or positively identified as the shooter, The Oregonian reports that Michael Forest Reinoehl, who has attended many protests in the city and has identified himself as anti-fascist, is under investigation as the possible perpetrator.
Patriot Prayer. As this report from Reuters indicates, opinions about the ideology of Patriot Prayer are divided, though there is consensus that it is an outspoken conservative activist group. The Reuter’s story says that the group’s leader, Joey Gibson, describes the group as being on “a non-violent mission to prevent the United States from becoming a ‘Godless, socialist’ country” and denies that the group supports white supremacy. In a statement on Sunday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown associated the group with “self-proclaimed militia members” and “armed white supremacists.”
Open Carry. WRAL reports that the Holy Springs Town Council recently had a preliminary vote to approve an ordinance that prohibits openly carrying a firearm on town property. In an interview, Holly Springs Mayor Dick Sears said that residents have expressed strong opinions on both sides of the issue – he jokingly noted that the last issue to generate as much input from residents as the open carry prohibition was the decision about whether to permit backyard chicken coops in the town.
Jail Health Care. An article in the News & Observer this week looks at the decision to renew the contract for the medical provider at the Forsyth County Detention Center following John Neville’s death at the facility late last year. The article says that the company that provides the services, Wellpath, is one of the largest inmate healthcare providers in the country, and Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough told the N&O that the company has been responsive in making changes to its services that make it a good fit for Forsyth County. Kimbrough told The Atlantic last year that when he ran for sheriff in 2018, he had planned to move to another medical services provider but found that there are few companies to choose from. After expressing dissatisfaction to Wellpath leaders and having a county public-health nurse monitor the company’s compliance with the contract, Kimbrough said that the quality of services had improved.
The report notes that former Forsyth County District Attorney Tom Keith filed involuntary manslaughter charges against Correctional Medical Services, the company that previously provided services to the facility, following the death of Clarence Cousins in 1996 but later dismissed the criminal case as part of an agreement that the company pay $200,000 to improve the facility’s medical unit. The article says that it is not entirely clear what the money was used for.