Thursday, 1 Oct 2020

Trump attacks ‘incompetent’ Portland mayor as Biden accuses president of stoking ‘war in our streets’

Donald Trump has lashed out at Portland’s “incompetent” mayor as presidential hopeful Joe Biden accused the president of “recklessly encouraging violence” in the city.

A man was killed on Saturday night amid clashes between rival groups in the Oregon city, which has seen months of unrest since the police killing of George Floyd.

Mr Trump tweeted on Sunday: “If the incompetent Mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, doesn’t get control of his city and stop the Anarchists, Agitators, Rioters and Looters, causing great danger to innocent people, we will go in and take care of matters the way they should have been taken care of 100 days ago!”

It came as Mr Biden, his opponent in November’s election, said the president was “fanning the flames of hate and division in our society and using the politics of fear to whip up his supporters”.

Hundreds of people have been arrested in Portland in recent months as some protesters vandalised government buildings and police stations and authorities hit back with tear gas and pepper spray.

On Saturday, around 600 vehicles carrying Trump supporters drove through the city and were confronted by counter protesters.

The founder of right-wing group Patriot Prayer identified the man shot dead as Aaron “Jay” Danielson. Police have released little information and say they are still investigating.

Mr Biden said in a statement that he condemned the violence “unequivocally” and called on Mr Trump to do the same.

“He is recklessly encouraging violence,” said the Democrat challenger.

“He may believe tweeting about law and order makes him strong – but his failure to call on his supporters to stop seeking conflict shows just how weak he is.

“He may think that war in our streets is good for his re-election chances, but that is not presidential leadership – or even basic human compassion.”

Mr Trump is making the issue a key plank of his re-election fight – which polls say he is currently losing – and has seized on protests in cities such as Portland and Kenosha in Wisconsin, where he last week dispatched the National Guard.

He has accused Democrat mayors and governors of being weak on tackling violence and unrest, tweeting on Friday the “Ten Most Dangerous Cities in the U.S. are ALL run by Democrats, and this has gone on for DECADES!”

Portland’s mayor was visibly angry on Sunday as he hit back at the president’s criticism of him.

Addressing him directly through the camera, he said: “That’s classic Trump. Mr President, how can you think that a comment like that, if you’re watching this, is in any way helpful?

“It’s an aggressive stance, it is not collaborative. I certainly reached out, I believe in a collaborative manner, by saying earlier that you need to do your part and I need to do my part and then we both need to be held accountable,” Mr Wheeler said.

The mayor told Mr Trump they should “work together”.

The president is due to visit Kenosha on Tuesday after protests there last week following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man left paralysed after an officer fired on him seven times.

The circumstances leading up to the incident are unclear.

A police union has claimed he had a knife and attacked officers, but family lawyers deny that and say he was only trying to break up a domestic dispute.

Two people were killed in protests in the city on Tuesday and a 17-year-old, Kyle Rittenhouse, has been charged with homicide.

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