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1 Fatally Shot As Pro-Trump Ralliers Clash With Protesters

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In Portland, Ore., last night, a man was shot and killed after weeks of unrest in the city. The killing happened downtown after Trump supporters organized a caravan through the streets of the city and were met by demonstrators for racial justice. Oregon Public Broadcasting's Dirk VanderHart is in Portland, where the city's mayor and police chief held a news conference a short time ago.

Dirk, thanks so much for joining us.

DIRK VANDERHART, BYLINE: Yeah, good to be here, Michel.

MARTIN: So what did Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler have to say about the events today, especially the shooting?

VANDERHART: Yeah. Wheeler did not actually offer many new details about what happened last night. Instead, he essentially denounced the violence. He said, someone dying in these increasingly tense events, we've seen, has always been his biggest fear, and now it's come to pass. But a big part of Wheeler's remarks were what we've seen from him again and again. He sort of tries to appeal to people's better natures, urging them to cease violent activity and clashes.

One part of that was an appeal to Portlanders not to be goaded into reacting when groups like this pro-Trump rally come to town. But he also did make an appeal directly to some of those people who might be tempted to come to Portland. Here's what he said.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TED WHEELER: For those of you saying on Twitter this morning that you plan to come to Portland to seek retribution, I'm calling on you to stay away. You, of course, have a constitutional right to be here. But we're asking you to stay away and work with us to help us de-escalate this situation.

MARTIN: Dirk, what else do we know at this point about last night's shooting?

VANDERHART: There are not a lot of firm details. We know that it occurred at around 8:45 p.m. outside of a parking garage. You know, as we've discussed for much of the afternoon, this enormous parade of vehicles had been circling the city. That rally was really supposed to - you know, the pro-Trump rally - it was supposed to stick to the highways and sort of loop around the city's downtown core.

But what actually ended up happening was a decent amount of vehicles made their ways onto the streets of downtown, and that's where a lot of arguments and even physical clashes began occurring. Some people were even firing paintballs at counter-demonstrators.

Based on what's been reported, it sounds like the man who was killed may have been at least affiliated with a pro-Trump demonstration. That's based on some of the clothing he was wearing. But we just don't have that confirmed at this point.

MARTIN: And as we said, this was a confrontation between the president's supporters and counter-protesters. How has President Trump responded?

VANDERHART: Yeah, the president has been extremely vocal today about this. He has tweeted criticisms about Mayor Wheeler for much of the morning. In one of those, he tweeted that the mayor is an incompetent and a fool in all caps. That is more of the same from the president who has repeatedly criticized Oregon leaders. But on the ground, most leaders here actually blame Trump. They say he has acted to divide people and inflame tensions, and they believe that he has, as I said, goaded his supporters into stirring up trouble.

MARTIN: That's Dirk VanderHart with Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Dirk, thanks so much for your reporting.

VANDERHART: Yeah, my pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.