One person was shot dead on Saturday night in Portland, Oregon, as a large trailer of Donald Trump supporters and Black Lives Matter protesters clashed in the streets, police said.
It was not clear whether the shooting was linked to fighting that erupted when a caravan of around 600 vehicles was confronted by protesters in the city’s inner city.
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 male.
“Portland police heard gunshots coming from the Southeast 3rd Avenue and Southwest Alder Street area,” Portland Police said in a statement.
“They reacted and located a victim with gunshot wounds in the chest. The doctor responded and determined that the victim was dead. “
Portland has been the scene of nightly protests for more than three months since the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Hundreds of people were arrested by local and federal law enforcement and, before the shooting, police made several arrests on Saturday and advised residents to avoid the city center.
The chaotic scene came two days after Trump cited Portland as a liberal city overrun by violence in a speech at the Republican National Convention as part of his “law and order” re-election campaign. The caravan marked the third Saturday in a row that Trump supporters gathered in the city.
The trailer of Trump supporters had gathered earlier in the day at a nearby mall and traveled as a group to the heart of Portland. Upon arriving in the city, the protesters tried to stop them by standing in the street and blocking bridges.
Videos from the scene showed sporadic fighting, as well as Trump supporters firing paintballs at opponents and using bear spray as counter-protesters threw objects at the Trump trailer.
“There have been instances of violence between protesters and counter-protesters,” Portland police said via Twitter. “Officers intervened and, in some cases, made arrests.”
Black Lives Matter protests typically target police and federal buildings. Some protesters called for cuts to police budgets while the city’s mayor and some members of the black community denounced the violence, saying it was counterproductive.
Early Saturday morning, fires outside a police union building which is a frequent site of protests prompted police to declare a riot.
An accelerator was used to ignite a mattress and other debris deposited against the door of the Portland Police Association building, police said in a statement. At least one dumpster was also set on fire in the nearby street.
The commotion followed a sit-in in the lobby of the Portland mayor’s condominium on Friday night.