Trump presses law and order message as protest turns deadly

Shooting follows week of countrywide protests, including cancellation of sporting events

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A man was shot dead in the US city of Portland, police said on Sunday, in the latest violence to upend anti-racism protests.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump continued to push his election message that his Democratic opponent Joe Biden is weak on violent crime.

But hours after the gunfire on Saturday during a pro-Trump rally in the city, Mr Biden accused the president of fanning the flames of violence in a polarised and tense nation.

The shooting followed a week of countrywide protests, including the cancellation of sporting events, over the police shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, of black American Jacob Blake.

The violence in Portland erupted during a rally involving hundreds of vehicles "caravanning throughout downtown Portland", police said.

OregonLive reported  clashes and "tense moments" between demonstrators and counter-protesters.

PORTLAND, OR - AUGUST 27: Peaceful protesters march through downtown in solidarity with Jacob Blake on August 27, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. Protests continued across the country Thursday night following the police shooting of Blake in Wisconsin.   Nathan Howard/Getty Images/AFP
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The police shooting of black American Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin has led to mass protests across America. AFP

Photographs from the scene showed the victim wearing a hat with a logo for "Patriot Prayer," described by local media as a far-right group at the centre of Portland rallies that have ended in violence.

The Portland clashes followed unrest in Kenosha, where prosecutors accused Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, of shooting dead two men and wounding another.

The three victims were protesting against Mr Blake's shooting.

Mr Trump is due to travel on Tuesday to the Midwest city to meet law enforcement officials and view damage from unrest after Mr Blake's shooting last weekend.

Wisconsin's Governor Tony Evers sent the president a letter asking him to reconsider the visit because it "will only hinder our healing".

Violence connected to anti-racism protests has become a major issue in the campaign for November's presidential election.

Mr Trump has been promoting himself as the "law and order" candidate and saying a Biden presidency would allow left-wing mob rule.

Mr Biden has condemned the violence and said Mr Trump played a role in spurring the clashes.

"He is recklessly encouraging violence," the Democratic nominee said.

"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."

Mr Biden's campaign said he would give a speech Monday to address what it called a key question facing voters in November: "Are you safe in Donald Trump's America?"

Mr Trump spent Sunday morning tweeting and retweeting dozens of posts purporting to show violence in Democratic-run cities, especially Portland.

He has repeatedly threatened to send federal government troops into the west coast city if Mayor Ted Wheeler does not crack down.

Mr Trump attacked Mr Wheeler, a Democrat, for refusing help from the National Guard, which he said "could solve these problems in less than 1 hour".

"Wheeler is incompetent, much like Sleepy Joe Biden," he tweeted.

"This is not what our great country wants. They want safety and Security, and do not want to defund our police."

Mr Wheeler on Sunday blasted Mr Trump.

He said that for almost four years Americans have had to tolerate racist attacks on blacks, sexist talk about women, insults towards immigrants and journalists, and now, towards mayors of US cities.

"Do you seriously wonder, Mr President, why this is the first time in decades that America has seen this level of violence?" Mr Wheeler asked.

"It's you who have created the hate and the division."

PORTLAND, OR - AUGUST 30: Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler speaks to the media at City Hall on August 30, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. A man was fatally shot Saturday night as a Pro-Trump rally clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters in downtown Portland.   Nathan Howard/Getty Images/AFP
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Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler speaks to the media at City Hall on August 30, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. AFP

He said the car caravan that rode through Portland on Saturday night was inspired by Mr Trump.

"They were supported and energised by the president himself," Mr Wheeler said.

He shared an open letter to Mr Trump on Friday in which he said: "We know you've reached the conclusion that images of violence or vandalism are your only ticket to re-election."

Senate homeland security committee chairman Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, said the violence and loss of life would not stop until law enforcement reasserted control.

"But when you encourage the disdain for the police you encourage criminals," Mr Johnson told CNN.

"When you do little or nothing to stop rioting, you encourage anarchy. People's lives are lost."