BLM protests, a shooting and a group called Patriot Prayer. What’s going on in Portland?

US federal authorities say all options are on the table to quell the unrest in Portland, Oregon after a man was shot and killed overnight.

Violent clashes erupted in Portland for the 90th straight day on Sunday (local time), as Black Lives Matter protests continue throughout the city.

Hold up, what’s happening in Portland?

The Black Lives Matter protests were sparked by the death of George Floyd back in May. And the protesting didn’t stop.

Many have ended with vandalism to federal and city property, including police stations, a county jail, the federal courthouse and Portland City Hall.

In July, President Donald Trump sent more than 100 agents from the Department of Homeland Security to safeguard federal buildings — a move that instead reinvigorated the protests.

Thousands of people clashed with the federal agents each night for two weeks in a two-block area of the city, with agents lobbing tear gas canisters and pepper spray at the crowds and some protesters tossing fireworks at the agents.

Federal agents withdrew on July 31, but smaller nightly protests have continued in pockets of the city.

Things escalated on Saturday night with the arrival of a caravan

A rider with a huge image of Donald Trump's head rigged to his motorbike smiles.
Donald Trump supporters taking part in Saturday’s caravan.(AP: Paula Bronstein)

A caravan of about 600 vehicles of pro-Trump supporters arrived downtown just as a planned Black Lives Matter protest was getting underway.

Supporters of the US President gathered at a shopping centre in the city’s south-east before they travelled into the city.

Most were flying Trump 2020 flag or a thin blue line flag, commonly associated with support for the police.

Police then said the caravan and protesters clashed in the streets with people shooting paintball guns from trucks and protesters throwing objects at the vehicles.

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The caravan marked the third Saturday in a row that Trump supporters have rallied in the city.

Then a man was shot

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Police respond to the shooting of a man during the protests in Portland.

Amid the Saturday protests, multiple gunshots rang out and a man fell to the ground. Police swarmed his body but the man died at the scene.

Police say he was shot in the chest, but it’s unclear who’s responsible or if it’s related to the clashes between the caravan and protesters. The shooting happened minutes after the convoy left the city’s CBD.

The victim is thought to be from a group called Patriot Prayer.

What is Patriot Prayer?

Founded in 2016, Patriot Prayer is a conservative Christian group based in Washington state, neighbouring Oregon in the north-west United States.

On its Facebook page, the group says it’s about “using the power of love and prayer to fight the corruption both in the government and citizen levels that seek to gain power through division and deception”.

Its supporters had been periodically coming to Portland to hold rallies for Mr Trump since 2017.

Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson identified the victim as Aaron “Jay” Danielson, who apparently also went by the name Jay Bishop, according to Patriot Prayer’s Facebook page.

In a post on the group’s Facebook page, Mr Gibson called the victim a “good friend,” but provided no further details.

“We love Jay and he had such a huge heart. God bless him and the life he lived,” Mr Gibson said in a Facebook post.

The President also retweeted the victim’s name, writing “Rest in peace Jay!”

Then Trump weighed in, creating a testy news conference with Portland’s mayor

After the shooting, Mr Trump shared a video of his supporters driving into Portland and called those in Saturday’s caravan “GREAT PATRIOTS!”

That prompted Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler to accuse Mr Trump of sowing division.

“He encouraged them to come into our community and previously has actually encouraged or tacitly approved violence and so I’m not surprised in the slightest,” he said.

The two engaged in a real-time argument on Sunday as the President sent a flurry of critical tweets about Mr Wheeler as the Mayor was holding a press conference about the shooting.

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After the President called the Democrat mayor a “fool” and blamed him for creating the toxic environment in the city that led to the shooting, the visibly angry Mayor lashed out at the President, addressing him in the first person through the TV cameras.

“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,” Mr Wheeler said

“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.

“Let’s work together. Wouldn’t that be a message? Donald Trump and Ted Wheeler working together to help move this country forward. Why don’t we try that for a change?”

So what happens next?

Portland authorities urged people to stay away from the downtown area on Sunday where a protest had been planned.

As for the shooting, police have released little information.

Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said investigators were still gathering evidence, including surveillance video from area businesses.

Police have asked for any information related to the killing, including videos, photos or eyewitness accounts.

Mr Wheeler has begged those who wanted to come to Portland to “seek retribution” to stay away.

“If you’re from out of town and you’re reading something on social media — if you’re reading any facts on social media — they’re probably wrong because we don’t have all the facts yet,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security says “all options remain on the table” to bring the unrest under control.

ABC/AP

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