PRESIDENT Donald Trump unleashed a tweetstorm early Sunday about Portland, Oregon, hours after a man was killed there during clashes between a large group of Mr. Trump supporters and Black Lives Matter demonstrators.
The string of messages enlivened criticism from Democrats, including presidential candidate Joe Biden, that Mr. Trump is looking to inflame unrest in US cities because he believes it will help his re-election campaign.
The president retweeted a post that had used a profanity to describe Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler — commenting only to “Tone down the language, but TRUE!” — and others in which the original tweeters accused the mayor, a Democrat, of “war crimes” and of having blood on his hands.
Portland has been the site of protests, often violent, for months, following the killing of a Black man, George Floyd, by police in Minnesota in late May.
While labeling Black Lives Matter protesters in Washington as “agitators and thugs,” Mr. Trump praised as “GREAT PATRIOTS” the hundreds of his supporters who rolled into the city in a convoy of cars and trucks on Saturday. He concluded a string of dozens of tweets with the slogan “LAW AND ORDER!!!”
Video posted on Twitter from Portland showed some of the caravan participants driving pickup trucks into protesters and shooting what appeared to be tear gas and paint balls.
The man shot to death on Saturday night was a supporter of a right-wing group that’s frequently clashed with other demonstrators there. He was identified by the group Patriot Prayer as Aaron “Jay” Danielson, who also went by Jay Bishop. Mr. Trump tweeted “Rest in Peace Jay!”
In a lengthy statement, Mr. Biden said “it isn’t a peaceful protest when you go out spoiling for a fight.”
“I condemn violence of every kind by anyone, whether on the left or the right. And I challenge Donald Trump to do the same,” Mr. Biden said in a statement Sunday.
Mr. Biden said “the job of a president is to lower the temperature” and Mr. Trump’s “failure to call on his supporters to stop seeking conflict shows just how weak he is.”
Mr. Wheeler, the Portland mayor, hit back at Mr. Trump during a press conference. “It’s you who have created the hate and the division,” Mr. Wheeler said of the president. “You’ve tried to divide us more than any other figure in modern history. And now you want me to stop the violence that you helped create.” — Bloomberg