White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Sunday that President Trump’s America is “peaceful” – less than 24 hours after a person was shot and killed during a clash between supporters of the president and Black Lives Matter protesters in Portland, Ore.
Meadows’ comments on Sunday also come days after his fellow Republicans pushed the message at their convention that electing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden would led to more violence and unrest. Democrats – and many commentators – noted that the violence was occurring during Trump’s tenure in the White House.
The White House chief of staff, however, said the unrest and violence was occurring in Democratic-led cities and states.
“These are people that every single night, conduct violent acts, and it is in Democrat cities,” Meadows said on NBC's "Meet The Press." “Most of Donald Trump's America is peaceful.”
He added: “It is a Democrat-led city in Portland that we're talking about this morning, who just yesterday denied help once again from the federal government.”
Portland has been the site of nightly protests for more than three months since George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died while Minneapolis tried to detain him. Many of them end in vandalism and violence, and hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested by local and federal law enforcement since late May.
It wasn’t clear if Saturday’s shooting was linked to fights that broke out as a caravan of about 600 vehicles was confronted by counter-demonstrators in the city’s downtown.
Police said the caravan had left the area around 8:30 p.m., and officers heard gunshots at about 8:46 p.m., according to a statement. Officers arrived at the shooting scene “within a minute,” police said, but the man who was shot did not survive.
But 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 man. The freelancer said the man was wearing a hat bearing the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group whose members have frequently clashed with protesters in Portland in the past.
Republicans last week continuously pushed the narrative during the GOP convention that Trump was the only thing standing between the country and the unrest and violence gripping a number of cities across the country.
“It took 244 years to build this great nation,” South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said in a pre-recorded speech from the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. “But we stand to lose it in a tiny fraction of that time if we continue down the path taken by the Democrats and their radical supporters.”
Noem added: “Democrat-run cities across this country are being overrun by violent mobs. The violence is rampant. There’s looting, chaos, destruction, and murder.”
The GOP convention was held amid the backdrop of raging protests in Kenosha Wisconsin in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man. Kenosha police have said little about what happened other than that they were responding to a domestic dispute, but state agents later recovered a knife from the driver’s side floorboard of the vehicle.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.