(Headline USA) Once hailed as one of the most livable U.S. cities, Portland, Oregon, is grappling with an uncertain future as it reaches a stunning benchmark: 100 consecutive nights of riots citing “systemic racism” as an excuse, marred by vandalism, chaos — and the killing of a supporter of President Donald Trump.
They have also transformed Oregon’s largest city into a centerpiece of Trump’s “law and order” re-election campaign theme, even as rioters laughably slam the police for aggressive tactics.
The slaying of the Trump supporter — gunned down after he came downtown last weekend with a pro-Trump caravan of vehicles — pushed the crisis further toward a breaking point. The prime suspect in the shooting, self-described “100-percent Antifa” member Michael Forest Reinoehl, was killed Thursday night by law enforcement.
Amid the turbulence, Portland now finds itself as a proxy for the culture wars sweeping the nation.
The exact date of the 100-day milestone depends on how the riots are counted, but everyone agrees the benchmark falls over the Labor Day weekend. Marxist Black Lives Matter plans to mark the occasion over three days and Trump supporters plan another caravan rally.
The events come after officials in suburban counties refused a call from Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, for their deputies to assist Portland police following last weekend’s violence.
“The worst-case scenario is that there’s another incident and it just touches off so much that the city just can’t survive it very well,” said Ron Louie, a former suburban Portland police chief, author of a crisis negotiation book and current Portland State University professor.
Thousands of rioters turned out nightly, with some hurling fireworks, rocks, ball bearings and bottles at law enforcement. They responded with huge plumes of tear gas, rubber bullets and flash-bang grenades.
Antifa anarchists want city officials to slash the police budget and reallocate that money to black residents and businesses. Some demonstrators are also demanding the resignation of Mayor Ted Wheeler, a white limousine liberal and the scion of a timber company fortune.
During the clashes, some have broken windows, set small fires, punctured police car tires with spikes, shined lasers in officers’ eyes and pelted them with rocks and frozen water bottles.
The tension reached a new high last weekend when the pro-Trump caravan motored into downtown, with some shooting paintballs and spraying bear repellent at Black Lives Matter protesters who tried to block the streets.
As night fell, peaceful Trump supporter Aaron “Jay” Danielson, 39, was fatally shot as he walked on a sidewalk. Reinoehl, the suspected shooter, was killed late Thursday by a law enforcement task force sent to arrest him outside Lacey, Washington.
After Danielson’s killing, Brown sent state police back into the city to help local police. Those troopers have been deputized as federal law enforcement officers by the U.S. Marshal’s Service, which means protesters arrested by state troopers far from federal property could now face prosecution by the U.S. government.
The move appears to be a way to get around Portland’s newly elected local prosecutor, who has dismissed hundreds of cases against demonstrators arrested for low-level, non-violent offenses.
Meanwhile, Wheeler is politically sandwiched between Trump and local business owners who want order restored and left-wing groups demanding his resignation for what they call his failure to rein in local police.
Wheeler announced this week he would move out of his upscale condominium complex after protesters broke windows and set fires there, spooking his neighbors.
“These acts of violence distract us. And they must stop,” Wheeler said on Facebook.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.