Trump has routinely raged against Democratic-led cities where protests have occurred, accusing Democrats of both fomenting and tolerating violence. Portland — more than any other city and where protests and sporadic violence have endured for more than four months — has become Trump’s rallying cry for this narrative and a frequent target of his Twitter feed.
In tweets between 7:30 and 8 a.m. Monday, Trump raged against the toppling of the statues in Portland, demanding that law enforcement officials “put these animals in jail, now.”
“Portland, call in the Feds!” he wrote in one tweet.
“These are Biden fools. ANTIFA RADICALS. Get them FBI, and get them now!” he wrote.
Portland police on Monday said they had arrested three people in connection with the incident, which it categorized as a “riot.” Police in Portland have regularly deemed such gatherings riots, as demonstrators have sparred with police while demanding social justice and police reform since the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by police in Minneapolis.
The crowd in Portland on Sunday night, which police estimated at its largest point attracted 300 people, was relatively small by Portland standards. The affiliations of the individuals who toppled the statues are unclear. Police said they arrested Malik Muhamad, 23, of Portland; Justin Bowen, 25, of Portland; and Brandon Bartells, 38, of Washington.
A Facebook page that appears to belong to Muhammad identifies him with the anti-fascist movement, and it contains posts condemning both Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. A Facebook page that appears to belong to Bowen links him to the Black Lives Matter movement. Neither responded to requests for comment.
Derek Carmon, a spokesman for the Portland Police Bureau, declined to confirm Trump’s assertions about the alleged perpetrators’ politics.
“We don’t ask criminal actors about political affiliations,” Carmon said. “The individuals who took part in toppling statues and committing other crimes were part of an organized group who gathered people for a ‘Day of Rage.’ . . . We plan to follow up on any criminal activity we can with a goal to hold people accountable.”
The Trump administration earlier this year dispatched federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security to deal with some of the protests, including when violent demonstrations focused on a federal building. Activists and local officials say the federal participation helped to fuel the unrest.
The White House on Monday also released an unusual proclamation in commemoration of Columbus Day, casting the holiday celebrating the 15th-century explorer Christopher Columbus as a symbol of Italian American heritage. Columbus, originally from Genoa, sailed on behalf of the Spanish monarchy, landed in what is now the Bahamas and never set foot on the land that would become the United States.
Awareness of the atrocities Columbus and his men committed — including the rape, murder and enslavement of Indigenous people — has led many Americans to question or abandon the Columbus Day holiday. At least five states and the District of Columbia have moved in recent years to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
In the White House proclamation, Trump cast the desire to do away with Columbus Day as the product of a “radical ideology” perpetrated by “radical activists” and “extremists.”
Columbus was a “legendary figure” and a hero, Trump said, a symbol of the United States’ “rich Italian heritage” and its “beautiful Italian American Communities.”