Portland responds with sympathy for Charlottesville, criticism for Trump

Members of Portland’s Jewish community added to the criticism of President Donald Trump for waiting to denounce the KKK and neo-Nazi groups involved in the Charlottesville protest that turned deadly when a man plowed his car into counter-demonstrators, killing a Virginia woman and injuring 19 more people Saturday.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Portland released a statement Monday morning calling on Trump to "directly denounce, in no uncertain terms and without equivocation, the white nationalist marchers and to make fighting hate a number one priority of his administration."

A few hours after the statement was issued, Trump did come out with a more specific statement condemning the KKK and neo-Nazis and saying "racism is evil."

But threats from hate groups still stand, said Bob Horenstein, a spokesman with the Jewish council.

"The Unite the Right protesters are equal opportunity bigots," he said. "Jews, African-Americans, other people of color will always be the target of their hatred. … Our community knows that where any one group is targeted — be it Jews, Muslims, African Americans, or LGBT people — it won’t be long before others are targeted as well."

President Donald Trump on Monday named and condemned hate groups as "repugnant" and declared "racism is evil" in an updated, more forceful statement on the deadly, race-fueled clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In the initial statement, members of the council took issue with Trump’s initial response to the attack in which he referenced "violence on both sides."

"There is no comparison between the protesters, who brought hate and violence to the streets of one of the symbolic birthplaces of American democracy, and the counter protesters," Horenstein said. "The rally was one of the largest showings from a hate group in decades. We stand with people of goodwill from all walks of life who are speaking out against hate. We must drive it back into the underground and to the margins of society."

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler tweeted his response to the violence on Sunday, calling for unity against bigotry.

All are created equal. The events in Virginia should serve to unite all Americans against hate, bigotry, and White Supremacy.

— Ted Wheeler (@tedwheeler) August 12, 2017

The NAACP Portland chapter also assembled a small group Saturday for an outdoor speech and Don’t Shoot PDX followed with a rally Sunday afternoon. The largest of the rallies took place Sunday night outside City Hall, when about 300 people turned out for a peaceful gathering.

A group of people gathered Sunday in Portland to mark their solidarity with protesters against white nationalists in Virginia where one woman was killed over the weekend.

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An unidentified employee with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office has been placed on leave, according to a news release Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. (The Oregonian/File photo)

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