A Black Lives Matter protest in memory of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in downtown Portland, Ore. erupted in chaos after a man pulled a handgun on the crowd Thursday night. The man, 36-year-old conservative blogger Michael Strickland, was videotaping the event and got into an argument with a number of protestors.
Freelance reporters and videographers are nothing new at protests, and they’re basically a minor annoyance to those in attendance. But this situation was different as members of the Portland protest became alarmed as Strickland kept gesturing to his waistband as he was recording the crowd. He revealed he was carrying a Glock 27 handgun and yelling at protestors to “back off!” Several protestors quickly hid behind by cars for protection. Strickland said he pulled out his gun because he felt he was outnumbered and feared for his life.
Several protestors said they approached Strickland calmly and asked him to leave, but Strickland was already reaching for his weapon before anyone said anything. Strickland is a conservative blogger, who runs the YouTube channel Laughing at Liberals and is a Donald Trump supporter. As this was occurring, there were no police officers present in the area, even though there were a number at the protest at Multnomah County Justice Center.
As the situation progressed, a SWAT team arrived on the scene and subdued the situation and arrested Strickland. Portland Police Chief Michael Marshman said in a note to his fellow officers emotions will be high the next few days, but it is important to stick together as a community:
“While these shootings occurred thousands of miles from Portland, we live in an age of constant media and social media dialogue that raises emotions in our own community. Those emotions are a reality that we need to acknowledge and then continue to talk to people about what we are doing here in our community.”
The recent wave of gun violence is taking its toll and tensions are high not just in Baton Rouge, Minnesota and Dallas, but throughout the country.