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Family Of Man Murdered By Antifa Gunman Sues Portland Officials For Hands-Off Approach To Riots

Portland, OR – The family of a man r who was murdered by an antifa gunman last summer is suing the Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, the City of Portland, and Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt for allegedly fostering an environment that led to Aaron “Jay” Danielson’s death.

The $13 million federal lawsuit, which was filed in Portland on Sept. 10, alleges city officials took a lackadaisical, “hands-off” approach during the months of violent nightly riots that took place downtown last summer, the New York Daily News reported.

It further accused the city of promoting a “culture of vigilante policing” with regards to handling the radical demonstrators, ultimately leading to Danielson’s murder on Aug. 29, 2020.

According to the lawsuit, the Portland Police Bureau’s (PPB) Rapid Response Team – a specialized crowd control unit – were less than two blocks away from the shooting when it occurred, but that they were barred from responding due to orders from their superiors to not intervene between the dueling groups, The Oregonian reported.

“Given the enormity of the press coverage over the past several years regarding clashes between left- and right-leaning protest groups in the downtown core of Portland, Defendants knew or should have known that violent clashes would occur,” the lawsuit read.

One week before Danielson’s death, police were ordered to stand down as demonstrators brawled outside the Multnomah County Justice Center using shields, bats, bear spray, and smoke bombs, according to the filing.

Wheeler and the city “fostered an environment in which demonstrators on both sides could reasonably anticipate a skeletal and passive police presence on the weekend of August 29, 2020,” the lawsuit read, according to The Oregonian.

“We are seeking justice for the preventable death of a young man, gunned down in a city with a dangerous and deadly hands-off approach to public safety,” Christopher Cauble, the attorney representing the estate, said in a statement. “Time and time again, City leadership and law enforcement have failed to find an effective response to clashing groups of protesters.”

The lawsuit alleges Schmidt’s refusal to prosecute most of the rioters allowed more violent criminals to remain on the streets, further compounding the problem, the New York Daily News reported.

Schmidt’s office has refused to prosecute a whopping 81 percent of the 1,109 protest-related cases that were referred for prosecution between May 29, 2020, and Aug. 20, 2021, according to his online “Mass Demonstration/Protest Case Dashboard.”

Danielson was killed shortly after a “Trump 2020 Cruise Rally in Portland” caravan from Clackamas, Oregon, drove through downtown Portland on Aug. 29, 2020, CNN reported at the time.

Participants flew “Thin Blue Line” and “Trump 2020” flags from their motorcycles, trucks, and cars as the caravan traveled through the area.

PPB Chief Chuck Lovell said police were aware the demonstrators were headed to the city, so they attempted to block the caravan from reaching the downtown area where rioters had been attacking police and wreaking havoc for over 95 consecutive nights, CNN reported.

Despite those efforts, a portion of the pro-Trump caravan managed to “come into the downtown core,” Chief Lovell told reporters.

Video footage captured clashes between the groups on multiple occasions prior to the fatal shooting at 8:45 p.m., CNN reported.

Security footage showed 48-year-old Michael Forest Reinoehl, a self-described antifascist, initiating contact with Danielson outside a parking garage, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

Danielson, who was was wearing a Patriot Prayer hat and a Thin Blue Line flag patch on the satchel he was carrying, was fatally shot by Reinoehl during the encounter, according to investigators.

He died in the middle of Southwest Third Avenue near Alder Street, according to The Oregonian.

A federally-deputized task force tracked Reinoehl down at an apartment complex in Lacey, Washington days after Danielson’s murder.

As the officers attempted to take the armed fugitive into custody, Reinoehl pulled a gun on them, according to the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS).

“Initial reports indicate the suspect produced a firearm, threatening the lives of law enforcement officers,” the USMS said in a statement to CNN at the time. “Task force members responded to the threat and struck the suspect who was pronounced dead at the scene.”

TCSO Lieutenant Ray Brady told KATU that the homicide suspect had tried to run away from the vehicle at one point.

“There was a confrontation between the officers that were on scene and the subject,” Lt. Brady said at the time. “The information we have at this time is that the subject was armed. There was shots that were fired into the vehicle, and the subject fled from the vehicle at which time there was additional shots that were fired.”

Four officers discharged their weapons during the incident, Lt. Brady said.

Reinoehl died of his gunshot wounds at the scene, KATU reported.

Antifa celebrated after Reinoehl fatally shot Danielson, video footage showed.

“The person who died was a Patriot Prayer person,” a member of the riotous mob told the crowd. “He was a f–king Nazi! Our community held its own and took out the trash!”

“I am not going to shed any tears over a Nazi!” she added, as the mob cheered.

Patriot Prayer is a local right-wing group which has held Christian pro-Trump rallies in the Portland area. Their rallies have attracted antifa who show up to disrupt the events and Proud Boys to fight the antifa.

Many of the events have ended in rioting after the antifa turn violent.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown blamed the violence on Patriot Prayer, USA Today reported.

“The right-wing group Patriot Prayer and self-proclaimed militia members drove into downtown Portland last night, armed and looking for a fight,” Brown said in a statement. “Every Oregonian has the right to freely express their views without fear of deadly violence. I will not allow Patriot Prayer and armed white supremacists to bring more bloodshed to our streets.”

“Time and again, from Charlottesville to Kenosha to Portland, we have seen the tragic outcome when armed right-wing vigilantes take matters into their own hands,” the governor preached. “Gun violence is never, ever the answer.”

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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