A shooting during an anti-racism protest in Portland, Oregon, Saturday is starting to look more and more like Charlottesville’s “Unite the Right” rally in 2017—mostly because it ended in the death of a white woman who was on the side of the anti-police violence activists.
According to BuzzFeed News, Portland police have identified 43-year-old Benjamin Smith as the man who allegedly opened fire on Portland demonstrators who were protesting police killings of Black people including Amir Locke. Smith was reportedly shot by an armed protester after he opened fire injuring at least four protesters and killing 60-year-old June Knightly, who was described by BuzzFeed as “a beloved longtime member of Portland’s activist community,” and someone who “would often assist with security and traffic control at protests to keep marchers safe.”
“She just had that demeanor about her to keep everyone calm and keep everyone safe,” Knightly’s friend Nacie Runyan told KGW8. “She was just this bright light of a motherly figure as well and that’s why everybody warmed up to her almost immediately, because of what she did for everybody else.”
As for the alleged shooter, Protester Dajah Beck told the New York Times that Smith had approached the protesters calling them “violent terrorists” just before threatening to shoot them if they passed his house and not long before allegedly carrying out his threat. According to police, he’s currently “hospitalized in serious condition.”
Beck, who was shot in her side and knee, said protesters tried to de-escalate the situation but Smith started firing anyway. She said she saw “my two friends on the ground covered in blood,” and Kightly was reportedly one of those friends.
While Kigntly was known by loved ones as a caring community activist, Smith is known as a radicalized right-wing activist who hates anti-police protests and fantasized about shooting members Antifa, which was conservatives’ favorite boogieman group targetted for right-wing propaganda before said right-wingers discovered critical race theory.
“He talked about wanting to go shoot commies and Antifa all the friggin‘ time,” Smits roommate, Kristine Christenson told Oregon Public Broadcasting. “He was just a sad angry dude. He talked about wanting to do this for a while. He was angry at the mask mandates, he was angry at the damned liberals.”
Christenson said she moved into Smith’s apartment seven years ago but didn’t notice he was a crazy conservative terrorist attack waiting to happen until around the end of Barack Obama’s presidency and throughout Donald Trump’s occupation of the White House.
“As the years went on, he’s just gotten more and more radicalized. He got angrier and angrier,” Christenson said. “I have not been comfortable living with him for a while. I did not feel safe with him, especially this last two years with the whole COVID thing. I think that made him even more angry.”
Whaaaat? A conservative anti-masker who hates Black Lives Matter and Antifa and was influenced by Trump propaganda let his ignorance turn him into a violent killer? You don’t say.
Of course, the police in Portland have apparently been trying to downplay the incident and characterize it as “a confrontation between an armed homeowner and armed protesters,” which Beck and others vehemently denied.
But according to BuzzFeed, police insisted in a statement that it was a “very complicated incident, and investigators are trying to put this puzzle together without having all the pieces.”
“The scene was extremely chaotic, and a number of witnesses were uncooperative with responding officers,” police said. “Most people on scene left without talking to police.”
I guess in a cop’s mind it’s weird that people don’t want to talk to cops who are seemingly going out of their way to give a shooter at an anti-cop protest the benefit of the doubt.
We will just have to wait and see what happens to Smith once police are done putting together this “puzzle.”