Content notes: First, this article discusses a mass shooting resulting in a death and injuries. Take care of yourself, especially if this material is triggering for you. Graphic videos and photos are not included in this article, but many of the links included may also link to such materials. Second, many details are not yet available. While I’ll update this article as more information becomes available, we may not know certain details for weeks to come — if ever.
Shooter attacked protest march in Northeast Portland
A shooter targeted protestors at Normandale Park in the Rose City Park neighborhood of Portland last night at around 8:00 p.m. One person, identified Monday as June Knightly, was reported dead on the scene and at least five more were taken to area hospitals for treatment.
Protestors had gathered to denounce police violence — specifically, Minneapolis Police Officer Mark Hanneman’s killing of Amir Locke in Minneapolis on February 2, 2022 and Portland Police Officers Garry Britt and Jeffrey Livingston’s killing of Patrick Kimmons on September 30, 2018. A march was scheduled to start at 8:00 p.m, organized by JFPK. Multiple witnesses have reported that a group of about 50 protestors had just started marching when a person exited a nearby home and shot at the crowd. The shooter targeted unarmed traffic safety volunteers working to steer vehicles away from the planned march.
Community medics at the protest responded immediately. When members of the Portland Police Bureau arrived onsite, medics were already administering aid. Police officers pushed medics away from victims needing aid, even arresting one medic.
Wounded community members were taken to area hospitals. Family and community members held space at multiple locations throughout the night. Multiple vigils took place on Sunday and Monday. An online vigil is planned for 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 22. Many of shared remembrances of Knightly, who also went by T-Rex.
Police officers are reportedly investigating the shooting, already labelling witnesses as uncooperative when questioning people used to police violence immediately after a traumatic event. At a press conference on Sunday, the Portland Police Bureau refused to comment on whether anyone was arrested in connection with the shooting. However, they have made a point of referring to the shooter multiple times as a ‘homeowner’. This framing is concerning, both in terms of police officers laying groundwork for a suspect’s legal defense and also in terms of pushing media to frame the shooting as an act of property defense.
Community work saves lives
Without the rapid work of community medics, we likely would have seen more deaths at this event. Local organizations, such as the Rosehip Medic Collective, organized bleeding control workshops and stocked community medics with individual first aid kits meant for gunshot wounds in 2020 and 2021. These efforts made rapid responses by medics possible and directly contributed to saving lives.
Take care of your community
A GoFundMe fundraiser is now running to cover medical, legal, and funeral expenses for those shot yesterday evening. Update Feb 24 — While I previously recommended this GoFundMe campaign, there are some concerns about the campaign. Please check more recent updates for recommended donation opportunities.
If you took photos or videos at Normandale Park last night, consider keeping them off of social media, at least for now. I wish that showing respect to those victims who can’t consent to their images being circulated was the only reason to avoid posting such materials. However, we’re already seeing targeted harassment of people who were at Normandale Park by White supremacists and other bad actors calling for even more violence and death.
If you were at Normandale Park last night or connected to someone who was, you may be questioned by police. Even if you feel comfortable sharing what you witnessed with police, wait to respond until you can have a lawyer with you. You will not hold up an investigation by doing so. If you do not have access to a lawyer, the Portland GDC (503-442-0866 or pdxgdc at riseup dot net) or Defense Fund PDX (833-680-1312) may be able to provide guidance.
Graphic videos and photos of victims, as well as medics in action, are circulating on Twitter and other social media platforms. If you use social media, consider turning off autoplay of videos. Twitter users on desktop computers can do so in their settings through the ‘Data usage’ submenu.
There’s a lot of misinformation flying around right now, especially on social media. Some of the misinformation out there is purposeful, intended to create a narrative that matches far-right beliefs. Please confirm information through multiple sources before sharing. If you’re not sure about the accuracy of information, wait to share it. We all feel a sense of urgency right now, but there’s time enough to avoid misinformation.
Local context on fascist and state actions
We don’t know anything about the shooter yet. But they didn’t shoot protestors in a vacuum. Prior to the planned march at Normandale Park, fascist agitators posted threats against attendees to social media. This and other harassment is commonplace, just as violence against protestors has become a regular occurrence. Portland police and prosecutors have routinely chosen not to pursue investigations into violence against protestors. Scott Broughton, one of the detectives assigned to investigate the shooting at Normandale Park, was previously assigned to investigate the murder of Sean Kealiher, better known as Armeanio Lewis, in 2019. Kealiher was active in local anti-fascist efforts. No substantive progress has been made in that investigation.
Andy Ngo, a far-right commentator known for targeting Portland protestors, tweeted about the event several times. Fascist groups were also active in Portland yesterday, hanging racist banners on highways during the day.
Last night’s shooting feel to many like a consequence of the City of Portland’s routine efforts to portray protestors as criminals. Ted Wheeler, the mayor and police commissioner of Portland, specifically suggested harming protestors on April 23, 2021.
JFPK, a community organization that seeks justice Patrick Kimmons, has organized weekly marches in Portland for years. These marches are arguably some of the most peaceful protests for racial justice the city sees — marchers are asked to avoid property damage, physical violence and even disrupting businesses.
Furthermore, Portland police officers killed someone in Southwest Portland last night, just before the events at Normandale Park in Northeast Portland. Few details on this latest act of police violence are available. Portland police officers killed four people in 2021. Their union contract is about to be renewed with salary increases for all officers.
Gun violence as a whole has also risen in Portland over the past several years. There were multiple other shootings in Portland over the weekend. No matter the politics of anyone involved in any of these shootings, research demonstrates that firearm homicide rates are directly related to the social safety nets and economic opportunities we each have. Any media describing this shooting as ‘random gun violence’ is contributing to a specific narrative just as much as any media suggesting that protestors deserve to face violence.
This article was updated February 20, 2022 at 2:45 p.m. The prior versions are archived on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.