The friends of a Portland man slain downtown while guarding a Saturday truck convoy supporting President Donald Trump said he's been besmirched in the press after his killing.
Portland police today identified Aaron J. Danielson, 39, as the man fatally shot outside a parking garage on Southwest 3rd Avenue on Aug. 29. The shooter is still at large.
The official identification followed a weekend of rumors and false identifications, with at least two newspapers incorrectly naming another conservative protester as the victim. (The confusion appeared to arise from competing fundraisers purporting to aid the victim's family.)
Standing on the Rose Garden steps in Washington Park on Monday evening, Danielson's friends Michael Hamilton and Luke Carrillo said he had been falsely portrayed as a violent militant because of his association with the conservative protest group Patriot Prayer.
"We beg all of you, each of you, to stop comparing our friend to someone he didn't know and who he wasn't," Hamilton said.
Carrillo, Danielson's partner in a moving company, read from a prepared statement, breaking to catch his breath through tears. "Quick to crack a joke or offer a hug, Jay loved this community and the people in it," he said. "Aaron J. Danielson was not a radical, he was not a racist, he was not a fascist. He was a freedom-loving American who died expressing his beliefs, a right which is given to all of us through the Constitution."
The press conference was arranged by the Multnomah County Republican Party, which since the shooting has called for the president to crack down on Portland anti-fascists.
Danielson's killing has the city and the nation on edge tonight: The slaying, coming minutes after a caravan of trucks supporting Trump passed through downtown with men shooting paintballs and taunting political adversaries, is the latest image of Oregon chaos to become grist for Trump's campaign. It also threatens to increase the fixation on this city from the far right and paramilitary groups.
Earlier today, The Oregonian reported that an anti-fascist snowboarder was a person of interest in Danielson's killing and that he had previously been arrested for bringing a gun to a July 5 protest.
The friends made no comments on the ongoing investigation. Instead, they described Danielson as generous and kind.
Hamilton spoke for most of the time, telling stories about how Danielson offered him a place to stay when he could not afford rent. "When I moved to Portland in 2014, I had little more than a pickup truck and a plan," he said. "But Aaron looked at me and saw a person in need, and he filled that need by opening his home to me."
"The people that are portraying him in a different light didn't know him," Hamilton said. "And it's time that this city hears who he really was because he was a good, good man who would've helped anyone at any time. And to hear his name being mentioned the way it is is absolutely tragic."