CNN opted to fact-check President Donald Trump after he stated that Portland is “ablaze all the time,” deeming the assessment “wildly inaccurate” because the entire city is not literally engulfed in flames.
President Trump spoke of the unending violence in Portland during Monday’s press conference, explaining that counter-protesters who are heading to the cities under siege by left-wing agitators are getting fed up with the widespread lawlessness:
When they turn on television, or read whatever they may be reading, and they see a city like Chicago, where 78 people were shot and 13 died; or a city like New York, where the crime rate has gone through the roof; or a city like Portland, where the entire city is ablaze all the time, and a mayor says, “We don’t want any help from the federal government.”
CNN fact-checked Trump’s remark on Portland, deeming it “not even close to true” and “wildly inaccurate.” The outlet pointed to Lt. Rich Chatman, a spokesman for Portland Fire & Rescue, who told CNN in a text message that “WE ARE NOT ABLAZE IN PORTLAND.”
“There is a very isolated pocket of demonstrations that have involved fire, none of which has been substantial enough to need more than 1 fire engine,” he said.
CNN appeared to attempt to downplay the magnitude of the violence in Portland, writing that “some” of the protests have “featured vandalism and violence.” As acting Secretary Chad Wolf wrote in an August 31 letter to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D), local law enforcement has made 255 arrests and declared 23 riots and unlawful assemblies since July 31 alone.
Chatman told CNN that there have been fires “just about every night,” noting that most have been dumpster fires or trash cans “away from any structures.” However, he added that there have also been attempts to set buildings ablaze but said such attempts were confined to a “small group of demonstrators.”
“Regardless, Trump’s claim about the ‘entire city’ was wildly inaccurate,” CNN determined, also referring to law enforcement correspondent Josh Campbell, who called Trump’s statement a “100% flat out lie.”
To prove his point, he posted a serene photo of the city Tuesday morning, telling his followers that he enjoyed a breakfast burrito outside without being attacked by “shadowy gangs of Antifa commandos”:
Good morning from wonderful Portland, where the city is not under siege and buildings are not burning to the ground.
I also ate my breakfast burrito outside today and so far haven’t been attacked by shadowy gangs of Antifa commandos. pic.twitter.com/shG39nVRnS
— Josh Campbell (@joshscampbell) September 1, 2020
“Now do the fence surrounding the federal courthouse at 12 AM on a Saturday,” the Daily Caller’s chief video editor Richie McGinniss, who has been on the ground documenting the violent nights in cities like Kenosha, responded:
Now do the fence surrounding the federal courthouse at 12 AM on a Saturday
— Richie🎥McG🍿 (@RichieMcGinniss) September 1, 2020
CNN concluded that the problems in Portland have “largely been confined to a small area in the immediate vicinity of a federal courthouse” and claimed that most Portland residents have “continued to go about their lives in peace even as some conservative media outlets have depicted large swaths of the city as under siege.”
Portland has seen violent protests consistently since the May 25 death of George Floyd, as agitators continue to target the federal courthouse and police officers with rocks, powerful lasers, and commercial-grade fireworks. In some instances, they have brazenly burned American flags and at least one Bible.
Despite CNN inferring that Portland protesters are not affecting everyday people, businesses in downtown Portland have lost millions since the start of the riots. Many businesses are now hoping to leave the area due to the ongoing violence and the impact it is having on business.
“The number is like nothing I have seen in 42 years of doing business in downtown,” Greg Goodman, co-president of the Downtown Development Group, said of the businesses looking to leave the area.
Portland Police declared another riot in Portland late Monday night after demonstrators “broke windows, burglarized a business, and lit a fire in an occupied apartment building,” according to the Portland Police Bureau (PPB).
Notably, PPB listed a handful of fire-related incidents during Monday night’s protests, despite CNN’s apparent position that such actions are minimal:
Some in the crowd began lighting off what appeared to be illegal commercial-grade fireworks. A fire was lit in a garbage can in the street. Some windows were broken and walls were defaced with graffiti (photo). In an attempt to deescalate, officers stayed out of sight and monitored the situation from a distance. However, the vandalism and burning continued. People were seen burglarizing a business, taking furniture out, and throwing it on the fires in the street (photo).
PPB added that someone tossed “burning material” into “a ground-level business in a large, occupied apartment building,” prompting officials to declare a riot:
This was the arson fire that prompted a riot declaration tonight. It was critical to secure the area to allow firefighters to respond to this dangerous situation. https://t.co/k33vcLD4BY
— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) September 1, 2020
Over loudspeaker, participants in the gathering were told that the area was closed to all persons, including media and legal observers, to allow firefighters to respond and extinguish the fires. Few, if any, of the persons complied.
Officers began to move the crowd. Immediately officers reported rocks and paint balloons being thrown at them. Arrests were made. As the crowd moved away, some attempted to stack debris in the road to create barricades.
PPB added that “at least one more dumpster was lit on fire.”
Other cities, such as Kenosha, Wisconsin, have seen structures, quite literally, consumed by flames, as rioters torched businesses throughout the city last week following the police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake:
BLM arson attacks overnight in Kenosha, Wisc. spread to the Bradford Community Church, a far-left universalist religious organization. The church’s sign in support of #BlackLivesMatter was consumed in flames. pic.twitter.com/u02CIwsnIm
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) August 24, 2020
— Jorge Ventura Media (@VenturaReport) August 25, 2020
A closer look at just one of the buildings (the local furniture store) currently up in flames in Kenosha tonight: pic.twitter.com/2EvasISbN1
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) August 25, 2020