Patriot Prayer has hosted dozens of pro-gun, pro-Trump rallies. Attendees have repeatedly clashed with left-wing groups around Portland, Oregon, where one group supporter was killed this week.

Joey Gibson, leader of the right wing Patriot Prayer group, arrives at the scene of a shooting amid weekend street clashes between supporters of Trump and counter-demonstrators in Portland, Oregon, US, August 29, 2020.
Joey Gibson, leader of the right wing Patriot Prayer group, arrives at the scene of a shooting amid weekend street clashes between supporters of Trump and counter-demonstrators in Portland, Oregon, US, August 29, 2020. (Reuters)

Facebook has removed accounts of far-right group Patriot Prayer for violating its ban on dangerous groups or individuals.

"They were removed as part of our ongoing efforts to remove Violent Social Militias from our platform," Facebook said in response to an AFP query.

Patriot Prayer has become embroiled in recent violence pitting rival groups of protesters against one another in the northwestern city of Portland, and a follower of the group was fatally shot last weekend.

Patriot Prayer is a far-right group active in the Pacific northwest, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

"Over the past three years, the group has hosted and promoted rallies in progressive cities like Portland, frequently engaging in violence against their political opponents," the centre said in a post on its website.

"Patriot Prayer rallies regularly include the Proud Boys, a hate group, and various antigovernment extremist groups."

Media in Oregon cited an attorney for Patriot Payer founder Joey Gibson as confirming that his accounts and those of the group were removed by Facebook.

Gibson has rejected accusations that Patriot Prayer is a white supremacist group, maintaining it is a Christian organisation, according to local media.

READ MORE: Portland shooting suspect killed by officers during arrest

Portland protests: Two dead on either side of divide

One was an far-right activist, the other a member of the far-left Antifa movement. Both men paid with their lives after getting drawn into the anti-racism demonstrations that have shaken the US for the last three months.

Aaron Danielson, 39, a supporter of Patriot Prayer, was fatally shot last weekend in Portland, Oregon after he joined pro-Trump supporters who descended on the western US city, sparking confrontations with Black Lives Matter counter-protesters.

Five days later, the man suspected in the shooting, Michael Reinoehl, 48, was killed in the neighbouring state of Washington as police tried to arrest him on Thursday evening.

READ MORE: Casualty as Trump supporters and BLM protesters clash in Portland

Shortly before his death, Vice News published an interview with Reinoehl, a former professional snowboarder who appears to have taken part in many of the nightly protests in Portland, according to his Instagram page.

Reinoehl appeared to acknowledge shooting Danielson in the interview.

He said on the night of the tragedy, he and a friend had ended up in a standoff with a man he claimed had a knife.

"Had I stepped forward, he would have maced or stabbed me," Reinoehl told VICE.

"I was confident that I did not hit anyone innocent and I made my exit," he added.

He said he fired his gun in self-defence.

"You know, lots of lawyers suggest that I shouldn't even be saying anything, but I feel it's important that the world at least gets a little bit of what's really going on," he said. "I had no choice. I mean, I, I had a choice. I could have sat there and watched them kill a friend of mine of colour. But I wasn't going to do that."

However one of Danielson's friends, Chandler Pappas, who was with him when he died, insists he was gunned down because he was a supporter of Patriot Prayer and was wearing a hat with the group's logo.

"He was a good man and he was just killed senselessly for no reason other than he believed something different than they do," he told supporters during a rally Sunday. "He was Christian. He was conservative."

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The exact circumstances surrounding Danielson's death may never be known but cellphone video of the shooting shows both him and his assailant on a darkened street.

Three shots ring out and Danielson is then shown on the ground as Pappas slaps him in the face yelling "Jay, Jay," his nickname.

What is certain is that Danielson and Reinoehl may well have crossed paths before during the nightly demonstrations that have taken place in downtown Portland since the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about the George Floyd killing and the protests

Reinoehl portrayed himself on social media as a former soldier who helped the protesters with security.

In an Instagram post on June 16 he wrote he was "100% Antifa" and predicted violence.

"We truly have an opportunity right now to fix everything," he wrote. "But it will be a fight like no other! It will be a war and like all wars there will be casualties."

On the eve of the shooting, The Oregonian newspaper said Reinoehl was spotted at a demonstration near the Portland mayor's house with his 11-year-old daughter who carried a baseball bat.

Court records also show he was given a citation on July 5 for carrying a loaded weapon in a public place. In June, he was arrested for driving under the influence after he was seen racing with another car driven by his 17-year-old son.

As for Danielson, he rode around Portland on an electric skateboard every night since the protests erupted to record the unrest on his phone and uploaded the videos on a YouTube channel.

On the night of his death, Danielson, who worked for a transport company and lived alone with his two dogs, was out documenting the latest protest, according to a friend.

READ MORE: It's right versus left as Americans clash with each other in several states

Social upheaval

Shootings at protests against police brutality have stoked fears of rising violence as a deeply divided US heads into elections amid economic collapse, the pandemic and the worst social upheaval since the 1960s.

"The radical right is actively looking to exploit today's historically polarised political climate, one that has become even more uncertain under the strain of the coronavirus pandemic and protests for racial justice," warned the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups.

"With the 2020 presidential election fast approaching, the prospect that extremists might resort to political violence is a very real one," it said.

Up against the extreme right is a more diverse coalition of activists that US President Donald Trump collectively calls "Antifa," short for "Anti-fascist," whom he accuses of being "rioters, anarchists, agitators and looters."

Its members "vary from thugs who like to fight... to those who are more truly defensive to those who are active on social media, trying to dox white supremacists," said Daniel Byman of the Brookings Institution.

READ MORE: Thousands march in US capital against racial injustice

Source: TRTWorld and agencies