We Need to Talk About Michael Reinoehl

The Federal Government extrajudicially killed a white man that believed in Black liberation.

Abby Shab
14 min readOct 22, 2020


Video credit: Vice News

Generally, I’m not inclined to sympathize with deadly white gun-toting vigilantes.

Rittenhouse and the growing bastion of Trump-style fascists aside, the prospect of a 48-year-old white soldier ally, with an unspecified military background and a big-ass Black Power fist tattooed on his neck, raises A LOT of questions for me. As an active Black radical in this year’s burgeoning revolution, the first question probably is, “if you’re not an infiltrator, what the fuck made you want to do this?

The second might be, “now, which one of his Black friends okayed that ink?” The fist has been used in myriad populist conflicts. But on an ostensibly straight American white man, it’s an odd first impression.

However, after thorough research, extended reflection, and overlooking the admittedly precarious gleam in his eye, I gotta say — especially since he’s dead now — Reinoehl’s case desperately deserves our attention.

But a question which You, the reader, might have is: “Tattoo or not, what does Michael Forrest Reinoehl, a white Portland man that self-identified as ‘100% ANTIFA’, have to do with Black Lives and Black liberation?”

Well, despite the blood on his hands and a storm of sordid details, I will tell you. To a certain Black radical on the front lines of this Movement, it means everything.

So now, finally, let’s talk about it.

First off.

As in all things, I speak as myself — Not for all Black people. Not for our nation-wide antiracist coalition. I know from experience that it’s important to clarify that up front for some people. But, now that that’s out of the way.

Portland, August 29th. Getty Images

Let’s start at the beginning.

On August 29th in Portland, Michael Reinoehl allegedly murdered Jay Danielson, a supporter of the far-right group, Patriot Prayer. The confrontation occurred in the evening after a near-apocalyptic invasion of bear-spraying and paintballing MAGA acolytes.

The circumstances surrounding the shooting are murky as fuck. But here is what we know:

  • Danielson and fellow Patriot Prayer supporter, Chandler Pappas, came to Portland for the rally that day and the pursuant anti-antifascist (so….fascist) caravan of flag-laden Trump trucks.
Pappas and a friend, who is believed to be Danielson, before the caravan
  • According to his friends, Michael Reinoehl drove to Portland that evening to provide protection for the anti-racist/anti-fascist demonstrators facing hoards of armed and executively enabled white nationalists.
  • Downtown at 8:45 pm, shouts rang out near a busy intersection, followed by the hiss of bear spray and two quick gunshots on top of them. Jay Danielson died at the scene.
  • 4chan-NY Post- You want my gun, come take it from me-types identified the shooter in the following hours as Michael Forrest Reinoehl. He fled the city. Though law enforcement was soon tipped off on his whereabouts by someone close to him.
The “counter-protestor” in the center, and the man who is quoted, was confirmed to be Chandler Pappas, Danielson’s partner
  • According to an unsealed affidavit completed by Det. Rico Beniga of the Portland Police department (PPD), Danielson’s can of bear spray and an extendable baton were found near his body in the moments after. On his person were a holstered Glock 17 and three fully-loaded 9mm magazines.

According to the first tweet above, Danielson and Pappas were only in Portland to ‘stop assaults’. Yet they declined to tell the journalist about their batons and the 76 rounds of deadly ammunition that we know at least one of them was carrying. And Pappas did not have the same tone three days earlier when he told a protestor that he “came here ready for war” and would “drop [them] on [their] fucking head”. (See second tweet)

Nor did Pappas seem peaceful when he allegedly said to an accomplice, “I’m ready to start killing these motherfuckers [protesters],” in leaked audio posted to Twitter by an anonymous hacktivist in the weeks prior. Though Pappas clarified he would settle for pranks in the meantime because the country “is just not ready for that yet.

Just not yet, he says… I suppose because Trump has him on stand by.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

If you watched the Vice video at the start of this article — the only source we have for Reinoehl’s perspective on that night, his last words to the world before the white American empire publicly chopped him down — then perhaps you see the source of my contention.

Both sides of the aisle have dismissed Reinoehl as a “violent anarchist”. Such is the narrative echoing from the American executive — Reinoehl supposedly “targeted” Danielson and Pappas for their Patriot Prayer hats and then shot the man in cold blood. The shooting has been sold as an assassination to many Americans ready to accept that the 48-year-old antifa soldier was simply a mad dog, and that his summary execution was cut-and-dry American justice.

But, naturally, the leftists are skeptical. And protesters in Portland and across the country aren’t quick to turn our backs on a man that claimed to be an ally.

While the MAGA acolytes celebrate their spotless martyr and demonize the man that took him, I feel the labels ascribed to Reinoehl resonating just a bit too much with those posthumously attached to murdered Black bodies.

They’re often the same labels that are falsely applied to myself and the dedicated comrades I’ve fought beside for the last five months:

Violent, Disturbed, Anarchist, Criminal, Agitator, Animal, Enemy of the State.

Let me be clear.

If a person stands for Black lives — white, Black, Brown, Indigenous, Queer, Etc. —whoever they are, if they stand for racial and social justice with their body and spirit, not just with empty words, then they are not what Americans need to fear. Period.

Having said that…

Michael Reinoehl/Facebook

Michael Reinoehl sold weed to, bought guns from, and allegedly drag raced with his children.

In the best case, that makes him the coolest dad in the fucking world. But in the worst case, to which reality may sadly fall closer, it makes him a drastically reckless and dangerous human being.

According to his sister, Reinoehl had been estranged from his family for three years after stealing their mother’s medication. In an interview with The Oregonian/OregonLive, she said after her brother’s death:

“I really had hoped he was in custody, because if he was out there, with his history of acting first and rationalizing later, odds were he was going to get himself killed.”

“There was no way that the Michael I knew would have gone quietly.”

But she was wrong. Reinoehl didn’t need to be “out there” to wind up dead before trial. On a calm afternoon, on a comfy suburban street, feet away from children playing and neighbors enjoying their lawns, federal agents launched the dramatic scene that Reinoehl’s sister was so afraid of. According to a NY Times report, 21 of 22 witnesses to Reinoehl’s shooting said that officers leapt out of speeding cars and began firing without any command or announcement.

One witness said they thought the confrontation was a road rage or gang-related incident, given the rapid brutality with which the officers gunned Michael down. The only weapon found on Mike’s person was a .380 handgun, still in his pocket after cops fired 37 bullets into his car, body, and throughout the surrounding domiciles.

American justice, indeed…

But, again, I’m getting ahead.

You won’t hear me say Reinoehl was a hero, not in the broad scope of his life. One thing this Movement deeply understands is that a “hero” in America is never perfect. Even the ones on the right side of history.

And, perhaps Jay Danielson didn’t need to die.

Still, you can say what you will. But strap yourselves in:

Because, in the last months of his life, Michael Reinoehl did so much more for Black lives than the motherfuckers blacking out their profile pics, skipping to the ballot box, waiting patiently for Joe Biden to bring the country back to normal. If you’re white and that idea hurts your feelings — then let it hurt your feelings.

Michael Reinoehl was not a mad dog. And any “decent American” ready to put Reinoehl and Kyle Rittenhouse on the same coin are doing a vile disservice to the cause that I, and thousands like me, are STILL fighting for.

Yes, Reinoehl and Rittenhouse were both reckless white boys. But one was the product of militant white reactionism — a truck-driving, tiki-torching, gun-toting zeitgeist of wounded pride, patched up with the echoes of Confederate hypocrisy and the sick delusions of the Third Reich — while the other was a man wishing for the liberation of people that looked nothing like him.

Michael Reinoehl didn’t need a hashtag to show he understood the need for racial justice. He had the scars to prove it:

Despite the fact that he seems fucked up in this video, Reinoehl’s words still say more to me than anything Joe Biden has said his entire career — at least on the topic of racial justice. Repeatedly putting his body on the line for Black lives, in spite of pervasive state-sanctioned danger, with stalwart regard for the fundamental necessity of BIPOC liberation, is something no president in history can claim. And that desperately deserves to be recognized.

In the video, Reinoehl says:

“I have my daughter here with me because I’m trying to give her an education. Because the fact is that she’s gonna be contributing to this new country that we’re fighting for. And she’s gonna learn everything on the street. Not from what people have said.”

I could not agree more.

And You, the reader, will not be prepared for the change that is coming unless you learn from the streets as well.

The streets are telling you — for the love of God — please stop giving white supremacists the benefit of the doubt.

Timothy Ryerson, an Oregonian bounty hunter and one of the witnesses cited in the affidavit that lead to Reinoehl’s death. (Instagram/Komo_The_Malamute)

A young man is dead. Yes, that is a tragedy.

But, I am nowhere near convinced that Reinoehl was guilty of wanton assassination. The (white) Devil is in the details. And the details do not say that Chandler Pappas and Danielson were simply minding their business that night.

Let’s look at more facts. There are some things I’d like to point out. And bear in mind — All Cops Are Bad:

Det. Beniga (#36906) states, “after the first gun shot is heard, an explosion of what appears to be a gaseous substance occurs, which is quickly followed by a second gunshot.” The chronology of the shots and the release of bear spray is a vital contention in determining who was the primary aggressor that night. The main video cited in the affidavit came from Justin Dunlap, a left-leaning live streamer from Portland. Beniga implies that Danielson’s can of bear spray was struck by Reinoehl’s first bullet, and that is why we see a cloud coming from Danielson in the Dunlap video.

But then why do all four witnesses that were interviewed at the scene say Danielson drew first? Why do three of them say they heard the hiss of bear spray before the first shot? And why might the detective lie, when the slow-motion video clearly shows that the spray came before the gunfire?

Enhanced Dunlap Video

However, if I’m honest, the chronology is really not that important to me.

Whether Reinoehl thought the bear spray was a gun being pulled or not, far more crucial is the behavior that lead up to the split second stand-off. Having said that, here’s another completely rhetorical question:

Why is there little to no mention of the distinct screams that we hear in the Dunlap video before we get any decipherable words? Is there any sign of an altercation that might cause an antifa security volunteer to turn his eyes and trigger finger in that direction?

One witness told police they saw Reinoehl and a male person of color peak at Danielson and Pappas from a parking garage, before stepping out to trail them. Sounds sinister when you put it that way.

But security cam footage cited in the affidavit shows that Pappas and Danielson strolled past Reinoehl visibly clutching extendable batons and bear spray at the ready. If one saw the MAGA invasion only a few hours earlier, they might be warry of two renegade white boys with weapons in their hands and, to a trained eye, a Glock and 76 rounds of ammunition in their pockets.

Another witness, and coincidental fascist collaborator, is Timothy Ryerson (photographed above). The ostensibly washed out white 50-year-old decided one day that it might just be fun to professionally hunt human beings. He is a supporter of Patriot Prayer and actually knew Danielson. An antifa comrade on Twitter recently confirmed that Ryerson is still knee deep in gun-toting, pipe-dreaming, Trump-loving white supremacist malfeasance. But what’s important to us now is that Ryerson told police that, from a group of three Black men, one was the “primary aggressor” and shouted “we’re going to fucking kill you”.

But where is that in the video?

This live streamer, Nate Milsap, a right-leaning street journalist, was closer to the shooting than Dunlap was. We clearly hear the first raised voices come from (at least) one person screaming “no” or “whoa” at the top of their lungs. In the affidavit, this is barely mentioned at all. Only after those shouts does someone, perhaps Reinoehl’s comrade, yell “we got some right here.” And then what sounds like the same man says plainly, “he’s macing you, he’s pulling it out” before the hiss and gunfire.

We don’t know who let out those initial screams. It could have been Danielson, Pappas, or perhaps a third party.

But in four interviews I’ve found of him, Chandler Pappas can’t seem to explain the screaming either. Not in his first YouTube exclusive, filmed less than 24 hours after his friend’s death. No mention of it in his feature with Fucker Carlson. Nor in his casual explanation to friends at a rally days later.

And not in this video, where — as he’s faced with the questions, “why was Jay targeted? Did something happen between him and the shooter?” — Pappas visibly shits his pants and appears to obfuscate that he and Danielson had been drinking that night:

Pappas story begins when someone shouts “we got a couple right here” and “pull it out, pull it out.” While the first quote is close enough, the second seems to be a distortion of, “he’s macing you, he’s pulling it out,” which we hear in the Milsap video just before the shots.

However, the story should start with whatever caused a man to scream first, and what prompted antifa security agents to divert their attention.

There is a single reference to what Pappas and Danielson were doing prior to the shooting. And it comes from Pappas himself in a recorded interview with police the night of the shooting. Though all the public has to review is a crudely summarized account which Beniga gives in the affidavit. The detective writes:

“Pappas stated he and ‘Jay’ had been drinking earlier in the evening and had gone to the downtown area to see what was going on… Pappas said he and ‘Jay’ turned back toward the intersection of SW 3rd Avenue and SW Alder Street and recalled seeing two subjects. Pappas said he and ‘Jay’ were facing off with the two subjects. Pappas said he then heard two gun shots…stating, ‘It was the guy on the fucking right who fired.’”

No mention of the screams before the man called out “we got some.” Only a passing reference to a ‘face off’ with two subjects.

To be clear, with this article, I do not posit any certainties. My goal is to underscore the imperative need for skepticism of white narratives in the struggle for Black liberation — in this war for America’s soul.

It is not clear that the two subjects in the ‘face off’ were Reinoehl and his comrade in black. It’s also not clear what is meant by ‘face off’. But Pappas has said repeatedly that he didn’t have time to register that his assailant had a gun until it fired. So, it seems, either the face off Pappas/Beniga refer to lasted only a second, or what Pappas described in the interview was with another party. I can’t say for sure.

But watch Pappas on the left edge of the screen, talking to an officer, in the white:

One more rhetorical question:

Why would a guiltless man sprint away from police after his partner was murdered JUST for being a cap-wearing American supporter of the (bitch) boys in blue?

No certainties. Just questions.

I’m not inclined to sympathize with deadly white gun-toting vigilantes.

But the American future desperately needs allies willing to put it all on the line for people of color. And, perhaps more importantly, we need white allies to realize that being on the right side of history takes more than words and silent resolutions.

Mike Reinoehl

Reinoehl killed a man who had his gun still in its holster. Since their inception, American police have shown the same deadly disregard to BIPOC in America.

The Revolution will be better because that is how we will win. Reinoehl was not a hero. But he was a soldier.

America’s racial reckoning will only end after white allies learn that solidarity means you fight for us. White solidarity isn’t the only key to this revolution. America’s better future must be lead by people of color. And if fascism is allowed to thrive in the next few months, I desperately fear we will need more white allies ready to stand in bullet proof-vests, prepared for the worst, beside their siblings/leaders of color.

Read these words. They are not mine, but I believe them:

Every Revolution needs people that are willing and ready to fight. There are so many of us protesters that are just protesting without a clue of where that will lead. That’s just the beginning that’s where the fight starts.

If that’s as far as you can take it, thank you for your participation, but please stand aside and support the ones that are willing to fight. I am 100% ANTIFA all the way! I am willing to fight for my brothers and sisters! Even if some of them are too ignorant to realize what antifa truly stands for.

We do not want violence but we will not run from it either! If the police continue to pick on and beat up innocent citizens that are peacefully voicing their objections, it must be met with equal force! We are currently living through a crucial point in Humanity’s evolution. We truly have an opportunity right now to fix everything. But it will be a fight like no other!

It will be a war and like all wars there will be casualties. I was in the army and I hated it. I did not feel like fighting for them would ever be a good cause. Today’s protesters and antifa are my brothers in arms. This is a Cause to fight for

This truly is fighting for my country! I have children that need to live in a world run by Common Sense and human decency. And I will do anything to make sure that happens. Now is the time to change the course of humanity. If we fold now just because they show some Force we will be lost for another hundred years. And I don’t think the planet will let us live that long if we don’t straighten shit up.

Please be safe strong and United. I love you all❤️💪🙏
#Antifa #blacklivesmatter #fuckthepolice


by Mike Reinoehl



Abby Shab

Radical activist of color working to thrive & imagine a better world. I hope we can grow through honest exchange & fearless reflection. Black Lives Matter