After nearly a year’s worth of rioting and violence that has led to at least one high-profile murder, Portland’s Democratic mayor, Ted Wheeler, is appealing to residents of his city to help stop the endless protests that have been largely led by the anarchist group Antifa.
In remarks reported by KGW News, Wheeler appeared to praise the guilty verdict earlier this week against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd whose death triggered riots and looting that continued for the remainder of the year and into 2021.
“They want to burn, they want to bash, they want to intimidate, they want to assault,” Wheeler said Friday, adding that he would extend a current state of emergency in the city until Monday.
“If BLM leaders can show the courage to stand up to this mob, then we all should,” he said, singling out the “the self-described anarchist mob” he blamed for most of the “criminal intimidation and violence.”
“Together we can make a stand … and take our city back.”
(Video: KGW News)
Violence rocked Portland again this week, resulting in a bike patrol police officer getting sucker-punched by a black-clad assailant who was himself taken down and pummeled by the same officer and others.
As for Wheeler, he appealed to the public to help police identify those who commit violence while adding that cops will be empowered to use any and all tactics they possess to put an end to the violence. That will include a tactic known as “kettling,” whereby a group of officers surround a violent crowd to contain them.
“Our job is to unmask them, arrest them and prosecute them,” the mayor said regarding violent offenders “If you have any information, please contact the police.”
A week ago, another riot erupted in a portion of the downtown area resulting in multiple fires being set and damage to a church and some storefronts, Oregon Live reported.
In addition, several shots were fired from a vehicle about a block away from a group of protesters, but no one was injured, according to the report.
“Our community has made it clear that it will not tolerate wanton violence and destruction,” Acting Chief Chris Davis said in a statement following the riot.
“None of this destruction tonight has anything to do with the important work of racial justice and reconciliation our community and our nation need at this critical time in our history,” he added.
Some rioters broke windows at the Oregon Historical Society, which has been attacked before. Also, police said protesters caused damage to the First Christian Church nearby even though the house of worship feeds homeless people and welcomes LGBTQ individuals.
As in the past, the riot drained police resources for a time, leaving no officers available to answer other emergency calls. In all, Oregon Live reported, 79 calls during the April 16 riot were outstanding, including a hit-and-run, a report of shots fired, and burglaries.
“Police resources were stretched across the City to manage the calls for emergency calls for service and the riot,” the Portland Police Bureau said in its statement.
In January, Wheeler finally admitted that his appeasement approach to rioters was not successful.
“My good faith efforts at de-escalation have been met with ongoing violence and even scorn from radical Antifa and anarchists,” he said at the time.
“In response, it will be necessary to use additional tools and push the limits of the tools we already have to bring the criminal destruction and violence to an end,” he added.
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