Portland Mayor (D) Ted Wheeler attempted to persuade rioters to stop destroying the city by warning vandals that they are a “prop for the reelection campaign” of President Donald Trump. The Democratic mayor also lashed out at insurgents who tried to burn down a police station in residential Portland, and accused them of “attempting to commit murder.”
Wheeler held a virtual press conference on Thursday to discuss this week’s bedlam in the city, which included protesters verbally abusing two elderly women and splashing paint on one of the women.
“Don’t think for a moment that you are if you are participating in this activity, you are not being a prop for the reelection campaign of Donald Trump — because you absolutely are,” Wheeler said. “You are creating the B-roll film that will be used in ads nationally to help Donald Trump during this campaign. If you don’t want to be part of that, then don’t show up.”
Last weekend, some protesters burned Bibles and American flags in Portland, which didn’t help the optics of the demonstrations in Oregon’s most-populated city.
Wheeler also addressed Wednesday night’s attack in the residential East Precinct, where rioters attempted to burn down the police station while there were over 20 law enforcement members and civilians were inside.
“When you commit arson with an accelerant in an attempt to burn down a building that is occupied by people who you have intentionally trapped inside, you are not demonstrating, you are attempting to commit murder,” Wheeler said.
“I believe that city staff could have died last night,” Wheeler said. “I cannot and I will not tolerate that. This is not peaceful protests. This is not advocacy to advance reforms.”
Portland Police said that a truck also attempted to run over officers on Wednesday night.
“We anticipate additional planned attacks on occupied public buildings over the next few days. If you are a nonviolent demonstrator and you don’t want to be part of intentional violence, please stay away from these areas,” Wheeler advised. “Our community must say that this violence is not Portland, that these actions do not reflect our values and these crimes are distracting from reform, not advancing.”
Wheeler attempted to talk directly with protesters and rioters on Portland’s streets in late July, but it wasn’t well-received. Some people in the crowd tossed objects at him, while others called for his resignation. The crowd became unruly and federal officers deployed tear gas into the masses, also hitting Wheeler.
Wheeler has opposed Trump, especially when the president sent federal officers to Portland to protect the federal courthouse in the city.
Wheeler admitted that the city has experienced “record gun violence” and “historic levels of violence.” One report, found that July was the deadliest one-month period for Portland in more than 30 years.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Police Chief Chuck Lovell address Portland protests
On Wednesday, Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell lambasted rioters, noting that they have “taken away from” the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Portlanders need to send a strong message that enough is enough,” Lovell told reporters during a press conference. “This is not forwarding the goals that are going to lead to better outcomes for people of color. This movement is really powerful, but the violence has taken away from it. … This is not what Portland is about. This is not what we need in our city.”
Portland has experienced 70 nights of protests since the death of George Floyd, prompting Lovell to say that he’s “never seen a summer like this.”