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Portland Mayor Tear-Gassed While Standing In Solidarity With Rioters

Portland, OR – Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler strapped on his goggles and joined up with rioters outside the federal courthouse in downtown Portland on Wednesday night.

Wheeler attended the July 22 gathering after a Portland Tribune editorial urged him and other lawmakers to show up to listen to the so-called “protesters” demands in person, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

“Let the protesters yell at you,” the editorial read, according to the news outlet. “Let them swear. Let them chant.”

Wheeler, flanked by his security team, was greeted by chants of “F–k Ted Wheeler,” which continued throughout the night, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Cell phone footage showed the mayor being confronted by protesters as soon as he arrived in the area.

“What are you going to do about qualified immunity?” one member of the group barked at him.

“We’re trying to change it,” Wheeler meekly responded.

The group swarmed around him as another demonstrator suddenly rushed up and dumped a bag of apparent garbage on the ground at his feet, causing the mayor to halt in his tracks, the video showed.

The items were allegedly munitions that had been fired at the crowd by federal officers, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

Other members of the group told the man to stop and ushered Wheeler around the pile, the video showed.

“Don’t touch him – he came out here,” one person yelled. “He’s late, but he’s here!”

Another video showed the crowd booing and taunting the mayor as he tried to respond to their onslaught of questions and demands.

“Your house next!” someone hollered at him. “Get the f–k out!”

Wheeler later addressed the crowd of thousands from the steps of the Justice Center using a bullhorn, The New York Times reported.

The rally was organized by Black Lives Matter, who invited him to speak, according to The Oregonian.

During his brief speech, Wheeler vowed that he would stand with the mob “no matter what,” video footage showed.

“If they launch the tear gas against you, they are launching the tear gas against me,” Wheeler said.

The mayor denounced federal officers’ presence in the city of Portland, and reiterated that “they were not asked to be here.”

“They’re not wanted here,” Wheeler declared. “They’re not properly trained to be here, and we are asking them right this minute, we’re demanding that they leave! We demand that the federal government stop occupying our city!”

As the mayor spoke, a list of the rioters’ demands was projected onto a nearby building, The Oregonian reported.

The final item on the list was a demand that Wheeler resign.

One woman told Wheeler that he needed to order the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) to fight alongside the rioters against the federal officers, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

“We need you to turn your team around,” she declared. “We need your team to join our team. I need you to get your whole team to stand here and do this with us.”

Another member of the group told the mayor that he either needed to join their side in the fight or “get out of the way,” Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

“Ted, you’re the mayor. You’re in charge. We’re fighting out here, and you’re not,” he said. “We need you to help us or get out of the way…If you don’t, it’s going to be four more years of hell. It’s going to be four more years of this. We’re going to be out here every night.”

Wheeler continued chatting with members of the crowd as rioters launched fireworks at the federal courthouse less than a block away, another video showed.

When the mob demanded that he join them on the front lines outside the courthouse, he headed right on over.

Additional footage showed him standing directly in front of the fence that had been erected around the heavily-vandalized federal courthouse building.

“Welcome to the party!” one rioter screamed as flashes and smoke began filling the air. “What are you gonna do?”

Wheeler strapped on his goggles and stood idly by as rioters began violently shaking the protective fence just feet away from where he was standing, another video showed.

“Get the f–k out here!” one rioter yelled at the federal officers. “We f–king hate you!”

Wheeler was nearly hit by a flying object thrown by a rioter at one point during the night, and rioters used leaf blowers to blast air at him at other times, the videos showed.

The mayor squeezed his eyes shut and tried to use his hand to shield himself from tear gas deployed by federal officers, another video showed.

“How is that?” someone asked him as his handlers whisked him away.

“F–k you, Ted!” another rioter screamed when Wheeler and his security detail ducked into a nearby building.

Wheeler told The New York Times that the tear gas “stings,” and made it “hard to breathe.”

“I can tell you with 100 percent honesty – I saw nothing that provoked this response,” he claimed in another video. “It’s nasty stuff. I’m not afraid, but I am pissed off. This is an egregious overreaction on the part of the federal officers.”

According to the city’s own police officers, rioters threw Molotov cocktails and hundreds of other projectiles at the federal courthouse during the night, The Oregonian reported.

They set fires in various areas around the downtown area, and some members of the crowd breached the fence around the federal courthouse, police said.

Wheeler blamed the federal officers for the situation, and said they came in and “kicked a hornets’ nest.”

“This is not a de-escalation strategy,” the mayor opined. “This is flat-out urban warfare, and its being brought on the people of this country by the President of the United States.”

The PPB declared the situation a riot at approximately 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, ABC News reported.

Thousands of rioters remained despite police issuing at least seven more warnings from a sound truck.

Rioters have attacked police, vandalized buildings, looted businesses, destroyed historical landmarks, and ignited fires throughout the downtown area on a nightly basis for nearly two months.

“These individuals are organized, and they have one mission in mind – to burn down or to cause extreme damage to the federal courthouse and to law enforcement officers,” DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said during a press conference on Tuesday.

“At times, we also see them targeting city property,” Wolf added.

He noted that the rioters congregate in the same area “night after night,” and that officers can see them planning their various attacks.

“And yet, the city of Portland takes little-to-no action to stop or disperse this crowd,” Wolf said. “These individuals carry lasers, baseball bats, explosive fireworks, metal pipes, glass bottles, accelerants, and other weapons – all targeting federal facilities and federal law enforcement – and yet, the city of Portland takes little-to-no action.”

The Portland City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to immediately ban PPB employees from cooperating with federal law enforcement, The Oregonian reported.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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