Portland, OR – Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said he is working with the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) to come up with a new plan to bring an end to the six months of rioting that has decimated areas of the city.
Wheeler, who has repeatedly blamed law enforcement and the federal government for the violent uprisings, insisted that the rioters wreaking havoc on the city are not associated with Black Lives Matter or those demanding police reform and defunding, KOIN reported.
“I want to be clear. These are not protesters. They’re not supporting some just cause,” he said, according to KATU. “They’re vandals and they’re criminals, and they need to be arrested, and they need to be held accountable.”
Wheeler described the rioters as “mostly white young men coming together to break things,” KOIN reported.
He said they “pretend” to be acting in favor of a cause by tagging buildings with “Black Lives Matter” or “Trans Lives Matter” slogans.
“I directed the police chief to do everything he can to arrest these individuals,” Wheeler noted, adding that he also plans to bring together local prosecutors and judges to discuss the matter.
In the weeks and months that followed, city officials defunded the department by $15 million, eliminated three specialty police units, and repeatedly accosted officers for the ongoing violence.
Countless law enforcement officers have been attacked with fireworks, rocks, bricks, and various other projectiles during the nightly riots, leaving many officers injured.
Multiple law enforcement agencies have repeatedly refused to send their officers into harm’s way to help PPB unless Wheeler agrees to reverse the CS gas ban.
Furthermore, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt has refused to prosecute over 70 percent of the cases against rioters who have been charged for wreaking havoc in the downtown area since the mayhem began, according to the district attorney’s online Mass Demonstration/Protest Case Dashboard.
Schmidt’s office has moved forward with charges in just 14 percent of the cases referred to their office, while the remaining 16 percent remain under review.
Although reporting of the nightly riots in Portland has slowed considerably over the past several weeks, the riots themselves have not.
A total of 27 businesses and offices on Northeast Sandy Boulevard were vandalized on the night of Nov. 20 alone, the PPB said in a press release.
Rioters dressed in black and wearing helmets smashed out windows and plastered buildings with graffiti that night, to include targeting the Mexican Consulate located in the 1300-block of Southwest 12th Avenue, according to police.
A frightened cleaning crew inside a bank called police after the masked mob smashed in the bank’s windows and “began destroying” the building, the PPB said.
Rioters hurled a motorized scooter through the glass windows of another business.
The suspects all fled the area as police arrived, and no one has been arrested in connection with the dozens of vandalisms that were committed on Friday night, according to the PPB.
Wheeler said that those responsible for destroying the businesses “are an affront to our community,” but he did not provide any specific information regarding any plans he might have to bring the violence to an end, KOIN reported.
He said he will be speaking with PPB Chief Chuck Lovell to find out what changes police plan to make in order to stop the rioting, and that he will take those ideas to the city council for their consideration, according to KATU.
Wheeler told KOIN that prosecution is “the only thing that’s going to work here.”
“These guys are criminals and they need to be arrested and they need to be held accountable,” he declared, echoing what law enforcement supporters have been saying since the riots began.
Wheeler also argued that that reintroducing the use of CS gas to help police handle violent rioters “has nothing to do with this.”
Instead, law enforcement officers simply need to head criminals off before they begin damaging property, he told KOIN.
“This is about being there and arresting people as they engage in criminal activities,” Wheeler said. “I’m meeting with the chief and I’m asking, ‘What tools do you need? What resources do you need in order to be able to arrest these individuals and hold them accountable?’”
“We’re all sick and tired of waking up to the same news story about a bunch of individuals rampaging through the city,” the mayor complained.
PPB has been defunded by the city by $15 million so far this year, with city leaders pushing to defund them by another $18 million.