Portland, OR – After months of violent rioting with no end in sight, newly re-elected Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said Antifa has left him with no option but to crack down on them.
The befuddled mayor has repeatedly coddled the violent mobs since they began destroying sections of the city and attacking police and public buildings over seven months ago, resulting in millions in damages.
The mayhem continued unabated on New Year’s Eve, when rioters busted into two Starbucks coffee shops, multiple jewelry stores, a Chase Bank, the Portland Wine Company, and the Pacific Building, the Portland Police Bureau said in a press release on Jan. 1.
The department noted this was not “an exhaustive list” of all the locations that were vandalized and looted that night.
“At least two Molotov cocktail-style firebombs were thrown, and large, commercial grade aerial fireworks were launched at the Federal Courthouse and the Justice Center,” the PPB said.
The mob tried to use tools to break into the Justice Center, but failed, according to police.
Officers from multiple agencies “were targeted with dangerous projectiles” while trying to quell the chaos, including “large rocks, full size bricks, and frozen water bottles,” the PPB noted.
“Some officers were targeted by paint balloons that may have been laced with a caustic substance as it caused burning to the skin,” the department added.
Rioters torched a crosswalk signal, ignited various piles of debris, and set a garbage can ablaze until it ultimately melted onto the pavement, according to police.
Wheeler complained during a press conference on New Year’s Day that Antifa hasn’t been cooperating with him, even though he’s been lenient with them as they’ve destroyed swaths of the city and left businesses in financial ruin.
“My good faith efforts at de-escalation have been met with ongoing violence and even scorn from radical Antifa and anarchists,” Wheeler lamented, according to the New York Post.
Although he’s threatened to get tough with the rioters in the past, this time he plans to follow through, he said.
“It will be necessary to use additional tools and to push the limits of the tools we already have to bring the criminal destruction and violence to an end,” the mayor conceded. “It’s time to push back harder against those who are set on destroying our community and to take more risks in fighting lawlessness.”
He proceeded to call on federal, state, county and local law enforcement officers “to convene” with him “to develop clear plans to address anarchist violence.”
“This should happen as soon as possible,” Wheeler added.
The mayor further urged the state legislature to increase penalties for repeat offenders – even as the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office refuses to prosecute cases it is perfectly capable of charging.
One of the new ideas Wheeler provided regarding his latest plot to stop Antifa from retaining its grip on the city is to propose requiring criminals convicted of damaging property and riot-related offenses to meet with property owners.
“These people need to hear and to understand the social and human consequences of their irresponsible actions,” the mayor said.
They should also be required to clean up litter and graffiti, he added, describing a program that sounds much like community service.
Wheeler issued a similar statement in November, when he assured residents that he and the PPB were formulating a brand-new plan to bring the rioting to an end.
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 back in November, adding that he also planned 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 73 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.
Just last month, Wheeler publicly apologized to a group of so-called sovereign citizens who refused to leave the foreclosed “Red House on Mississippi” home that protesters had turned into an “autonomous zone,” and agreed not to force them out of the residence while the city continues to work a tentative deal with them.
Protesters had been camping in the yard of a home in the 4400-block of North Mississippi Avenue in North Portland since September of 2020 to try to keep the new owners of the property from taking possession of it, The Oregonian reported.
The Portland Police Bureau said its officers joined Multnomah County sheriff’s deputies at about 5 a.m. on Dec. 8 for a “property mission” to return private property and “re-secure a home in which the occupants were previously ordered removed by court order,” according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Officers were met by more than 100 protesters who smashed the windows of police cars and threw rocks at them.
Law enforcement retreated temporarily and protesters used that time to repurpose fencing and other construction supplies bought by the new owners for their own barricades.
They also created stacks of rocks and other projectiles to have handy to throw at officers upon their return.
When the officers returned to remove the squatters, protesters threw rocks at them and one person sprayed a fire extinguisher at them, prompting an officer to deploy less-lethal munitions, The Oregonian reported.
Police appeared to have given up by 10:30 a.m. and demonstrators repurposed the new fence built by the new owners earlier in the day into a barricade to keep the authorities out.
“This was a devastating action that was taken,” Julie Metcalf Kinney told Oregon Public Broadcasting after the attempted eviction. “The sheriffs came in and devastated everything again. The tactics that are used to do this are beyond despicable.”
Portland police said they received more than 80 complaints from neighbors about the protesters camping in the yard between September and November, The Oregonian reported.
Officers have had to respond to the “Red House on Mississippi” for calls about fights, shots fired, noise complaints, and threats.
Wheeler released a series of tweets the night of Dec. 8, announcing that the new “autonomous zone” would not be permitted.
“I am authorizing the Portland Police to use all lawful means to end the illegal occupation on North Mississippi Avenue and to hold those violating our community’s laws accountable,” he declared at the time. “There will be no autonomous zone in Portland.”
Wheeler noted that there must be “significant reform” to address the nation’s many “fundamentally racist” systems and structures, but said occupying private property is not an effective solution.
The mayor explained that the eviction was “a lawful judge’s order” resulting from a “lengthy, thorough judicial proceeding.”
“It’s time for the encampment and occupation to end,” he concluded. “There are many ways to protest and work toward needed reform. Illegally occupying private property, openly carrying weapons, threatening and intimidating people are not among them.”
But Wheeler soon backed down once again.
The mayor and Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Chief Chuck Lovell sent a letter to the family apologizing for the statements they had made earlier in the week, and said those statements had resulted in the former homeowners being subjected to threats.
“We apologize and understand that following our tweets earlier this week that your family received threats,” the document read, according to The Oregonian. “We did not intend to attract attention that results in threats of harm and violence to your family or that escalated tensions in our community.”
“Nobody should be subjected to this kind of stress and harm, and we apologize for the role our tweets played in this,” they wrote.
Wheeler and Chief Lovell further noted that the city will help support the family in finding legal representation and temporary housing, but they did not specify how the illegal occupation will be handled moving forward.