After President Donald Trump invoked Portland in his acceptance speech Thursday at the Republican National Convention, Mayor Ted Wheeler has officially fired back.
In an open letter released Friday, Wheeler criticized Trump’s divisive rhetoric, as well as his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and the federal government’s response to ongoing protests against police violence in Portland and elsewhere.
“We don’t need your politics of division and demagoguery. Portlanders are onto you. We have already seen your reckless disregard for human life in your bumbling response to the COVID pandemic,” Wheeler said in the letter. “And we know you’ve reached the conclusion that images of violence or vandalism are your only ticket to reelection.”
Trump, who has previously criticized the protests and leadership in Portland, claimed, without evidence, that Democratic nominee Joe Biden would defund police departments across the country if elected president, making “every city look like Democrat-run Portland, Oregon.”
Biden has not supported activists in their calls to defund police departments and has actually called for a $300 million investment in policing contingent on new diversity initiatives.
In his letter Friday, Wheeler offered support for the protests, calling them part of a “proud progressive tradition” in Portland. But the mayor also condemned some protesters’ actions, including the small amounts of damage done to city, federal and private-owned buildings in town.
“There is no place for looting, arson, or vandalism in our city. There is no room here for racist violence or those who wish to bring their ideology of hate into our community,” Wheeler said. “Those who commit criminal acts will be apprehended and prosecuted under the law.”
Portland Mayor sends spiteful, bitter letter to the President declining the federal government’s offer to help the city with additional resources. The mayor has stated elsewhere that he wants to wait out the riots & violent protests, which lasted for 93 days. https://t.co/7YJLeORrfv
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) August 28, 2020
Antifa and BLM are flashing strobe lights into @tedwheeler’s condo building in NW Portland. They’re also hosting a metal concert on the street, blocking the road. In the condo lobby, occupiers have chained themselves together demanding he resign. pic.twitter.com/pdP7CUzUnf
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) August 29, 2020
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) August 29, 2020
Wheeler and Portland police faced criticism this week following violent clashes that occurred last Saturday as right-wing protesters showed up downtown to face off against left-wing protesters who have been demonstrating for months. Police stood by as the two sides fought in the streets, tossing projectiles, unloading pepper spray and beating one another.
One right-wing protester, Alan Swinney, was photographed brandishing a gun, while another, Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, was seen clearly violating a court order to stay away from protests.
Portland police chief Chuck Lovell said he didn’t expect officers to recognize Toese in the crowd, and defended the lack of police response Saturday by saying that it was “difficult to weigh the risk versus reward” of breaking up the fight.
Wheeler, who is police commissioner and running for re-election, laid some blame for the unrest at President Trump’s feet, saying that by sending federal agents into the city and repeatedly attacking Portland protesters in his speeches, he’s only made the situation worse.
“In Portland, we are focused on coming together as a community to solve the serious challenges we face due to systemic racism, a global pandemic and an economic recession,” Wheeler said. “Stay away, please.”
You can read the full letter online.
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