The mayor of Oregon’s city of Portland, Ted Wheeler, on Friday blasted US President Donald Trump’s “politics of division and demagoguery” and rejected the president’s offer to send federal law enforcement personnel to quell ongoing anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests, which have turned in many incidents into riots and violence between demonstrators and police.
In a Friday letter to Trump, Wheeler said that the city would reject the president's offer of sending federal agents because city residents now understand that the POTUS has a “reckless disregard for human life” and that “images of violence or vandalism are your only ticket” to reelection in the 3 November presidential vote.
“Yet again, you said you offered to aid Portland by sending in federal law enforcement to our city. On behalf of the City of Portland: No thanks,” Wheeler told Trump. “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. And we know you've reached the conclusion that images of violence or vandalism are your only ticket to reelection.”
In the past weeks, Trump sent federal law enforcement personnel to Portland following attacks on a federal courthouse, but, following widespread outcry, the forces were later pulled out of the city and the job was handed back to local police. As the protests have continued to include some incidents of violence following the withdrawal of federal agents, the president on Friday renewed the offer to send them in again.
“When you sent the Feds to Portland last month, you made the situation far worse. Your offer to repeat that disaster is a cynical attempt to stoke fear and distract us from the real work of our city,” the mayor wrote. “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. Stay away, please.”
Earlier on Friday, commenting on a US court of appeals decision to block an injunction entered by a federal district court in Portland regarding attacks by rioters on the city's federal courthouse, US Attorney General William Barr declared that Portland leadership had “neutered the ability of the police department” to deal with rioting in the city.
“The Portland city government has the ability to stop this. Instead, the city government has abetted the violence through action and inaction, neutered the ability of the police department to deal with the mobs, impeded the ability of police to coordinate with federal law enforcement, and refused to pursue charges against the rioters,” Barr said in a statement.
Statement from Attorney General William P. Barr on the Ninth Circuit's Stay in the Case Concerning the Federal Courthouse in Portland https://t.co/NTBIrMcKxu— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) August 28, 2020
The Democratic mayor responded that demonstrators in Portland “have peacefully protested” and marched for “the noble cause” of achieving racial, economic and environmental justice, pointing out that those behind incidents of looting, arson, or vandalism “will be apprehended and prosecuted under the law”.
“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. Those who commit criminal acts will be apprehended and prosecuted under the law,” Wheeler said.
Protests in Portland were triggered, in part, by the 25 May killing of African-American man George Floyd by white police officers in Minneapolis. The incident ignited nationwide protests across the United States, as well as in many major urban centers around the globe.