Portland’s mayor has slammed protesters for ‘attempting to commit murder’ and says they are going to be used as ‘props’ in President Trump‘s reelection campaign as violent clashes between demonstrators and police continued for the 71st night.
Mayor Ted Wheeler, who as recently as last month joined protesters on the streets of downtown Portland, on Thursday decried the unrest that has roiled the city in the months since George Floyd‘s death.
In a hastily called virtual news conference alongside Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell, Wheeler condemned protesters for setting fire to the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct building while officers were still inside on Wednesday night.
‘When you commit arson with an accelerant in an attempt to burn down a building that is occupied by people who you have intentionally trapped inside, you are not demonstrating, you are attempting to commit murder,’ Wheeler said.
‘I believe that city staff could have died last night. I cannot and I will not tolerate that. This is not peaceful protests. This is not advocacy to advance reforms.
Mayor Ted Wheeler condemned protesters for setting fire to the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct building (above) while officers were still inside on Wednesday night
Wheeler said the fire the protesters set outside the precinct showed they were not demonstrating, but trying to commit murder instead
‘Don’t think for a moment that if you are participating in this activity, you are not being a prop for the reelection campaign of Donald Trump – because you absolutely are.
‘If you don’t want to be part of that, then don’t show up.’
Mayor Ted Wheeler, who as recently as last month joined protesters on the streets of downtown Portland, on Thursday decried the unrest that has roiled the city for the 71st straight night
Chief Lovell had earlier said the violent protesters were ‘dedicated to just provoking a police response’ and draining resources.
Lovell, who is black, said the violent events were not ‘forwarding the goals’ of the Black Lives Matter movement.
‘This is not forwarding the goals of things that are going to lead to better outcomes for people of color,’ he said. ‘This movement is very powerful and I feel like the violence has taken away from it in a really kind of concerning way.
‘I think it’s really dependent on Portland as a community to really say we’re not going to tolerate this.’
Police have arrested more than 400 people since late May and US agents arrested at least 94 people on federal charges throughout July.
Hours after Wheeler and Lovell decried the unrest, more demonstrations took place across the city and police shut down the streets surrounding a precinct.
Portland police declared an unlawful assembly outside a precinct and protesters were ordered to leave. They had said earlier that they believed the intent of the crowd was to vandalize and burn the precinct.
Police have arrested more than 400 people since late May and US agents arrested at least 94 people on federal charges throughout July
Hours after Wheeler and Lovell decried the unrest, more demonstrations took place across the city and police shut down the streets surrounding a precinct
More demonstrations took place across the city and police shut down the streets surrounding a precinct overnight on Thursday. Police said this woman had paint thrown over her by protesters as she tried to stand guard outside a police precinct
Officers worked to clear streets near the precinct of demonstrators, at times running at the crowd to push people away.
Smoke canisters were also deployed.
Portland police said some demonstrators in the group laid ties made of rebar in the street that caused damage to police vehicles.
The Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front, which advertised the Wednesday rally on social media, used Twitter to announce ‘Round 2’ of the same demonstration on Thursday night with the slogan ‘No cops. No prisons. Total abolition’.
The group, which described itself as a ‘decentralized network of autonomous youth collectives dedicated to direct action towards total liberation,’ did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The clashes between thousands of protesters and US agents sent by the Trump administration to guard the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse stopped after an agreement between Democratic Gov. Kate Brown and the Department of Homeland Security that called for the agents to begin drawing down their presence in Portland’s downtown on July 30.
But after a brief weekend reprieve, protest activity has continued nightly in other parts of the city, with Portland police, local sheriff´s deputies and, in some cases, Oregon State Police troopers on the frontlines as demonstrators demand an end to police funding.
Wednesday night’s activity was in a residential neighborhood 6 miles away from the federal courthouse.
Wheeler’s comments decrying the violence came after he joined protesters on the streets of downtown Portland as recently as last month
Wheeler was among those teargassed by police when a protest turned violent on July 22
Protesters on Wednesday gathered outside a police precinct and shined lasers in officers’ eyes, disabled exterior security cameras, broke windows and used boards pulled from the building to barricade the doors and start a fire, authorities said.
There were 20 sworn officers inside, as well as civilian employees, said Capt. Tony Passadore, who was the incident commander.
Police used tear gas for the first time since federal agents pulled back last week.
‘I don’t want people to get confused to think that this was something related to Black Lives Matter,’ Passadore said of the precinct rally.
‘I’ve been the incident commander for 24 nights of the 70-plus events, and I’ve seen amazing protesting going on in the city of Portland where people gather together.’
It was at least the third time since protests broke out in the city in late May that smaller crowds have targeted police precincts with barricades and fire.
A precinct in North Portland, a historically black neighborhood, the downtown police headquarters and the police union headquarters have also all been focal points for demonstrators who are calling for the defunding of the Portland police.
Protests have gone on unabated in Portland since May 25 following the death of Floyd who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pinned him by the neck for nearly eight minutes.
In Portland, the civil disobedience prompted Trump to send federal agents to guard the federal courthouse, which was increasingly targeted in demonstrations that often turned violent.
It was a move intended to quell the unrest but the presence of federal agents instead reinvigorated demonstrators and created a focal point for the protests each night amid concerns that Trump was overstepping the limits of federal police powers.
A riot was declared early Wednesday during demonstrations in Portland after authorities said people set fires and barricaded public roadways
A waste receptacle is set on fire near the Portland Police Association building during a protest in Portland this week during violent protests
Heavily armed police gather during a protest in Portland on Tuesday night. Protests have taken place across the city every night since May
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