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Portland mayor tear-gassed by federal officers, warns 'somebody's going to die' during chaotic protests

Mayor Ted Wheeler was tear-gassed by federal officers along with a large crowd of protesters late Wednesday night after he tried for hours to calm down angry activists demanding police reform from City Hall and calling for federal authorities to withdraw from this mostly liberal, mostly white city. 
The mayor was caught in a chaotic display of violence and mayhem that began around 11:15 p.m., after some protesters threw flaming bags of garbage over a fence protecting the local federal courthouse, prompting the federal officers to fire tear gas at the crowd.
Wheeler had spent many hours in the thick of the protest, attempting to answer questions from the crowd, which booed and jeered as he tried to explain a lengthy process for making reforms. At one point, he acknowledged that he's a "white, privileged male."
"Obviously we have a long way to go," Wheeler said. "Everyone here has a job to do, all of us."
A man with an American flag walks past an exploding firework detonating within a fenced-off compound erected by contractors to protect the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, on July 22, 2020.
Before the crowd was tear-gassed, Wheeler huddled with local leaders of the Black Lives Matter social justice movement who demanded he move more quickly to reform the police department.
Some activists said they were worried the fight over federal agents was overshadowing their demands for local reforms, and vowed to keep the pressure on Wheeler and Portland city officials. One white mother pointed out that Wheeler only showed up to the protests after other white mothers attending the demonstrations over the weekend were tear-gassed.
"Enough is enough," the crowd chanted. "Enough is enough."
Thousands of protesters alternately booed and interrogated Wheeler after hundreds of mothers dubbed "the Wall of Moms" led a march downtown against police brutality. Many protesters also carried signs demanding the withdrawal of federal agents dispatched last week by President Donald Trump over the objection of Wheeler and other local officials.
“It’s hard to breathe, it’s a lot harder to breathe than I thought,” Wheeler told The Washington Post after he was tear-gassed. “This is abhorrent. This is beneath us.”
Norma Lewis holds a flower while forming a "wall of moms" during a Black Lives Matter protest on Monday, July 20, 2020, in Portland, Oregon.
While Trump said he sent federal law enforcement officers in to restore order, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said federal agents were in Portland primarily to protect federal buildings like the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse, which had become a target for protesters. 
Contractors on Wednesday surrounded the building with a tall metal-and-concrete fence, and prosecutors warned that anyone who breached it would be arrested. In court files, federal officials say protesters had inflicted more than $50,000 in damage to federal buildings in Portland, including tearing down security cameras and shattering glass doors.
Tai Carpenter, the board president of Don’t Shoot PDX, a Portland-based social justice nonprofit, said the vast majority of protesters were simply exercising their First Amendment rights. She called the federal response disproportionate.
A person in a hammer-and-sickle T-shirt emblem of the Communist Soviet Union confronts federal agents on Tuesday, July 21, 2020, outside the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, during a night of protests.
“It’s not a bunch of anarchists on the front lines,” said Carpenter, 29. “It’s moms singing and dads with leaf blowers to disperse tear gas. It’s not nearly as out of control as people think. I’m scared that the federal officers being here is going to result in someone being murdered."
Wheeler echoed those same concerns after speaking to protesters Wednesday night.

"President Trump needs to focus on coronavirus and get his troops out of the city. My biggest fear is that somebody's going to die," Wheeler said. "I want them to leave. This is going to come to a city near you if we don't stop it."
The mayor appeared to be attempting to walk a fine line of blasting the federal government while addressing a crowd that only days earlier, before federal officials swept into the city, had been organizing in opposition against his office. As mayor, Wheeler helps set the city's budget priorities. As police commissioner, he helps sets law-enforcement priorities.
Workers erect metal fencing and concrete barriers around the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, on July 22, 2020.
Some activists said his criticism of the federal government rang hollow given the previous clashes between city police and protesters.
"You need to be doing more than you are doing. You say you are doing stuff. We haven't seen it," Teal Lindseth, a 21-year-old activist, told him Wednesday night. 
The federal response has seemingly reenergized protesters in Portland against what they perceive as heavy-handed federal intervention following nearly two months of continuous demonstrations. They said they were seizing a groundswell of national support to continue pushing for police reform.

Wednesday night once again saw large numbers of white middle-aged Portland residents joining the protests, which have drawn hundreds of local activists nearly every night since the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died on Memorial Day after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes over a report of an alleged counterfeit $20 bill.
Federal officials have repeatedly referred to Portland residents as anarchists, with federal agents firing tear gas at the crowds of mostly peaceful protesters.
Officials say 42 people have been arrested by federal agents in the past few days, several of them over accusations that they managed to pry open the front doors of the courthouse and scuffle with officers inside.
In this Jan. 17, 2017, file photo, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler speaks during a news conference in Portland, Oregon.
"Attempted arson is not a peaceful protest. Physically attacking law enforcement is not freedom of speech. Destruction of property is not peaceful assembly,"  Wolfe said in a statement. "Criminals perpetrating these crimes are being arrested…not law-abiding protestors."
During the day Wednesday, contractors raced to finish ringing the courthouse with eight-foot-high metal-and-concrete barricades, the sounds of air compressors and electric screw guns echoing across the street to the protest encampment.
Kitty-corner from the courthouse, city park rangers Wednesday removed the metal benches from Chapman Square, a small park where many protesters had been resting and regrouping during overnight clashes. But there was no evidence the city was planning to evict the protest encampment from Lownsdale Square, directly across Southwest 3rd Avenue from the courthouse.
A man holding a sign saying a nearby park has been closed by park rangers angrily confronts a sheriff's deputy outside the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, on July 22, 2020.
In that encampment, protesters have erected tents and barbecue grills, offering free food. Other sites within the encampment provide basic hygiene supplies, including masks and hand-washing stations to protect against the spread of COVID-19, as well as water and eye rinses for protesters hit with tear gas or pepper spray.
As with other protest sites around the country, including the now-defunct Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHAZ, in Seattle, tourists were stopping by to take selfies, angering protesters who fretted that their message was being ignored while their encampment became a tourist attraction during the daytime.
On Wednesday, four volunteer medics who have been aiding protesters sued city police and the federal government, arguing their Constitutional rights have been violated by law enforcement officers targeting them with tear gas and rubber bullets. Filed with the help of the ACLU, the lawsuit says law enforcement officials at all levels have mistreated protesters.
"Defendants’ conduct is part of a longstanding pattern of assaulting and threatening protest medics to prevent them from rendering aid to protesters, journalists, neutral legal observers, and their fellow protest medics," the lawsuit says. "Since President Trump ordered federal agents to go to Portland to quell protests, the federal defendants have been coordinating with the Portland police to violently disperse demonstrators, neutrals, and medics standing behind a medical-supply table. The federal Defendants use the same types (or worse) of force—chemical irritants, rubber bullets, batons—as the Portland Police. And they have emerged from unmarked vehicles clad in unmarked uniforms to abduct suspected protesters."
Before Wheeler appeared in the crowd Wednesday, many of the protesters linked arms and lined the street next to the federal courthouse. Lindseth joined the crowd, alongside yellow-shirted moms and hundreds of other activists forming a human wall to protect the crowd.
"Hey look, Trump wanted a wall," she said with a grin. "So we're giving him one!"
Instead of silencing the city's protesters, the president had bestowed them a larger platform by sending in federal officers, she said. 
"Trump keeps talking about Portland. People keep talking about Portland. People know us," said Lindseth. "We feel like the whole world has seen us."


  1. Commie Ted showed his yellow belly to the mob, then ate boos and jeers as the main course with a dollop of fresh tear gas served by imperial storm troopers for dessert!


  2. Trump’s FBI finds no evidence of Antifa’s involvement in national unrest. The FBI also warned that a far-right social media group had “called for far-right-leaning provocateurs to attack federal agents, and use automatic weapons against protesters.” There have also been widespread reports of people posing as protesters while stoking anarchy and leaving the blame on leftist activists. Adding to the confusion, false rumors have been spreading that Antifa transported people to wreak havoc on small cities across America, unsubstantiated claims that have become red meat for conservative news media and on pro-Trump social media accounts. https://www.ajc.com/news/fbi-finds-evidence-antifa-involvement-national-unrest/qVI3U9wb8Q6u1QEvVsJ7AJ/