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Portland Mayor Extended State of Emergency, Asks Public’s Help in ‘Unmasking’ Protesters

Portland Mayor Extended State of Emergency, Asks Public’s Help in ‘Unmasking’ Protesters

Ted Wheeler has had a troubled tenure as the Mayor of Portland, Oregon. Wheeler has seen the city go from the darling of the national foodie scene to Ground Zero for extremists from both the right and the left. Portland’s Black Lives Matter protests began peacefully enough last May, but soon instigators from right-wing militia groups like the Proud Boys and more left-leaning fascists created violent clashes on the downtown streets, leading to massive property damage and countless arrests amid injuries and even deaths.

Business owners weary of broken windows and other acts of violence have been begging Wheeler to take action, but Wheeler has proven himself to be ineffective at being able to maintain that balance of rightful and peaceful protest while countering the violence that has been plaguing the city for nearly a year. In the wake of the George Floyd verdict, locals were hoping for a respite, but the overlapping deaths of Daunte Wright and Mak’hia Bryant have only fueled the protests callings for an end to police brutality.

On Monday night, a group of people gathered in Northeast Portland and some smashed windows at the Blazers Boys & Girls Club, causing nearly $20,000 in damage to the club. A week ago Friday night, a large demonstration downtown erupted into a riot that left the front windows of the First Christian Church broken, anti-police messages scrawled on the exterior of the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and windows smashed at the Oregon Historical Society, the second time vandals have targeted the public building.

Wheeler had already declared a state of emergency ahead of the Floyd verdict and has kept it in place during the week as nightly protests have only increased. Now the Mayor is extending the order over the weekend, and some comments he made at a press conference announcing the order are stirring controversy as he condemned protester violence by asking the public to help in “unmasking” and identifying those who have been dubbed “black bloc” protesters. The order gives him the power to set a curfew, blockade streets, or call in extra officers from the Oregon State Police and Oregon National Guard, if deemed necessary.

Wheeler asked residents to note the license plates of people who drive to the events in various neighborhoods and then don all black clothing and grab shields or weapons from their cars. Share those license numbers with police, he said. If people overhear others bragging about the violence they committed in the city, report it, he said.

Wheeler also said he was extending a state of emergency in the city and directed the Police Bureau to arrest people engaged in any crimes if they can do so safely to prevent and limit destruction. He said he supported police using the controversial “kettling” tactic — boxing in people — if necessary.

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“We’d like to see higher bail for those who are arrested after this kind of activity,” Wheeler said. “We’d like to see tougher pretrial restrictions on those individuals so they don’t just pop right back onto the street and participate the next day. For those who are repeat offenders, I’d like to see tougher sentences.”


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