- advertisement -
Posted under: News Social Justice

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler Tear-Gassed While Attending Protest

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler condemned President Donald Trump for sending federal officers last week.

Update (July 23, 2020 ): After condemning President Donald Trump for sending federal agents to Portland, Mayor Ted Wheeler joined demonstrators on the frontline of a protest against police brutality on Wednesday night. 

In video clips captured by Mike Baker of The New York Times, Wheeler experienced the hazardous effects of tear gas firsthand and labeled the tactic an “egregious overreaction” by law enforcement officials. While wearing protective goggles, Wheeler said the use of tear gas is “urban warfare” and that it has done more to provoke violence than de-escalate it. 

“I’m not going to lie, it stings; it’s hard to breathe,” Wheeler said. “And I can tell you with 100% honesty, I saw nothing which provoked this response. ... I’m not afraid, but I am pissed off.”

While the mayor has called for federal agents to leave the city and spoke about his intention to collaborate with activists to promote change, some of the protesters say Wheeler joined the protest as a photo opportunity. 

Wheeler was booed by demonstrators who were also demanding his resignation, reports Yahoo News.

Sean Smith, who has been active at the protests for weeks, told The Times “[Wheeler] should probably be out here every night.” 

The demonstrations in Portland have persisted for 55 consecutive days, outlasting many of the protests that grew out of widespread outrage over police brutality following the killing of George Floyd.

As Blavity previously reported, the Trump administration is also planning to deploy federal agents to Chicago this week. 

Original (July 20, 2020): Protesters in Portland are being targeted by unidentified federal agents, and state and local authorities are speaking out.

According to Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), the agents are accused of driving unmarked minivans and snatching people off the street.  

Mark Pettibone and his friend Conner O’Shea gave their accounts of what happened while they were heading home after protesting on Wednesday night. In an interview with OPB, O’Shea said he was confused when people in camouflage pulled up in front of him and his friend.

“I see guys in camo,” O’Shea said. “Four or five of them pop out, open the door and it was just like, ‘Oh s**t. I don’t know who you are or what you want with us.’”

According to OPB, federal law enforcement officers have been driving unmarked vehicles and detaining protesters in Portland since at least last Tuesday. At least 13 protesters in the city have been charged by federal officers for alleged crimes that haven't been clarified. 

Pettibone was among the protesters who were arrested and released. The Portland protester and his friend believe they were targeted for simply wearing black clothes in the demonstration area.

“I just happened to be wearing black on a sidewalk in downtown Portland at the time,” Pettibone said. “And that apparently is grounds for detaining me.”

In a video sent to OPB, O'Shea narrated the scene as people were being detained. 

“Feds are driving around, grabbing people off the streets,” he said in the video. “I didn’t do anything f**king wrong. I’m recording this. I had to let somebody know that this is what happens.”

Pettibone said he was put in a holding cell at the federal courthouse, where officers read him his Miranda rights without ever telling him why he was arrested. The detained protester said he was released a short time later, but he has not been charged with any crimes and he doesn't know who arrested him.

The U.S. Marshals Service, however, said its officers didn't arrest Pettibone.

“All United States Marshals Service arrestees have public records of arrest documenting their charges. Our agency did not arrest or detain Mark James Pettibone,” the agency said in a statement. 

The Department of Homeland Security confirmed that Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was in Portland on Thursday. 

“I offered @DHSgov support to help locally address the situation that’s going on in Portland, and their only response was: please pack up and go home. That’s just not going to happen on my watch,” Wolf said on FOX News. 

Wolf has referred to the demonstrators as a "violent mob" as well as "anarchists."  

BBC News reported that the federal agents in Portland are part of a recently formed force made up of personnel from various departments, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S Marshals Service. President Donald Trump signed an executive order last month to assign the agents, who are responsible for protecting monuments, memorials, statues and federal facilities. The Federal Protection Service, which has officers in Portland, was involved in detaining protesters, BBC News reported. 

Mayor Ted Wheeler condemned Trump for sending federal agents to the city, OPB reported

“Over the past week, President Trump has used our city as a staging ground to further his political agenda, igniting his base to cause further divisiveness,” Wheeler said at a press conference. “Mr. President, federal agencies should never be used as your own personal army.”

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown also criticized the federal law enforcement presence.

"This political theater from President Trump has nothing to do with public safety," Brown tweeted. "The President is failing to lead this nation. Now he is deploying federal officers to patrol the streets of Portland in a blatant abuse of power by the federal government." 

She also told NPR the Trump administration is toying with civilians' lives. 

"The Trump administration needs to stop playing politics with people's lives," Brown told the outlet. "We don't have a secret police in this country. This is not a dictatorship. And Trump needs to get his officers off the streets."

In an interview with The Washington Post, Pettibone said he was terrified.

“It seemed like it was out of a horror/sci-fi, like a Philip K. Dick novel," he told The Post. "It was like being preyed upon.”

Orin Kerr, a professor at the University of California Berkeley School of Law, said arrests require "specific information indicating that the person likely committed a federal offense, or a fair probability that the person committed a federal offense.”

“If the agents are grabbing people because they may have been involved in protests, that’s not probable cause,” Kerr told The Post. 

- advertisement -