In July, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler thought he was in control. As BLM protests raged across the country in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while in police custody in late May, Wheeler decided to mingle with protesters - a mix of BLM activists and Antifa.
Yet, instead of a rockstar crowd-surfing moment or whatever fantasy he envisioned, Wheeler was mocked as he gagged on tear gas, until he was forced to flee.
"He doesn't deserve to speak. He's a fucking fascist." pic.twitter.com/EEXrg918u1— Mike Baker (@ByMikeBaker) July 23, 2020
Two weeks later, Wheeler had changed his tone - calling protesters who attempted to burn down a police station with people inside "attempted murderers," as the city saw its most violent month in decades - which came after the Portland City Council slashed the police budget as part of an early July push to defund the police. The move forced the city to make drastic cuts to its Gun Violence Reduction Team as lawless anarchists destroyed property throughout the city.
The loss “forced us into a position where we have to really look at what resources we can bring to bear, absent that structure that we had with the Gun Violence Reduction Team,” said Police Chief Chuck Lovell in August.
In December, Portland police were attacked in broad daylight after Antifa erected a new 'autonomous zone.' Police were seen being struck by fists, fists, and even bricks hurled through the air "in broad daylight," as the AP described further that "The violence happened in broad daylight."
More video of how antifa in Portland attacked police at the autonomous zone and made them retreat. They sprayed a chemical all over one police cruiser’s front window to completely block the view while others threw projectiles. pic.twitter.com/La91Tn2F5r— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) December 9, 2020
Portland protesters have put up barricades on Mississippi Ave in an attempt to block an eviction of “The Red House” residence. Portland police have attempted to evict on multiple occasions during the over the past year. #Portland #protest #Portlandprotests #BLM #Antifa pic.twitter.com/0yYKH8r3ln— Independent Media PDX (@NDpendentPDX) December 9, 2020
Now, (and with the 2020 election in the rearview mirror) Wheeler has had enough in the wake of a New Year's Eve riot.
Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese spoke about the new year's eve riot in downtown Portland where antifa ransacked and looted businesses, started fires, assaulted responding law enforcement, and tried to break into the Justice Center. pic.twitter.com/1iutoyagup— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) January 2, 2021
In a New Year's press conference, the Portland Mayor admits that efforts to compromise with Antifa have failed, and he's now committing to pushing back - with his limited police force.
"My good faith efforts at de-escalation have been met with ongoing violence, and even scorn, from radical Antifa and anarchists," said Wheeler.
"It will be necessary to use additional tools, and to push the limits of the tools we already have, to bring the criminal destruction and violence to an end," he added. "Lawlessness and anarchy come at great expense, and with great risk to the future of our community. It's time to push back harder against those who are set on destroying our community, and to take more risks in fighting lawlessness."
"I condemn anyone who engages in violence or criminal destruction no matter what their ideology."
In his new year's presser, Portland Mayor @tedwheeler admits that his efforts to de-escalate & compromise with antifa have failed to yield results. He condemns the violent extremist movement by name & calls for more to be done. https://t.co/1MJhHOxO1u pic.twitter.com/HtsSSM3dzz— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) January 2, 2021