Portland mayor decries violent protesters as props for Trump
PORTLAND, Ore. — The mayor of Portland, Oregon, a city wracked by nearly 70 consecutive nights of unrest, on Thursday angrily denounced those who attempted to set a police precinct on fire with officers stationed inside as props in President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and said those individuals were not protesters, but criminals.
“You are not demonstrating, you are attempting to commit murder,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said in hastily called news conference alongside Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell.
“Don’t think for a moment that you are if you are participating in this activity, you are not being a prop for the reelection campaign of Donald Trump — because you absolutely are,” he said. “You are creating the B-roll film that will be used in ads nationally to help Donald Trump during this campaign. If you don’t want to be part of that, then don’t show up.”
The show of solidarity among Portland’s leadership came after two nights of violent clashes between protesters and local police less than a week after an agreement between state and federal officials appeared to be ratcheting down sky-high tensions that had simmered for weeks. On Thursday, the Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front posted a message on Twitter advertising a similar anti-police rally in the same spot and called it “Round 2.”
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 precinct 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 at the time.
The violence began after a group of about 100 people gathered in a nearby park for a rally advertised on social media by the group Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front. The group then marched to the precinct.
Passadore noted that at the same time, there was a larger, peaceful gathering of Black Lives Matter demonstrators outside the federal courthouse downtown.
“I don’t want people to get confused to think that this was something related to Black Lives Matter,” he 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.”
Protesters gather at Peninsula Park in north Portland, Ore., on their way to the Portland Police Association building late Tuesday.