Port­land mayor de­cries vi­o­lent pro­test­ers as props for Trump

Chicago Sun-Times - - NATION/WORLD -

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.”

DAVE KILLEN /THE OREGONIAN VIA AP

Pro­test­ers gather at Penin­sula Park in north Port­land, Ore., on their way to the Port­land Po­lice As­so­ci­a­tion build­ing late Tues­day.

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