As controversy continues about the use of federal police in Portland, Oregon, the city’s mayor was teargassed by federal agents while standing in front of a fence that was guarding a federal courthouse. Mayor Ted Wheeler can be seen in a video holding his nose and eyes as a cloud of tear gas starts to develop around him.
Wheeler told a nearby New York Times reporter that was on site, “It stings. It’s hard to breathe. I can tell you with 100% honesty I saw nothing that provoked this response. I’m not afraid but I am pissed off.”
It is currently assumed that the teargas was deployed by federal agents, because Portland Police say that it wasn’t them. Unfortunately, the federal agents in town have not been transparent about their actions so they did not share the details of their operations with local officials, local police, or the press.
The incident reportedly occurred as Wheeler was joining the crowds to speak directly with protesters about their concerns. Wheeler said that he shared the protester’s concerns about the federal police in the city and told the crowd that, “It is an unconstitutional occupation. The tactics that have been used by our federal officers are abhorrent. They did not act with probable cause, people are not being told who they are being arrested by, and you’re been denied basic constitutional rights.”
Wheeler has been demanding that the federal agents leave the city for days, but President Donald Trump and the Department of Homeland Security are doubling down on their strategy to suppress the protests, and have condemned the local leadership for what they perceive as a lack of toughness.
After being tear gassed in a crowd, Portland’s mayor and police commissioner Ted Wheeler denounced federal officers for “urban warfare.”Some protesters, recalling the city police’s past use of tear gas, mocked him: “You better be here every night, Ted!” https://nyti.ms/39mQgsP
Posted by The New York Times on Thursday, July 23, 2020
CNN reported that tear gas was set off in response to fireworks that were set off near a group of peaceful protesters. Portland Police also said that a group of protesters threw “flammable material” and “incendiary devices” over a fence next to the courthouse, which they say started a large fire.
After midnight, Portland Police declared a riot because of a large group of protesters that they described as violent. The police told the crowd to leave, but most of them refused until the teargas came out. Surprisingly, no arrests were made.
President Donald Trump and the Department of Homeland Security have promised to bring the same tactics to other cities where local authorities don’t use extreme force to suppress protesters.
According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, DHS is now planning to send federal agents to Chicago any day now, to suppress ongoing protests in the city. President Trump has been threatening to send federal troops to Chicago long before the recent protest movement began. Less than a week into his presidency, Trump promised to “send in the Feds” if the crime rate was not reduced in Chicago.
DHS reportedly has 2,000 military officials waiting on standby for orders from Trump about which city to invade next. These measures are overwhelmingly opposed by most local political leaders, who are mostly Democrats.