PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler acknowledged Monday there are discussions that need to happen concerning the ongoing protests that roil the city between right-wing and left-wing groups but he stopped short of endorsing Police Chief Danielle Outlaw’s latest ideas.
Wheeler, back at City Hall following a family vacation, made a visible statement at a press conference that he condemns the violence from the June 29 rumble. He and law enforcement officials are already looking ahead to future demonstrations in the city.
At least 3 right-wing groups were involved in the June 29 protest, including the Proud Boys, another organized by activist Haley Adams and the “HimToo Movement” and members of Portland’s Liberation movement. A large number of supporters with Rose City Antifa gathered in opposition.
Three people were arrests during the protests. One arrest was related to the cement milkshakes.
Last week Outlaw was very clear when she said a new ordinance prohibiting face masks would go a long way to helping curb some of the protest violence. But Wheeler was hesitant to be as vocally supportive of the idea of eliminating face masks.
“We’ll be working with our community partners and others, and law enforcement partners and others going forward to do things differently. We know we have to do things differently,” Wheeler said.
But he wants to hear more about Outlaw’s idea.
“I heard some constitutional and potential legal questions that were raised. I want to have the opportunity to meet with her and work with her on her perspective on it so I’m not ready to have a perspective on it today.”
Asked by KOIN 6 News if he had any ideas to bring to the table, Wheeler said he wouldn’t offer any specifics at this time.
He did say he wants to try and get other city bureaus and commissioners involved along with community leaders and local businesses to send a message condemning this kind of violence from a larger group of people.
Wheeler also said enforcing the city’s existing permit requirements will also be a topic of discussion, since the marches on June 29 were not permitted. He noted Portland historically hasn’t enforced the permit requirement, though they have required people to stay on the sidewalk.
“They come here with the intent to commit acts of violence, they engage in street brawls, and at the end of the day they go home,” the mayor said. “But they leave Portlanders holding the bag and dealing with the consequences.”
He also took issue with police union president Daryl Turner, who publicly said Wheeler tied the hands of the police on June 29.
Outlaw denied that in her press conference and Wheeler also called Turner out.
“He crossed a line when he publicly stated in a Facebook message that I was not allowing the police to enforce the law.”
The mayor also made it clear he does not condone violence as a means to a political end.
“My message is the same to everyone: f you are coming here under the guise of First Amendment rights to assembly and free speech but you’re actual objective is to commit acts of violence or engage in a street brawl, I absolutely condemn that 100%.”