PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler minced no words in his opening remarks at a New Year’s Day press conference following a riot on New Year’s Eve in downtown.
Wheeler laid out the “who, what, when, where and why” of what happened Thursday.
“The who: violent antifa and anarchists,” the mayor said. They rampaged through downtown Portland causing tens of thousands of dollars of damage with spray painting, window breaking, fires and fireworks.
“Why? This is the hardest question of all to answer,” Wheeler said. “Why would a group of largely white, young and some middle age men destroy the livelihood of others who are struggling to get by?”
The mayor said he sees himself as a caring and honest person. “It is hard for me to accept that there are some people who are just bent on destruction.”
He said he’s been in contact with Multnomah County DA Mike Schmidt and wants more prosecutions and everyone held accountable. And Wheeler also said it’s time to use additional tools to end this violence.
“My good faith efforts at de-escalation have been met with ongoing violence and even scorn from radical antifa and anarchists,” Wheeler said. “In response 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.”
Wheeler said he is committing to 3 things:
- “Federal, state, county and local law enforcement to convene to deal with anarchist violence. as soon as possible,” even next week.
- Calling on state legislature to increase penalties for repeat offenders
- “I believe people convicted of criminal destruction be required to meet with those whose businesses they damaged,” Wheeler said, “and be required to do public service.”
Commissioner Mingus Mapps, on his first official day as a city commissioner, spoke and talked about the need for the violence to end.
Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese spoke about the specific “challenges” that unfolded during the riot, and PPB Chief Chuck Lovell reiterated what Reese and Wheeler said, noting the PPB was understaffed on New Year’s Eve.
The leaders addressed the riot declared Thursday night in which several businesses were damaged and multiple arrests were made. Police also reported Molotov cocktails being thrown at officers.