Wheeler admits ‘not the right strategy’ for Portland protests


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is breaking his silence on a clash between right- and left-wing groups Aug. 22.

At least one person was arrested for firing a gun during a demonstration on the Portland waterfront. Crowds also fought each other near Parkrose high school in northeast portland.

Mayor Wheeler had previously only issued a written statement on the clash, saying he and the city’s police chief mitigated the impact of the demonstrations thanks to careful planning beforehand.

Police did not respond to the Northeast Portland brawl. In today’s city council meeting, the mayor said he was responsible for the lapse in policing.

“It is clear based on public outcry, on the media outcry, on the national front, that that strategy was not the right strategy. I think we can all acknowledge that. I take full responsibility for it. I think we all acknowledge we want to do better,” Wheeler said.

The mayor went on to say he wants people to feel safe using their First Amendment rights but also thinks anyone who thinks violence is the answer should be held accountable.

“I think you will agree that I was absolutely pilloried nationally for bringing the community together two days prior to basically put the message out that we want people to seek peaceful resolutions to these differences,” Wheeler said. “We have to also be concerned with our public employees that we send into these situations where there are mutual combatants wanting to beat the crap out of each other.”

In a letter sent last week, U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden — along with Representatives Suzanne Bonamici and Earl Blumenauer — called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate “interstate criminal activity and coordination between extremist groups across state lines with the intent to commit acts of violence in connection with recurring violent altercations in Portland.”

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