Feds put Portland ‘at tip of spear, picked wrong place’

2020 Protests

Presence of federal officers reignited demonstrations, protesters say

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As the images of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler being tear gassed Wednesday night is grabbing national attention, protesters say the arrival of the federal officers reignited the flames of the ongoing demonstrations.

Wheeler arrived around 9 p.m. and tried to talk with the crowd but was often shouted down by the crowd. One of the protesters, Emory Mort, described the entire event as a “world historic moment” and said he respects the mayor for coming.

Emory Mort was among the multitude of protesters in downtown Portland, July 23, 2020 (KOIN)

“I respect him for at least coming out, but what does, what does he have to offer? And that’s the issue right now with the system. What does the system have to offer to bend to the demands?​” he said.

As more tear gas filled the streets, longtime Portlander Peter Zych said he felt it’s important for him to see the Black Lives Matter movement with his own eyes.

“I accept that all of us have to be inconvenienced by this if we’re going to make change,” Zych said. “I hope people think more about whether they’re helping or hurting, you know, the Black Lives Matter (movement).”

Peter Zych was among the multitude of protesters in downtown Portland, July 23, 2020 (KOIN)

He said he’s heartbroken over the institutional racism the country perpetuates.

“The government has put us at the tip of the spear and and I think they picked the wrong place,” he told KOIN 6 News. “You know, they’re going to be sorry they tried to intimidate and dominate Portland, the Black Lives Matter movement.​”

While protesters are motivated for a variety of reason, one Portlander said he comes out to protest police brutality.

“I’m with the protest 100%,” Baloo King said. “But I’m super, super anti-destruction. At the end of the day the city’s just going to fix that and charge all of us.”

While some protesters set fires, King said he puts them out. And he said there are greater numbers of people who come to promote peace and change. King wants to be part of that change.

“I think a solution, I think even though people don’t like cops, I think we need to sit down with them, like get to know each other,” he said. “I think that would be a good step in the right direction.”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler reacts after being exposed to tear gas fired by federal officers while attending a protest against police brutality and racial injustice in front of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on July 22, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. State and city elected officials have called for the federal officers to leave Portland as clashes between protesters and federal police continue to escalate. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

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