Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler admitted his policies in dealing with Antifa anarchists failed. He called for new enforcement actions and ask for federal and state assistance in dealing with the lawlessness.
“My good-faith efforts at de-escalation have been met with ongoing violence and even scorn from radical Antifa and anarchists,” Wheeler said in a New Year’s Day press conference. “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.”
The Portland mayor continued, “It’s time to push back harder against those who are set on destroying our community and to take more risks in fighting lawlessness.”
The mayor’s remarks came after the violent attacks by Antifa on Portland Police and the destruction of businesses in the downtown district on New Year’s Eve. The anarchist attacked officers with firebombs and commercial-grade fireworks. At least two Molotov cocktail-style firebombs were thrown and multiple commercial-grade fireworks were launched at Portland police as they tried to defend the downtown business district and the federal courthouse.
“We should be clear what this was last night, it was about violence and criminal destruction, period,” Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said during the press conference.
Mayor Wheeler called upon state, federal, county, and local law enforcement partners to work with him to develop “clear plans to address anarchist violence.” He also asked the Oregon Legislature to increase the penalties for people engaging in repeated acts of criminal destruction and vandalism.
Anfifia-related violence ran rampant in Portland through much of 2020. Between May and September, prosecutors dismissed more than 70 percent of the charges.
In December, Antifa built autonomous zones around foreclosed houses to stop law enforcement from executing an eviction order. When police arrived to execute the eviction order, Antifa became violent and chased the police away. The mayor pledged last week that the police were authorized to use “all lawful means” to end the occupation of the forclosed house and surrounding streets.
“I hope it is not an ongoing phenomenon,” Mayor Wheeler said in an article published by The Oregonian. “Our objective is to protect lives and end the occupation. And nobody should take this as an invitation to do it anywhere else. The end result could turn out very differently.”
Wheeler talked tough again in his New Year’s Day statement, “We need more accountability and we need to hold people responsible for their criminal conduct.”
I do not understand the New Year’s Eve rioters that came at a time with others in the city focused on “hope and optimism that come with the dawn of a new year, why would a large group of largely white, young, and some middle-aged men, from all reports, destroy the livelihood of other people who are struggling to get by,” the mayor said.
“It’s the height of selfishness,” Wheeler concluded. “There are just some people who want to watch the world burn. That’s what we’re up against here.”