Portland mayor blames antifa, anarchists following NYE riot
Portland, Ore., Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) condemned antifa and anarchists following a night of riots in the city on New Year’s Eve.
Speaking at a press conference on New Year’s Day, the mayor said protesters caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage by breaking windows, starting fires and spray-painting property in downtown Portland late Thursday evening, local CBS affiliate KOIN reported.
Wheeler asked during his press conference, “Why would a group of largely white, young and some middle-age men destroy the livelihood of others who are struggling to get by?”
According to law enforcement, some protesters allegedly used Molotov cocktails Thursday night, causing thousands of dollars in damage to properties around the downtown area.
The mayor has since been in contact with Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt, calling for more prosecutions and accountability for “radical antifa and anarchists” seeking to cause damage and wreak havoc in the city, which suffered dozens of nights of violent protests in 2020.
“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 committed to three counterapproaches for handling violent protesters in the city, including asking federal, state, county and local law enforcement “to convene to deal with anarchist violence as soon as possible.”
He also called on the state legislature to increase penalties for repeat offenders, adding that he believes people who are convicted of criminal destruction should be “required to meet with those whose businesses they damaged.”
The Portland mayor’s comments mark a drastic change in tone from his remarks throughout 2020, when demonstrators ravaged a nearby courthouse for more than 100 nights, partially prompted by outrage over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May.
President Trump urged Wheeler to allow him to deploy federal troops to help quell protests in the city during the summer, but the mayor denied the president’s offer.