DHS chief presses Portland mayor to accept federal help as another riot is declared
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf is pressing the mayor of Portland, Ore., to accept federal help to handle continuing protests as police declared another riot in the city Monday night.
In a letter Wolf shared on Tuesday, he urged Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) to request federal assistance for the demonstrations, accusing Wheeler of standing “by passively, arguing that the nightly violence ‘will ultimately burn itself out.’ ”
“Due to a lack of action throughout the summer, Portland and its law-abiding residents continue to suffer from large-scale looting, arson, and vandalism — even killing,” Wolf wrote.
“We are standing by to support Portland,” he continued. “At the same time, President Trump has made it abundantly clear that there will come a point when state and local officials fail to protect its citizens from violence, the federal government will have no choice but to protect our American citizens.”
The acting secretary pointed to the 255 arrests in the city since July 31 and 23 riots and unlawful assemblies declared.
Wolf also said Wisconsin’s federal law enforcement request for Kenosha reduced the violence and looting there.
Portland’s mayor has stood by passively, arguing the nightly violence “will ultimately burn itself out.” The evidence demonstrates otherwise. Again, I urge Portland leaders to prioritize public safety & request federal assistance to restore law & order. https://t.co/1ZiyRXdBtP
— Acting Secretary Chad Wolf (@DHS_Wolf) September 1, 2020
Wolf’s Monday letter was a response to a Friday letter to President Trump from Wheeler, who criticized the president for mentioning the Portland protests during his Republican National Convention speech. The mayor publicly declined the president’s offer for federal authorities to come to the city to quell the protests in his letter.
“We don’t need your politics of division and demagoguery. Portlanders are onto you,” Wheeler wrote. “We have already seen your reckless disregard for human life in your bumbling response to the COVID pandemic. And we know you’ve reached the conclusion that images of violence or vandalism are your only ticket to reelection.”
Protests in Portland have continued since George Floyd’s death in May while in police custody. On Monday night, the Portland Police Bureau declared a riot and made 19 arrests. Monday’s demonstrations took place outside Wheeler’s presumed residence to “celebrate” his birthday, KATU ABC 2 reported.
One person was shot and killed on Saturday after a day of confrontations between Black Lives Matter protesters and a caravan of Trump supporters, though it remains unclear whether the shooting was connected to the skirmishes and police have not named a suspect.
Updated at 3:55 p.m.