Portland mayor addresses criticism of protest response

PORTLAND, Ore. – Mayor Ted Wheeler pushed back against claims he allowed violence on Portland streets in opposing June protests after many on social media, including the police union president, questioned whether officers’ hands were tied.

“But he crossed a line when he publicly stated in a Facebook message that I was not allowing the police to enforce the law,” Mayor Wheeler said. “If you are coming here under the guise of First Amendment rights to assembly and free speech, but your actual objective is to commit acts of violence or engage in a street brawl, I absolutely condemn that one hundred percent.”

In a press conference Monday afternoon, Wheeler promised more changes. “I don’t believe we can stick with the same game plan and expect to have a different outcome,” He said.

The mayor was short on specifics on exactly what those changes might be.

Last week, the police chief addressed the situation, proposing the idea of banning masks and helmets.

Portland Chief Danielle Outlaw said, “We need strategic resources to get ahead of this before it starts so it’s not even allowed to happen in the first place.”

Wheeler wouldn’t endorse the idea or any version of time and place ordinance like one that was voted down by commissioners last year, saying instead all ideas need to come to the table for discussion. “They will be doing things differently,” Wheeler said. “There’s a lot of balancing that has to be done here, and we’re going to work with the community find that right balance.”

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