Nathan Howard / Getty ImagesPortland Mayor Ted Wheeler reacts after being exposed to tear gas fired by federal officers while attending a protest in front of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on July 22, 2020, in Portland, Oregon. (Nathan Howard / Getty Images)
Democratic Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who has been praising protesters day after day following night after night of violence, was booed by the rioters he attempted to join Wednesday night.
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Wheeler was also urged to resign in a slide projected on the side of an embattled downtown building.
He mingled with demonstrators to the point of being tear-gassed along with them, then later left as protesters scuffled with the mayor’s security detail, Fox News reported.
After Wheeler was tucked safely inside a downtown building, protesters threw water bottles and other objects at the door to the building, according to a series of tweets from Mike Baker, a reporter for The New York Times.
Wheeler, who has characterized sending federal agents to Portland to end more than 50 straight nights of unrest as an occupation, called tear-gassing rioters who have been seeking to burn and damage a federal courthouse an “egregious overreaction on the part of the federal officers. There was nothing that I saw anybody do that warranted this reaction.”
“This is flat-out urban warfare and it’s being brought on the people of this country by the president of the United States and it’s got to stop now. This is a threat to our democracy,” he told Baker.
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Wheeler told protesters earlier that “what we’re doing tonight is actually the best thing we can do right now,” according to KGW-TV. “Be here, be heard, be unified, and be clear. We didn’t want them, we didn’t ask for them, they’re not trained for what they’re being asked to do. And we want them to leave.”
Rioters also threw fireworks at the courthouse and tried to start fires there, according to police.
Shortly after midnight, police at the scene of the courthouse declared the situation a riot and called upon crowds to disperse.
The violent protests have become devoid of meaning to Marilyn George, an Oregon native living in Oklahoma who still visits the area to see family.
“I am angry about this and no one seems to care, no one seems to be doing anything and, to be quite honest, I don’t remember what started this with the protesters, do they even remember?” George told KPTV. “That is what I would like to know. They have belabored their point, whatever it once was.”
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