By Graham Dockery*
Mayor Ted Wheeler appears to have finally worked out that the residents of Portland, Oregon might be losing patience with endless rioting and vandalism. If only he were in a position to do something about it.
Portland is a joke. The city has gone from being a byword for early-2010s hipsterism, replete with vegan bookstores and feminist interpretive dance studios, to a s**thole teeming with addicts and the homeless, where nihilist ‘Antifa’ rioters come out every night to smash windows, start fires, and assault police officers.
For nine months straight, the riots have been an almost nightly occurrence. In the past week alone, black-clad left-wingers set a federal courthouse on fire, vandalized downtown shopfronts, and pelted rocks and beer cans at police officers. Cops seized knives, hammers, and firearms.
Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, has declared that enough is enough. “The community is sick and tired of people engaging in criminal destruction and violence, and doing it under the guise of some noble cause,” Wheeler told a press conference on Monday night. “We want you to know that we’re aligning our resources, we’re revising our tactics, and we’re fighting back with everything that we’ve got.”
Wheeler didn’t say what form the city’s pushback would take, but he’s condemned the violence before and done nothing. If the fire-starting reprobates besieging his city listened to strongly worded statements, Portland wouldn’t be the cesspool it is. Alas they don’t, and Wheeler hasn’t really got anything stronger to offer.
Let’s see what he’s tried so far. When then-president Donald Trump deployed federal agents last summer to protect government buildings from the nightly battering by the Antifa crowd, Wheeler demanded they stand down, publicly declaring, “This is not the America we want.” He then tried speaking to the protesters to figure out their demands, but was met with chants of “F**k Ted Wheeler” and caught in a cloud of tear gas. As the summer dragged on, they ignored his repeated pleas for calm, adding insult to injury in August by surrounding his condo and chucking burning trash through the windows as Wheeler celebrated his birthday inside.
Any sane man would turn the police loose on these degenerates, but Ted Wheeler is not a sane man. Instead, he banned the cops from using tear gas on rioters, cut the force’s budget by $7 million (weeks before the city’s council stripped another $15 million from the budget with his support), and announced a host of “bold” reforms, which included scrapping a gun-violence reduction unit. As a result, the city’s homicide rate soared to its highest level in nearly three decades.
None of these measures appeased the mob, nor has the passing of time lessened their appetite for destruction. Wheeler pulled $15 million from the police budget, protesters demanded $50 million. They called him “Tear Gas Ted” when he sent in police officers, but attacked him when he tried talking to them. George Floyd’s alleged killer, Derek Chauvin, will soon have his day in court, but the riots continue under the guise of Black Lives Mattering. Donald Trump is out of office, but the left-wing violence is ongoing.
Wheeler, like Minneapolis’ cuckolded Mayor Jacob Frey, radiates weakness, and the mob can smell it. Emboldened by the fact that they’ve largely gotten away with their nine-month crime spree, they’re showing zero intention of backing off now.
At a certain point, appeasement becomes masochism. I can only speculate as to whether Wheeler has a thing for humiliation, but it’s not just the mayor hurting here. As he said himself, “the community” is tired of the lawlessness.
Wheeler could end the destruction in a night. As both mayor and police commissioner, he could single-handedly order a crackdown on the riots, and he’d have the support of the public, who’ve demanded the police use more force, not less. Law and order isn’t a political position; it’s a prerequisite for a civilized society to exist and thrive.
Wheeler may be starting to realize this on some level, as he said last week that he’ll seek $2 million in funding to bring back the anti-gun taskforce he cut last summer. While $2 million is a fraction of the sum he pulled from policing in 2021, it may well be the start of an actual pushback in more than words. After months of embarrassing kowtowing before the dregs of the left, it’s the least he can do.
*Graham Dockery is an Irish journalist, commentator, and writer at RT. Previously based in Amsterdam, he wrote for DutchNews and a scatter of local and national newspapers.