Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has taken issue with Donald Trump after an interview in which he denounced the President’s tactics in the city.
The mayor posted on Twitter on July 20 that “Mayors from around the country took a stand against unilateral federal intervention in our cities, calling for immediate removal of the President’s ‘Rapid Deployment Unit’ squads and for a congressional investigation of their unconstitutional terror tactics.”
The Trump administration sent federal agents to Portland in early July, calling the city “out of control” amid protests taking place there daily since the police killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day.
Wheeler’s comments followed an interview with CNN in which he responded to Trump saying that his administration was trying to “help Portland, not hurt it.” The president claimed Portland’s leadership “has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators.”
Speaking with CNN’s Jake Tapper on State of the Union, Wheeler described the “tactics that the Trump administration are using on the streets of Portland” as “abhorrent” and “a direct threat to our democracy.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Wheeler Says Trump Is ‘Breaking the Law’ & ‘His Actions Are Unconstitutional’
Wheeler took to Twitter on July 19 following the CNN interview to denounce the Trump administration’s actions in Portland.
“This morning, @jaketapper @CNNSotu asked if I believed the President was breaking the law. Not only do I believe he is breaking the law, but he is also endangering the lives of Portlanders. His actions are unconstitutional,” Wheeler said.
CNN reported that the mayor and Trump were blaming each other after the Portland Police Association was set on fire on July 19 and protests continued to rage in the city after more than 50 nights. Wheeler told the outlet the presence of federal troops in the city was escalating the issue.
There were “dozens if not hundreds of federal troops descending upon our city,” he said, and “their presence here is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism.”
Wheeler Outlined His ‘Stand’ Against the President’s ‘Rapid Deployment Unit Squads’
Wheeler sent a letter on July 20 to U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Acting Secretary of Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, expressing his opposition to the deployment of federal forces in cities nationwide. The letter was cosigned by the mayors of Seattle, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City and Washington, D.C.
The letter reads, in part:
The unilateral deployment of these forces into American cities is unprecedented and violates fundamental constitutional protections and tenets of federalism. As you are well aware, President Trump threatened to deploy federal forces in Seattle to “clear out” a protest area and in Chicago to “clean up” the city. Seattle and Chicago authorities objected and threatened legal action to stop such actions. In Washington, DC outside Lafayette Park, extreme action was taken by federal law enforcement against protesters without the Mayor of DC’s approval.
This abuse of power cannot continue.
In Portland, federal forces have used significant force against protesters on a nightly basis, including shooting one individual in the head with a munition, reportedly fracturing his skull. Others “snatched” an individual from the street without proper identification and placed him in an unmarked vehicle. These are tactics we expect from authoritarian regimes – not our democracy.
Wheeler Confirmed He Will Retain His Police Commissioner Role
Wheeler confirmed on Facebook that he will remain in the role of police commissioner.
“I have asked our City Attorney to explore other legal options to address federal actions in our community. I will continue working with my Council colleagues to consider and direct reforms of the Portland Police Bureau, including the action plan I announced in June,” Wheeler wrote.
“I will continue to serve as Police Commissioner through this time of transformation. And I will continue to work with elected leaders from the County and the State to ensure that we are examining the criminal justice system as a whole.”
Portland police have come under scrutiny and received criticism for their use of tear gas and physical force at protests, The Oregonian/Oregon Live reported. Wheeler has denounced the actions of protesters who have committed acts of vandalism and set fires in public places.
Wheeler rejected the offer of Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty to take over the role of police commissioner. Writing on Twitter, she said, “Mayor @tedwheeler, I’ve had enough. If you can’t control the police, give me the Portland Police Bureau.”
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