Portland Mayor Tear-Gassed

Federal agents deployed nonlethal force against peaceful demonstrators.

CNN (“Portland mayor tear gassed after speaking with protesters on presence of federal agents“):

Mayor Ted Wheeler was tear gassed in downtown Portland early Thursday morning, according to video and posts on Twitter from a New York Times journalist.”It stings. It’s hard to breathe. I can tell you with 100% honesty I saw nothing that provoked this response,” Wheeler said to the Times camera. “I’m not afraid but I am pissed off.”

It’s unknown at this time who is responsible for deploying the tear gas and at this point, there is nothing to indicate the mayor was targeted. CNN has reached out to the mayor’s office for additional comment.

The video appeared to come after Wheeler joined crowds to listen to protesters and answer their questions after violent clashes between demonstrators and federal forces.

Wheeler addressed the presence of federal officers in his city who have been deployed by the Trump administration and are heavily opposed by local leaders across the state and nation. The President said the effort was to protect federal property, but protesters say the action itself has fueled the public’s outrage. Demonstrations in the city, many of which have been peaceful, have been ongoing for more than 50 days.”It is an unconstitutional occupation. The tactics that have been used by our federal officers are abhorrent. They did not act with probable cause, people are not being told, who they are being arrested by, and you’re been denied basic constitutional rights,” the mayor told the crowd.

The mayor’s comments come after the state’s US Attorney called for an investigation into why some protesters were taken by federal agents without badges and put into unmarked vehicles.

“That is a use of police force, federal police force for political ends,” Wheeler said. “That is not an acceptable solution anywhere in America,” the mayor told the crowd.”Some of the remarks from Wednesday’s crowd echoed each similar concerns.”I’ve been violated repeatedly, I’ve been shot with tear gas and munition, my body is bruised and swollen,” one protester who identified themselves as a high school administrator told the mayor. “I want to know what you’re going to do, to commit to me — as an educator committed to my community to make sure that my First Amendment right is upheld?”The mayor responded: “I will absolutely do everything in my power to go get rid of the federal troops and to reform the Portland Police Bureau. We need to do both.”

NYT (“Federal Officers Hit Portland Mayor With Tear Gas“) adds some perspective:

The mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, was left coughing and wincing in the middle of his own city Wednesday night after federal officers deployed tear gas into a crowd of protesters that Mr. Wheeler had joined outside the federal courthouse.

Mr. Wheeler, who scrambled to put on goggles while denouncing what he called the “urban warfare” tactic of the federal agents, said he was outraged by the use of tear gas and that it was only making protesters more angry.

“I’m not going to lie — it stings; it’s hard to breathe,” Mr. Wheeler said. ”And I can tell you with 100 percent honesty, I saw nothing which provoked this response.”

He called it an “egregious overreaction” on the part of the federal officers, and not a de-escalation strategy.

“It’s got to stop now,” he declared.

But the Democratic mayor, 57, has also long been the target of Portland protesters infuriated by the city police’s own use of tear gas, which was persistent until a federal judge ordered the city to use it only when there was a safety issue. As Mr. Wheeler went through the crowds on Wednesday, some threw objects in his direction, and others called for his resignation, chanting, “Tear Gas Teddy.”

After a large wave of tear gas sent Mr. Wheeler away from the scene, some protesters mocked him, asking how it felt. Mr. Wheeler said that joining the protesters at the front of the line was just one way he was going to try to rid the city of the federal tactical teams.

In an actual riot situation, tear gas is preferable to the alternatives: allowing the rioters to harm others or destroy property on the one hand or using deadly force on the other. But police, at both the state and local and now the federal level are abusing this tool, escalating the situation rather than controlling it.

Citizens have a right to peaceably assemble to express their grievances to their public officials. That certainly includes the right to protest the police.

FILED UNDER: First Amendment, Police
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. mattbernius says:

    James:

    But police, at both the state and local and now the federal level are abusing this tool, escalating the situation rather than controlling it.

    NTY:

    But the Democratic mayor, 57, has also long been the target of Portland protesters infuriated by the city police’s own use of tear gas, which was persistent until a federal judge ordered the city to use it only when there was a safety issue.

    To these points, later that same night, the Portland Police again threatened tear gas in an attempt to “desescalate” protesters.

    7
  2. Sleeping Dog says:

    To pick up from yesterday’s discussion of Fed LEO uniforms, for DHS it should be brown.

    Who would have guessed that an American president would have more in common with Xi, Putin, Duterte and Mubarak than Roosevelt, Reagan, Churchill or Lincoln.

    He is a fascist.

    11
  3. Teve says:

    I was watching a live video of downtown Portland last night at about 2300-2330 local time, I mentioned it on the Wednesday open thread I believe, and there was a bunch of peaceful people chanting, and in the background these white puffs of cloud would occasionally go by and I honestly couldn’t understand what was with the clouds. It couldn’t be teargas, I thought, because nobody was doing anything.

    6
  4. Teve says:

    Yeah here was my comment, at 2304 local time Portland, watching the video.

    Just watching a live feed of the justice building in downtown Portland 2300 local time. Whole bunch of people milling around, chanting FEDS GO HOME! FEDS GO HOME! No chaos whatsoever.

    4
  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    From the Guardian:

    Protesters in the crowd held signs that read “Tear Gas Ted” in reference to the Portland police bureau’s use of the substance before federal agents arrived. When the mayor left the protest, at about 12.40am, some protesters surrounded him and shouted angrily as he walked away. One person shouted: “You’ve got to be here every single night!”

    Probably safe to say that he is not loved by anyone in Portland right now. Probably also safe to say he was not expecting a warm reception from the protesters and went anyway. I wonder if he had a *police detail* with him for protection?

    I can’t begin to judge the job he’s been doing, safe to say he was gonna piss off somebody and it sounds like he succeeded in pissing off everybody, but either way I gotta give the man credit for showing up.

    Something trump has never done.

    ** detail of 1? 2? o?

    7
  6. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Un-armed suburban Mom’s are a threat in Trumpistan.
    This is what happens when you have a coward in the White House who is watching his chances for re-election crumble. An incompetent, stupid, fool…protected by 52 equally foolish and weak Senators, and emboldened by a corrupt AG.
    The only way to stop what is happening in Portland, and soon our other cities, is to vote this cancer out of the White House.
    103 days. Whatever you have done, it is not enough. Do more.

    12
  7. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Who would have guessed that an American president would have more in common with Xi, Putin, Duterte and Mubarak than Roosevelt, Reagan, Churchill or Lincoln.

    Despite our collective ret -conning, Trump is exactly like Reagan in this respect.

    7
  8. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Governor Reagan defended his decision to use the California National Guard to quell Berkeley protests: “If it takes a bloodbath, let’s get it over with. No more appeasement.”

    10
  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    The mayor has no grounds for complaint. The wall of moms should have been, and still should be, Portland PD forming a protective barrier to defend their citizens from DHS thugs.

    14
  10. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Mom’s = Mexican Caravans?

    1
  11. Scott F. says:

    Tear gassing moms and mayors ain’t no way to win hearts and minds. This isn’t playing out to be the election messaging winner the Trump folks planned it to be.

    4
  12. dazedandconfused says:

    So the game is to make the protests in front of the Federal Courthouse go away, allowing Barr to declare victory and justify the tactic elsewhere. Rests on Barr’s assumption the protesters will get tired of getting gassed every night.

    I don’t fancy Barr’s odds. It’s quite likely the protesters will refine their home-made MOPP kits (perfection is but a few tests away for most) and the hub-bub will draw more people, at least for a few weeks, perhaps three months. The protesters will refine their image as peaceful protesters as well if they have any collective common sense at all.

    What will Barr do if that comes to pass?

    2
  13. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve:

    It couldn’t be teargas, I thought, because nobody was doing anything.

    Shows what you know. Tear gas is just like Jello–there’s always room for it. 😉

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: To be fair, unarmed suburban moms are a threat everywhere. If you have suburban moms protesting you, you really fwkt up–bad.

    Patty Murray got her start as a suburban mom, ya know.

    3
  14. That Guy says:

    So, are we all collectively ignoring the videos of last night, featuring:

    1) A “mostly peaceful” protester starting a fire and accidentally igniting a fellow “mostly peaceful” protester at the occupied Courthouse?

    2) The numerous fireworks shot — in an admittedly peaceful manner — at the occupied Courthouse?

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Portland PD forming a protective barrier to defend their citizens from DHS thugs.

    That’s a nice thought but I would bet that Portland PD is like most other PDs and sees their citizens as “those who must be subdued” and the DHS as their natural allies in the unending war.

    Birds of an authoritarian feather and all that.

    @dazedandconfused:What will Barr do if that comes to pass?

    The same thing he’s doing now, lie lie lie, only more of it.

  16. flat earth luddite says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Good point on both responses, Cracker! Talking with my (adult) daughter this morning, and she asked if I thought this was how the days leading up to Der Kristalnacht looked to the citizenry. Told her that I wouldn’t be surprised.

  17. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @flat earth luddite:

    how the days leading up to Der Kristalnacht looked …

    Too bad that Mr. Dobranowski [edit: luddite’s civics teacher] would have to be almost 110 to still be around. He’d know. 🙁

  18. An Interested Party says:

    This is what happens when you have a coward in the White House who is watching his chances for re-election crumble.

    When he finally realizes that he has no chance at all of being reelected, what will he do…

    1