PORTLAND, OR—On September 1, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced to the neighbors of his high-rise condominium by email that he will be moving out of the building in response to protests held outside the residence.
According to Multnomah County property records, Wheeler bought the two-bedroom condo for $840,000 in 2017. In the email screenshot sent to The Oregonian, he wrote it is “best for me and for everyone else’s safety and peace” that he moves out. He invited tenants to a meeting with him and officers on September 3 at 5:00 p.m. to voice their concerns and added, “I want to express my sincere apologies for the damage to our home and the fear that you are experiencing due to my position.”
The 16-floor, 114-unit building is located in Portland’s Pearl District where protests have occurred in the past month. Since late June, Black Lives Matter demonstrators have gathered outside its doors to protest Wheeler’s lack of participation in the cause.
On August 31, which Wheeler celebrated his 58th birthday, members of a 200-strong demonstration painted graffiti and damaged the building on the 96th night of Portland protests. Some members of the group wore birthday hats and sang “Happy tear gas to you” in the tune of the birthday song. At one point, a protester threw burning newspapers into the doors at the bottom floor. The fire was put out by officers, and the Portland Police Bureau said they are looking for the arsonist. A fire was also started in the street, fueled by a chair from inside the building as well as a wooden bench from an adjacent business. The gathering was declared a riot after 11 p.m. and police used crowd control munitions including smoke.
Nineteen attendees were arrested after refusing to disperse. Two are accused of carrying concealed weapons and one of them is also accused of attempting to assault an officer. Another pair were charged with first-degree criminal mischief allegations. Most were charged with interfering with a police officer (IPO), which means they disobeyed an officer’s order. IPO has been the most common offense for over 700 Portlanders that have been arrested at protests throughout the last three months. According to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, more than 20 percent of this year’s protesters committed no crime other than IPO.
Footage from the protest that was released shows an officer throwing a person to the ground and striking them repeatedly before other officers arrive and arrest the person.
A police officer runs ahead of his line, tackles a protester, and starts punching them on the ground pic.twitter.com/gpwmMjwuWC
— Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) September 1, 2020
Wheeler responded to the video and to recent violence in a post on Facebook:
“A police officer was filmed repeatedly striking an individual at a protest. Even the building where I live, along with dozens of other families, was violently attacked. These acts range from stupid, to dangerous, to criminal. The violence must stop.”
Wheeler stated he only condones peaceful forms of protest. He also included a call to vote, “read my 19 Point Plan on Police Reform and provide feedback to my office. Contact your elected officials at every level of government.”