A well-known politician on Friday denounced “self-described anarchists who engage in regular criminal destruction” and want to “burn,” “bash” and “intimidate.” He called for “higher bail” and “tougher pretrial restrictions” on rioters. And he pleaded with the public to cooperate with police and identify miscreants: “Our job is to unmask them, arrest them, and prosecute them.”
Donald Trump? Sheriff Arpaio? Nope.
That was Portland, Ore., Mayor Ted Wheeler, the über-progressive, who made a national reputation last year by apologizing for vandals and rioters he said were merely exercising their right to protest against an unjust America. Now he’s had an epiphany, after his indulgence has made parts of Portland a battle zone.
Activists on the right and left have clashed in Portland’s streets, often violently, with few consequences since Mr. Wheeler was elected mayor in 2016. Rioting escalated after George Floyd’s death. But even as agitators shot fireworks at law enforcement, firebombed government buildings and set fire to cop cars and a police union hall, Mr. Wheeler directed police not to use CS gas for crowd control.
When the Trump Administration sent agents to defend federal property, Mr. Wheeler called it “an attack on our democracy” and blamed the feds for “increased violence and vandalism in our downtown core.” The fiscal 2021 budget slashed police funding by some $27 million.