Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler says he’s finally ready to push back against violent “anti-fascist” protesters following a New Year’s Eve riot — and even called out “Antifa” by name in a New Year’s statement.
As The Daily Wire reported Saturday, “anti-fascist” protesters, who have been demonstrating — and often rioting — in Portland nearly every night since Memorial Day weekend, doubled down on their destructive efforts over New Year’s, tossing Molotov cocktails into buildings, setting businesses and restaurants alight, and launched “large, commercial-grade aerial fireworks” at a federal courthouse in downtown Portland.
The NYE protest was eventually declared a “riot” by Portland police.
On Friday, Wheeler, who once even joined an Antifa protest in a show of solidarity with demonstrators, pledged to “push back harder” against Antifa, calling out the loosely organized network of “anti-fascists” by name, according to Fox News.
“My good faith efforts at de-escalation have been met with ongoing violence and even scorn from radical Antifa and anarchists,” Wheeler said. “In response, it will be necessary to use additional tools and push the limits of the tools we already have to bring the criminal destruction and violence to an end.”
“Lawlessness and anarchy come at great expense and great risk to the future of our community,” he continued. “It’s time to push back harder against those who are set on destroying our community, and take more risks fighting lawlessness.”
Wheeler mentioned Antifa by name and even lashed out at the “largely white” crowds that claim to be agitating in pursuit of social justice.
“Why would a group of largely white, young, and some middle-age men destroy the livelihood of others who are struggling to get by?” Wheeler asked.
Wheeler did note that his change of heart was coming late in the game, after months of violence and destruction that moved from Portland’s city center into its residential zones, where “Antifa” members targeted Portland’s citizens in late-night raids.
The mayor claims that it was difficult for him “to accept the reality that there are just some people on this planet who are bent on criminal destruction; that there are some people who truly just want to watch the world burn.”
Wheeler’s idea of a stronger response is still rather tepid. In his speech, Fox News notes, Wheeler suggested that he will consider “tougher penalties for rioting, as well as requiring offenders to do public service and meet the owners of the businesses they damaged.”
Wheeler likely had some idea of protesters’ intent back in July when he joined a demonstration against the Department of Homeland Security, which had sent in a special envoy of agents to protect the city’s Federal Courthouse. Although Wheeler thought he was contributing to the cause by speaking at a rally, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported, at the time, that Wheeler faced a chorus of “boos” and calls to resign. Later protests targeted Wheeler’s Portland condo, forcing him to relocate to protect his neighbors from violence.
In November, Wheeler narrowly fought off an electoral challenge from the far left, Oregon Live reported, and from residents of Portland who were concerned that the mayor was already being too strict in controlling the nightly Portland demonstrations.
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