Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler warned rioters that each additional night of violence against police and residents was a donation of sorts to President Trump’s reelection campaign.
Wheeler appeared in a press conference with Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell on Thursday after rioters attempted to burn down a police precinct the night before. Wheeler appealed to rioters to stop the violence and asked protesters and gawkers to stop encouraging violence targeting police.
“Last night, 200-300 people went to East Precinct intent on violence. The purpose was to attack the East Precinct facility and the people therein,” Wheeler said, later adding, “Exits were blocked; they were barricaded shut with cars and with two-by-fours. Security cameras were disabled, and accelerants were used to set and grow fires. The attack was immediate, it was intentional, and it was planned. It was intended to cause serious injury or death, and it very well could have.”
“When you commit arson with an accelerant in an attempt to burn down a building that is occupied by people that you have intentionally trapped inside, you are not demonstrating; you are attempting to commit murder,” Wheeler said.
“This is not peaceful protest. This is not advocacy to advance reforms or transform any system,” Wheeler continued.
Portland has been rocked for over two months by nightly riots since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. On Thursday night, a group of rioters surrounded an elderly woman using a walker and threw white paint on her. One man can be seen getting inches away from her face to yell at her.
Wheeler said that city officials expected the attacks on city buildings, police, and residential neighborhoods to continue:
We anticipate additional planned attacks on occupied buildings over the next few days. I want to put a message out to the people of this city: if you are a nonviolent demonstrator and you don’t want to be part of intentional violence, please stay away from these areas. Our community must say that this violence is not Portland, that these actions do not reflect our values, and these crimes are distracting from reform, not advancing it. And they’re keeping our police officers from responding to historic levels of violence in our community. Right now, Portland is experiencing record gun violence and our police bureau, its leadership, its detectives, its frontline officers, its support staff need to be focused on responding to that, not on responding to arson at our own police precincts.
At the end of the press conference, Wheeler made a political appeal to rioters and protesters that they were helping to potentially reelect Trump with nightly footage of attacks circulating on social media.
“Don’t think for a moment that if you are participating in this activity, that you are not being a prop for the reelection campaign of Donald Trump — because you absolutely are. You are creating the B-roll film that will be used in ads nationally to help Donald Trump during his campaign. You don’t want to be part of that? Then don’t show up,” Wheeler said.