Portland’s Democrat mayor has announced that he will be moving home after his condo in an upmarket area of the city was repeatedly targeted by protests which have been ongoing for months.
Ted Wheeler sent an email to other people living in the Pearl District block where his two-bed, $840,000 condo is located after activists lit fires outside the building, set off fireworks and blared music to ‘celebrate’ his 58th birthday on Monday night.
Wheeler apologized for ‘the fear that you are experiencing due to my position’ before announcing his move, saying it is ‘best for me and for everyone else’s safety.’
Meanwhile Portland’s police chief urged political leaders to ‘draw a line in the sand’ and ‘put and end’ to violent behavior, warning that the attacks are ‘escalating’.
Ted Wheeler, the Democrat mayor of Portland, has told neighbors he will move out of his $840,000 condo in an upmarket area of the city after it became a target for protesters
Wheeler was last targeted on Monday as activists lit fires in the street outside the building, looted a local business, set off fireworks and blared music to ‘celebrate’ his 58th birthday
‘As I’ve stated repeatedly, the nightly violence is coming at increased cost,’ the chief said. ‘It is not only that occupied buildings are being targeted.
‘Gun violence is skyrocketing. Emergency calls for service are not being answered. This is impacting the safety of our entire City and urgent action is needed.
‘Our elected officials need to do their part to draw a line in the sand and to hold people accountable. The violent behavior must end.’
Portland has seen more than 95 days of unrest which began in the wake of the killing of George Floyd during his arrest in Minneapolis in May.
What began with calls to defund the police and reinvest in communities has spiraled into anti-government demonstrations, including calls for Wheeler’s resignation.
Those calls intensified at the weekend after the fatal shooting of Aaron ‘Jay’ Bishop, a member of the pro-Trump Patriot Prayer group, in the city.
Police are thought to have identified Michael Forest Reinoehl, who describes himself online as 100% antifa, as a suspect.
Amid pressure on his job, Wheeler has now decided to move home, according to The Oregonian, which saw a copy of the email he sent to residents.
Wheeler, a divorcee who has a daughter with his ex-wife, bought the home in 2017 while he was still married, the paper reports.
The property has been repeatedly targeted by protesters over the last several months, including on Monday night.
Demonstrators chanted slogans, waved banners calling for Wheeler’s resignation, and sang ‘happy tear gas to you’ to the tune of ‘Happy Birthday’ outside his apartment
A dental practice, which Wheeler has since announced was minority-owned, was also broken into an looted during the demonstration, with a fire started in the lobby
Demonstrators had gathered in the area around 8pm before marching to the street outside Wheeler’s apartment around 10pm.
Wearing party hats and carrying balloons, the activists played music, sounded horns, banged drums and set off fireworks in the middle of the street.
A fire was also started using a picnic table taken from a nearby business, before a dentist’s office was broken into and looted, with furniture dragged on to the fire.
Police moved in around 11pm after someone tried to start a fire in the dentist’s office, which sits below an occupied apartment block, declaring the scene a riot.
Officers repeatedly charged the crowd after they refused to move away from the area, making 19 arrests.
The gathering had been fully dispersed by 2am, officers said. Several of those arrested were found to be in possession of weapons, including knives and batons.
On Monday, Wheeler received a letter from Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, urging him to request federal help in quelling the protests and riots.
‘I urge you to prioritize public safety and to request federal assistance to restore law and order in Portland,’ Wolf wrote. ‘We are standing by to support Portland.
‘At the same time, President Trump has made it abundantly clear that there will come a point when state and local officials fail to protect its citizens from violence, the federal government will have no choice but to protect our American citizens.’
A protester holds up a sign during a ‘meditation walk’ in support of Black Lives Matter through downtown Portland on Tuesday
Portland’s police chief urges politicians to ‘draw a line in the sand’ over violence
Portland’s police chief has denounced protesters who broke windows and set a fire to a business in the upscale apartment building where Mayor Ted Wheeler lives, labeling the events an escalation in the street violence that Oregon’s largest city has endured for months.
Chief Chuck Lovell said the demonstrators also wound up targeting other people who live in Wheeler’s building and have had nothing to do with the protests, as well as a minority-owned business which was looted.
Previously, the demonstrators have almost always clashed with police outside symbols of authority – police buildings and courthouses.
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell speaks out as he urges political leaders to get a grip on lawlessness in the city
‘The families that live inside have done absolutely nothing to provoke a threat to their lives. As I´ve stated repeatedly, the nightly violence is coming at increased cost,’ he said.
‘This is impacting the safety of our entire city and urgent action is needed.’
Wheeler said on his Facebook page that the vandalism hurt a minority-owned business.
‘Arson and terrorizing families with children does nothing except steal, and distract from, the important message of the racial justice movement. Organizations in the community who encouraged or condoned these actions are complicit,’ he said.
Wheeler added: ‘The community must rise up and say `enough is enough´ and hold all of us accountable. We cannot truly move on together and make the positive changes we want to see until this violence is stopped. All violence.’