Mayor Wheeler’s Condemnation of New Year’s Day Protests Underscores Own Hypocrisy

(Photograph wall with “Fuck Ted Wheeler” graffiti on surface) Photo Credit - Tedder is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

By Dory Nafshun

Jan 6, 2021

Portland Mayor re-elect Ted Wheeler is back in the news cycle for divisive comments during a press release, after recent “Red House” tensions between Portland authorities and protestors regarding a foreclosed house came to a resolution in mid-December.

Ted Wheeler’s re-emergence in Portland’s political psyche comes after the Mayor took a backseat during the holiday season, tweeting benign holiday-related content and bland anti-driving under the influence New Year’s Eve public service announcements since the N. Mississippi Ave. “Red House” was distributed back to the original property owners.

Wheeler’s press conference condemned protests on Jan. 1 in Downtown Portland, which Wheeler claims were perpetrated by “antifa and anarchists,” and called the events that transpired a “New Year’s Eve Riot.” Wheeler claims he has previously attempted to negotiate with protestors, but action downtown during New Year’s Day was apparently a breaking point for further tolerance and negotiation with groups Wheeler has declared “anarchists.”

Wheeler, the Commissioner of the Portland Police Bureau, claims in response to continued violence between police officers and law enforcement officials and protestors who he has labeled “Antifa anarchists,” “it will be necessary to use additional tools and to push the limits of tools [the Portland Police Bureau] already [has] to bring the criminal destruction and violence to an end.”

Wheeler additionally points a finger toward a specific demographic for inciting violence in downtown Portland, questioning, “why would a group of largely white, young and some middle aged men destroy the livelihood of others who are struggling to get by?”

Wheeler’s statement ironically highlights his hypocrisy and lack of awareness at his own actions. As recently as November 2020 Wheeler endorsed sweeps and removal of homeless camps in Laurelhurst Park in East Portland, he himself exemplifying a middle aged man supporting violence and removal of livelihoods of fellow Portlanders - many of whom are houseless, displaced, or unemployed during a recession, pandemic, and harsh Portland winter.

Wheeler endorsed the sweeps of camps in November, just one month before condemning other groups for allegedly “destroying the livelihood” of many while doing the same to others. Additionally, just weeks after the Laurelhurst Park displacement of hundreds of houseless Portland individuals and families, Mayor Wheeler took to Twitter again to acknowledge “Homeless Person’s Memorial Day,” a questionable sentiment from a Mayor with little proactive measures to support the wellbeing of the Portland houseless population.

Mayor Wheeler’s tweet reads, “Yesterday was Homeless Person’s Memorial Day when we remember our neighbors who have died homeless in the past year. In 2019, 113 homeless people died in Multnomah County. Homeless people live 47 years on average. The national average is 78. We must provide shelter and housing for everyone.”

Since Wheeler’s declaration of housing rights being human rights, he has done little to acknowledge the housing crisis beyond drafting increasingly harsh crime bills, which order “federal, state, county and local law enforcement to convene to deal with anarchist violence as soon as possible.”

[Deese, K. “Portland mayor blames antifa, anarchists following NYE riot”. The Hill. Jan 02, 2021.][Ramakrishnan, J. “Laurelhurst Park camp sweeps defended by Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Commissioner Dan Ryan”. The Oregonian. Nov 14, 2020.]

[“Wheeler calls out ‘antifa anarchists’ following NYE riot”. KOIN. Jan 02, 2021.]

[Wheeler, Ted (“Mayor Ted Wheeler”). Twitter. Dec 22, 2020. https://twitter.com/tedwheeler/status/1341536869561950208]