As anger has been bubbling back up among demonstrators, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who also serves as the city’s police commissioner, held a news conference on Thursday in which he likened some of the protesters’ actions to attempted murder. He pointed to a Wednesday night incident in which he said protesters barricaded exits to the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct building using cars and wooden planks and disabled security cameras, starting a fire that “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 who you have intentionally trapped inside, you are not demonstrating, you are attempting to commit murder,” Wheeler said, according to video posted by news station KPTV. “You are creating the B-roll film that will be used in ads nationally to help Donald Trump during his campaign. If you don’t want to be part of that, then don’t show up.”
Those comments riled many people who drew comparisons to the language used by President Trump, who said in an Axios interview last week that Wheeler was “lucky he got away with his life” amid crowds of protesters who were criticizing his leadership during a demonstration where he was affected by federal officers’ tear gas.
The Portland police union president also lashed out at protesters in a heated letter on Thursday, claiming that Portland has been “filled with violence” after protesters set fire to a trash can leaned against the boarded-up wall of a police precinct.
“I am disgusted that our City has come to this,” Daryl Turner, the police union president, said.