Portland, Ore., Mayor Ted Wheeler was among the protesters tear-gassed Wednesday evening by an assortment of Department of Homeland Security agents President Donald Trump has deployed to the city amid unrest and mass demonstrations against racial injustice and police brutality.
Videos of the protests circulating online show the mayor’s encounter with federal officers came after he waded into crowds of protesters and was confronted by calls for his resignation and various law enforcement reforms.
Wheeler then apparently walked to the city’s federal courthouse, which has become a focal point of the protests, where he and others were targeted by the officers with volleys of tear gas.
A hodgepodge of U.S. government forces has occupied Portland since the July 4 weekend after DHS officials claimed they received intelligence regarding “planned attacks” on federal facilities there.
The city’s protests, which emerged in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing in May by Minneapolis police, have now continued for more than 50 consecutive days.
But Democratic local and state leaders have reported that the newly installed federal presence only escalated the unrest in Portland. Those elected officials have demanded that Trump withdraw the officers from the city.
Trump announced plans Wednesday to surge law enforcement units to Chicago and Albuquerque as part of an operation that will send hundreds of officers from several federal agencies to both cities “to help drive down violent crime.”
The latest example of domestic intervention comes as Trump’s reelection campaign remains seemingly imperiled by his response to the coronavirus pandemic and America’s reckoning on matters of race.
Trailing badly in public polling, Trump has focused increasingly on projecting a message of “law and order” while focusing on cultural flashpoints including the ongoing protests, the Confederate flag and memorials to controversial historical figures.