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May 6, 21

Portland Residents and Community Members Respond to Ted Wheeler’s Calls for Vigilantism and Repression

The following statements are from community groups, local residents and organizers in Portland in response to Mayor Ted Wheeler’s dystopian call to criminalize protests and take vigilante action against demonstrators. Statements originally compiled by Rising PDX.

Several renunciations of Ted Wheeler’s call for vigilantism have been published. For instance, Don’t Shoot PDX, “a Black-led human rights nonprofit that advocates for community and accountability,” in a recent statement denouncing Wheeler, wrote

This past summer thousands of people were harmed by the actions of mayor Ted Wheeler and his lack of leadership. The lack of effort and engagement on issues of race and equity are further complicated by his use of force as police commissioner. Wheeler speaks repeatedly of ‘self described anarchists wanting to burn and bash’ and how ‘these people don’t want Portland to open back up’. His officers just shot and killed a man in our community last week – His name was Robert Delgado. Where was the call to action for his life that was stolen by the city of Portland, or the countless others who have been murdered and without justice in the last year alone? This ongoing terror has caused irreparable health and safety issues for so many vulnerable people.

In a state that was founded on exclusionary laws as a white utopia, there are generations of white supremacy at the very core of Portland culture. Yet you are enacting these calls of violence to the descendants of those families.

Portland, Oregon has its own share of Kyle Rittenhouses and Dylann Roofs who are waiting for this call from a higher authority. In a city that already harasses and racially profiles its minority communities, Ted Wheeler has exacerbated this with the explicit statements made at his recent press conference.

A recent editorial on Oregon Live from the Institute for Anarchist Studies argued:

In reality, who brings violence, havoc, and chaos to the streets of Portland? Which institution is able to murder people at will without consequence? And which elected officials refuse to hold these actors accountable, instead pointing a finger at those reacting to injustice?

Mayor Wheeler and the editorial board’s focus on the actions of militants in the streets is a distraction from talking about the social, economic, and political conditions that give rise to demonstrations in the first place. We urgently need to talk about why the Portland police can murder people at will, then viciously beat, shoot and attack those who confront this behavior. White supremacy and the institutions and actors who uphold it, not protests against these things, are what tear apart and create havoc in the Portland community.

On Twitter the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) of Oregon also Tweeted:

Today, @tedwheeler asked people to “take a stand” by tracking and calling the police on others for wearing black clothing. His comments are inappropriate, irresponsible, and dangerous. The police force is bad enough under @tedwheeler‘s watch – this is not the time to encourage vigilantes. After more than four years as police commissioner, Ted Wheeler must finally recognize the role that unchecked police violence has in escalating tension in Portland.

The following are individual statements from community members, clergy, and local organizers from across the Portland area.

Potato Bloc:

The recent statements from Mayor Wheeler in regards to encouraging profiling and violence against members of the community wearing black bloc or similar are condemned by all members of potato bloc. These statements are only going to increase the danger of harm to both the bloc and the community. We have seen what happens when white women call the cops — Black boys and men end up dead, to ask the community to increase the rate at which the police are contacted will only result in more deaths. The ill-trained and over armed murder squad operated by Tevis has no ability to de escalate or handle interpersonal communication and will only bring more danger to our communities. Black bloc is not violent. Violence is against people, not buildings and dumpsters. Property damage is a valid form of protest and will not be condemned by potato bloc, each has the right to express the injustices they have faced. Black bloc will continue to walk the streets as it is our right, we will not be swayed by threats of harm from the bourgeoisie, that is what brought us to the streets.

Anonymous Portlander:

Ted Wheeler is what fascism looks like at a local government level. There are so many reasons why I say this, but Ted Wheeler and everyone like him wants to convince us that property damage is a violent offense that deserves the harshest punishment, especially when it is in response to state-sanctioned murder. But property damage isn’t violence. Believing that windows and plywood have more value than human life is violence. The police riot whenever they can, cause chaos wherever they go, poisoning our lungs, our waterways, our homes, our soil, our communities. Is that not violence to you, Ted Wheeler? How many windows will break due to extreme weather conditions as this man-made climate crisis continues? In the end, those who serve capitalism are only facilitating their own property destruction.

Anonymous Portlander:

98 percent of my clothes is black clothes. If I am stop and frisk arrested by the Portland Police Bureau walking while wearing black clothes , I will sue the hell out of the City of Portland, I am a survivor of 13 years of organized cyberstalking, I will sue Ted Wheeler for this.

Rev. Alex Diblasi:

By singling out Black Bloc and activists who need to conceal their identity for a myriad of reasons, Ted Wheeler is recklessly endangering peaceful protesters exercising their First Amendment rights. Beneath the surface, Wheeler has essentially green-lit activists as targets for vigilantes and wannabe police. This is a chilling step.

A trumpet player:

According to Black Liberationists Dhoruba Bin Wahad, Modibo Kadalie, and other authorities on the subject, BLM has always stood for the Black Liberation Movement. It represents the ideals of the Black Liberation Army and radical, militant direct action by Black Revolutionaries and accomplices. The mother of Tamir Rice and many others have publicly called out venomous powermongers such as Ted Wheeler for co-opting BLM into a corporate liberal hashtag. The narrative that white anarchists are the sole or main source of radical direct action in so-called Portland and across the continent is nuclear-level racism. It attempts to erase the powerful resistance to ecocidal, genocidal and white supremacist settler colonialism by millions of Black, Indigenous and POC warriors. Ted. Fuck all the way off. Forever.  You want to make the fascism blatant and send us underground? You have a war on your hands that you haven’t begun to understand. Resign now, atone for your sins and find as much peace as you can during your remaining time on earth.

PNW Antifascist Workers Collective:

Fuck Ted Wheeler and fuck all his developer friends too. He’s a rich little boy defending his class interests.

Portland Ewoks:

We work to keep everyone in our community safe, especially our B/IPoC community who is disproportionately targeted by the police. The same absolutely cannot be said of Mayor Wheeler. If he truly cared about the healing and recovery of this community, he would hold accountable the racist, militarized police force of which he is commissioner. He would be holding Officer Zachary DeLong accountable, who just last week shot and killed an innocent man in Lents Park. This is the very least he should be doing, and yet he refuses. In fact, Ted and the police who serve under him have protected fascists for years. Rather than protect the most vulnerable in our city, he has waged war against the houseless in a remarkable display of racism, classism, and ableism. Because of this, community members doing volunteer outreach keep each other safe in spite of Ted’s efforts.

On April 23rd, the mayor decided to make a statement that was abhorrent and dangerous, and which highlighted the people whom Ted Wheeler truly serves: the property owners and well-off Portlanders who care more for their own prosperity than they care for those people who are constantly endangered by the Portland Police Bureau. The mayor has demonstrated the only community he serves is economically privileged, white and often fascist. His comments haven’t just put a target on the backs of those he disagrees with; they also incite random violence, harassment, and vigilantism against people who happen to look vaguely like protesters. The mayor has demonstrated yet again that he will not do what is right for the community as a whole. We call for his immediate resignation.

Portland Community Jail Support:

Ted Wheeler’s aggressive criminalization of protesters during a week of continued police violence and murder, including that of Robert Delgado in so-called Portland and children in other parts of the country, is fascistic. Wheeler’s valuation of private property over human life is beyond evident. Local media articles, quoting Wheeler’s public comments, repeatedly center businesses and business owners as the victims in the events of the past weeks. This is encouraging more public objection to broken windows than to police brutality and stolen lives. You can replace a window, you cannot replace a life.

Protesting incredibly unjust conditions is valid and the message needs to be understood: private property is not more valuable than human life. It is time for a radical revisioning of what we understand to be hostile. The very conditions that exist are incredibly hostile, and especially for Black, Indigenous, trans, and unhoused people. This city needs a radical revisioning of what it understands to be an acceptable response to an absolutely unacceptable status quo.

Community Jail Support does and will support all arrestees being released as well as unhoused neighbors in downtown Portland impacted daily by targeted police violence.

Anonymous Portlander:

I wear a black hoodie and black pants most days. I also work graveyard full time. I worry for myself and countless others that we could be targeted while not even attending a protest. I am left leaning, and I am radical, but those things are not defined by my clothes and appearance. If the mayor says to watch out for people like me, who do you think will do that? radical suburban whites. “ted wheeler says those damned window breakers look like this,” is so dangerous is while rile up the wrong people.

Long time Portland resident:

Portland is a beautiful city full of vibrant, loving, generous and kind souls surrounded by a vast wonderland of natural resources and abundant wealth.

And then there is Ted Wheeler who can’t lead his way out of a paper sack.

He takes up the space that should be filled by a thinking human with resources and executive decision making abilities.

Without a hint of empathy, compassion, or skill he spends his days hiding in terror from his indigenous constituents and worrying about his dating life rather than lead the city to a new renaissance of front line justice.

He could do so much. The ideas are there, the people power stands by, but alas, Tevis only escalates his failures.

He now gleefully sends poorly trained publicly funded murder squads to police fashion choices in our fair city, to create a database of license plates of people who may want to interrupt his nights out.

Ted’s lifestyle choices cost lives daily.

His failures cause our neighbors to languish outside and suffer through climate change extremes while our neighbors who need medical care are mercilessly shot down.

Ted Wheeler blithely continues the racist traditions the state of Oregon was founded on, deeply violent and cruel.

He knows we are hurting and need leaders to bring us forward.

He just doesn’t want to be one of them.

Abject laziness and ruthless cruelty, thy name is Tevis.

Tom Labonty:

When I was a kid, we were told that the soviet government encouraged its citizens to inform on each other, under the guise of promoting law and order. Then the story went, that neighbors disappeared, and everybody lived in fear of who may be listening and watching. This was told to us, to demonize the soviet union’s evil control over its citizenry…but, it now appears that the leadership of Portland has either forgotten this history, or maybe has remembered only its effectiveness.

J:

Black activists, including those of notoriety (I.e., MLK, Malcom X) often consider their worst enemy to be the white liberal. So what happens when a white liberal is elected into office? An absolute failure of leadership that oversees the most brutal police force in America. That is you, Ted Wheeler. On Friday, April 16th, 2021, Zachary DeLong, a Portland Police officer, murdered a Portland resident, Robert Delgado. DeLong is on paid leave, and, since we know history repeats itself, will likely return to work, despite the knowledge that he was nearly 100 feet away, and in video evidence, as well as per witness testimony, he is not seen to be armed. And that’s not to mention Patrick Kimmons, TeTe Gulley, and the other black people murdered. Not to mention the thousands of use of force incidents, many on video, where your officers slash tires, pepper spray restrained activists, and in some cases, beat them bloody. When supposed violence occurs against property, then, why is that more of an issue to you than the blatant police misconduct that we see in your city? Why is it that the people in black are somehow worse than the people in blue, despite quite a few having insignias tattooed on them linking them to the Proud Boys, which, shall I remind you, are a terrorist group in Canada. Are you a terrorist, Tevis? Me, you, and the rest of the community know that answer whether you like it or not. Your demonization of black bloc issues show me a psychotic desire to hurt your own citizens, and yes, that is deriving from your words from the press conference you held on April 23rd, 2021, a week after your police officer murdered Robert Delgado. The one you, out of pure disrespect for the Delgado family, held at the same time you held theirs. So you’re right, Ted. This community will not tolerate fascist violence. We all know your win was illegal, and one that ran on lies and smear campaigns. Your desire to hurt activists has not gone unnoticed by me or anyone else. This ends now, Tevis. Holding your police unaccountable ends now. Allowing them to harm people for harming lifeless property ends now. If you cared about black lives and your own citizens, you wouldn’t demonize the very people that the families of George Floyd and Robert Delgado have thanked, especially after tweeting about how George Floyd received justice. You don’t care, Tevis. You are a fraud, a fascist, and a terrorist. And you are quickly about to see how the community handles people like you.

Brooke Aderonmu:

Wearing black to a protest is not a crime. The Mayor of our city should know better than to use such a general description to justify writing down and reporting license plates or any other type of surveillance. This puts innocent people at risk for harassment, stalking, and police brutality. This is profiling and it is not okay in any form.

Morgan Waites:

I’m Morgan Waites, a legal assistant in Portland and frequent protester that opposes the violent, racist, murderous oppressors of the Portland Police. The fact that they are defended by Mayor Ted Wheeler, who refuses to defund them despite the community pleas and hundreds of days of protest, shows he doesn’t care about the community. He must resign. The police must be defunded by 50% at least and the gradual path to abolishment be initiated with clear intentions that do not leave Portland in the dark or deceive them. The officer(s) that killed Delgado must be fired and arrested and charged. Ted has terrorized the community with tear gas, sanctioning police brutality and unlawful arrest, criminalizing protesting, while allowing police to pollute the environment. I do not care about property destruction of businesses and capitalists with insurance in the wake oflives being stolen and ruined by police with impunity.

Brittany & Adam Aigal, Montavilla residents:

Asking the public to police their neighbors and project their already skewed biases onto our community is outright dangerous. We know this will give incentive to blue lives matter folks to take power into their own hands and do it under the guise of protecting their community and supporting police. This is how Kyle Rittenhouse was emboldened to murder people. Resign now Ted Wheeler!

G money:

Only been here 2 years and it’s a shame that after all the money Ted Wheeler and his police goon squad get they can’t do a better job taking care of Portland. It’s 2021 there’s no excuse for how the police have acted and how Ted Wheeler has acted. All that money they take from our taxes. We deserve better. They can do better. If they do not do better they need to step aside and let someone who can. You don’t get to take my taxes and kill my people in the street Teddy.

Tasha:

Not really sure what to say specifically, but I happened to unintentionally park in the kettle. Got ripped out of my car by ppd, attempted arrest but luckily press was there but was still detained. Photos of my license plates were taken as well as me unmasked, with my full name and birth date.

Anonymous Portlander:

I have been a resident of Portland almost my entire adult life. I am an active community member, I live, work, go to school, pay my taxes, and contribute my time to nonprofits all in the city of Portland. I would like to express my disappointment in the mayor Ted Wheeler for his blatant disrespect for the safety of the people of his city by sending police to peaceful protests and escalating them to the point of violence. I have seen with my own eyes Portland police officers instigate violence, assault protestors and media personnel, tear gas peaceful protests in Portland neighborhoods where people live. These behaviors and much more absolutely unacceptable and unlawful acts by the Portland Police are condoned by the mayor in his silence and in his decisions to send police to protests. This is a clear display of carelessness for the safety of the citizens of Portland. I and no other person in this country should have fear to protest for what they feel is right. The right to do so is at the heart of our democracy and at the heart of our country. You, mayor Ted Wheeler, were elected by the people and I ask you to please act in the interest of the people. I ask you to demilitarize, defund, and disarm the Portland Police force. I also urge you to openly condemn police brutality against protestors and stop sending police to invite violence in our streets.

Shaping Progress:

Shaping Progress fully supports the removal of Ted Wheeler from office. His constant displays of ignorance and ineptitude don’t reflect the community’s values, but what they do reflect are the failures of our local government. The gaslighting about BIPOC communities who are attempting to break free from the cycle of oppression and carelessness Wheeler oversees must stop, and should never have taken place. What the BIPOC and homeless communities have endured throughout this struggle for the soul of our city is not mentioned often enough, and we stand in solidarity with them, and those affected by the tragedies that result from these miscarriages of leadership. Until there is true justice for the victims of PPB and the City of Portland, any peace in the lives of these officials should be understood as the waning privilege (not afforded to the constituents they refuse to involve) that it is.

Lori Eberly:

I am a twenty-year resident of Portland, a social worker, and a woman-owned business owner. I have witnessed PPB repeatedly abuse their power at protests in Portland. They endanger the lives of our mentally ill and houseless citizens. Their brutal use of force and sanctioned violence is a detriment to our community and representative of a deeply racist system. I have no trust in PPB or Ted Wheeler. Our civil rights are under attack.

Anonymous Portlander:

Ted Wheeler’s criminalization of protests and black bloc is exemplary of facist behavior. It is our constitutional right to assemble and to protest. Ted Wheeler is purposefully ignoring the complaints that the people he governs are SCREAMING at the top of their lungs. Criminalizing protesting is not going to make destroying businesses go away. You know what will? Getting the police to stop killing marginalized people and hurting anyone protesting that. Fire and properly convict murderous police officers. Ted Wheeler pretended to stand by us against the Feds meanwhile PPB were doing the EXACT same thing. This man is a war criminal.

Mark Mittelstaet:

There is only one statement I can make about this gross exhibition of white supremacist neoliberalism: fuck you, Ted. Find somewhere else to grift already so this city can get a break from your intolerable shit-eating breath.

Comrade Waffles:

This dude has legit lost it.

[in Jello Biafra:]

It’s the suede denim secret police! We have come for your uncool niece!

Can you imagine actually uttering this thought outside of the confines of the void of your authoritarian mind?

Well now you don’t have to!

[ enter Billy Mays]

Because

Oh right!

Hi

I’m Billy Mays

And for just

[reads hand]

And for just uhhh

For just five easy payments of 19.95

You TOO can spout whatever tf you want as if it was actually achievable

Is it constitutional?

FUCK it!

Constitution Schlongstitution!

And if you have any objections

You will be IN an institution!

Ahuh

Ahuhhuh

Kill me now is this reality?

Fuck it!

I could sell increased legislation to a sovereign citizen

Why not?

Fuck it!

Goth is illegal now

Do your kids need more cause to feel edgy?

Cause their attire is literally illegal now

No longer will their peers jeer and sneer

Whispering

“She really thinks she’s mysterious in that heartagram shirt”

Because now

She can legitimately claim to be a threat to the state

She is literally a terrorism suspect

Oh

You thought this was a PHASE Deborah?

Honey

You better stock up on that Woolite for darks

We’re talking early adult to late forties teen angst

I can’t help it

Soy Dark

The children scoured the city

But alas all presses of Depeche on vinyl

GONE

No more Gary Numan for you

Not even

That’s right sweetie

Not even The Chauffeur by Duran Duran

[every 80s goth collectively gasps]

And you know what else?

I’m just gonna say it

No Danzig

No Skinny Pupppy

Why

Not even 80s Madonna

You’re wearing pink, my friend

You’re now a normie

As always

By royal decree

Amen

Pass the salt

Because I’m placing a banishing rail of protection on your entire wardrobe

(Try not to snort it, PPB)

Sincerely

Management

Total Recall PAC:

Total Recall PAC echoes the concerns of community members and civil rights leaders regarding the dangerous statements made by Mayor and Police Commissioner Ted Wheeler on April 23rd. Statements like these do not serve to heal our city, but rather create further division. Turning residents against one another will not lead to meaningful changes in Portland, and city leadership should not use such divisive rhetoric to hide from accountability.

Mayor Wheeler’s comments are a call for vigilantism and pose an immediate danger to Portlanders. For over a year, this city has seen nightly protests against police violence. Now, after failing to reflect on his own shortcomings as a public servant and mediator, Wheeler calls for violence not just from police, but from our neighbors. Wheeler’s statements were made at the same time as a previously scheduled press conference held by the family of Robert Delgado — the eleventh person killed by Portland Police since Wheeler took office. Our mayor says he condemns destruction of any kind, but shows no remorse for the destruction done to the bodies and the lives of Portlanders at the hands of his police force.

Wheeler’s comments constitute calls for violence, just as Donald Trump’s calls for his followers to take back the election and save the country resulted in an attempted coup on January 6th with multiple fatalities. Like Trump, Wheeler is also recklessly weighing in on criminal charges by advocating for harsh and retributive sentences for political purposes. Words have power, and powerful people have an inherent responsibility to know when their words will cause harm — as Ted Wheeler’s words undoubtedly have.

We will hold irresponsible leaders accountable. Wheeler’s statements were inflammatory, authoritarian, and showed flagrant disregard for the safety of Portlanders. Join us in firing Portland’s failed mayor by supporting our campaign to recall Ted Wheeler.

Portland Interfaith clergy resistance:

Portland Interfaith Clergy Resistance affirms our support for our Black, Brown, and Indigenous neighbors in the struggle for liberation from the scourges of racism, poverty, and militarism too long perpetuated by the City of Portland.

We are a collective of faith leaders from throughout Portland — Christian, Jewish, Wiccan, and more; straight and queer, Black, white, Latinx, and of the Asian-American and Pacific Island communities. We are faith leaders who declare ourselves of one voice with our allies who have risen up to denounce the damage Mayor Wheeler does repeatedly to us all in ignoring the roots of the social ills of our city, and thereby exacerbating them, by ignoring the will of his constituents by seeking to expand police power, and by speaking of the value of property rather than that of human life.

We denounce the efforts of the Mayor of Portland to create divisions among members of the Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities; we decry Mayor Wheeler’s attempt to demonize those who express their frustration at being unheard in the streets; we are tired of his empty words and meaningless acts. The mayor surrounds himself with members of the Black community and members of the faith community, yet those with whom he seeks to display a message of common cause do not represent the breadth and diversity of experience and perspective of Black or of faith communities in Portland, nor do they speak for our common cause of liberation.

Enough empty window-dressing, Mayor Wheeler; this is a time to break through such facades which do not serve justice. We have witnessed the deadly combination of incompetence and disinterest in the welfare of the citizens of Portland coming from the mayor’s office for too long now. For nearly a decade Portland’s police have been known to prey upon the mentally ill and the mayor has done nothing to support efforts to redress that terror. His policies ignore the urgency of the social movement that has filled our streets again and again with people desperate for change. His heart seems to be too small to empathize with the human beings who are gassed by his police, who continue to use weapons of war outlawed by the Geneva convention, and whose militaristic violence bruises, batters, and maims Portland’s citizens.

Wearing black is not a criminal act. Protesting is a sacred constitutional right. We are aghast at Mayor Wheeler’s disregard for the social injustice fueling the actions on Portland’s streets.

⁦A day is coming! We affirm the words of our allies who spoke in front of city hall on Saturday, April 24: the forces of justice are marching, and they will not cease to march. And we will be with them, witnessing and lifting up their holy call for justice.

“Justice, justice you must pursue if you would thrive.” — Deuteronomy 16.20

Symbiosis PDX:

Dear Ted Wheeler,

We do not recognize your authority in the city of Portland. The role of Mayor is an archaic hierarchical office designed to enshrine the power of the capitalist white supremacist power structure you serve. As the masses of poor and oppressed and marginalized communities continue to rise in this city we hope to see your office abolished along with the brutal criminal syndicate known as the Portland Police Bureau.

As you call for vigilante action against youth and freedom fighters in the street to “take back Portland” for you and your white supremacist capitalist cronies, we condemn the entire notion of property of which you aim to protect over the lives of the thousands of poor people in this city. Property and rent must be abolished as must your office. Power must be restored to the grassroots, to directly democratic community councils that give all people’s equal power in our communities. Until then we will continue to struggle against the hierarchical forces of your office, the PPB and the capitalists class you serve.

photo: Skylor Powell via Unsplash

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