Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler amped up his critique of federal law enforcement dispatched to Portland Tuesday, tweeting that the officers were bringing violence and “life-threatening tactics” to the city’s streets.
“The best thing they can do is stay inside their building, or leave Portland altogether,” Wheeler tweeted Tuesday afternoon. “Our goal is to end these violent demonstrations quickly and safely.”
Earlier in the day, Wheeler had taken to Twitter to respond to President Donald Trump’s remarks that the federal government had done “a great job” quelling protests and could do it again with ease.
The mayor wrote that Trump’s “heavy-handed” approach had led to a serious injury over the weekend and inflamed already high tensions.
The comments were the mayor’s most direct public criticism yet of the presence of federal officers, who have been dispatched by the federal government to protect federal buildings and personnel.
Over the weekend, after one of these officers severely injured a protester, Wheeler released a statement saying the injury “should not have happened.” Wheeler asked the federal government to be “thorough and transparent” with their investigation into the incident. During a press conference on Monday, Wheeler said he had no problem with the officers protecting their facilities, but wanted to see them stay off the streets where he said they were escalating an already tense situation.
On Tuesday, Wheeler wrote that he had spoken with Chad Wolf, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, who had asked to speak about the protests and offer the agency’s help, according to Wheeler.
But the mayor said he declined.
“I told the Acting Secretary that my biggest immediate concern is the violence federal officers brought to our streets in recent days, and the life-threatening tactics his agents use,” he wrote. “We do not need or want their help.”
The mayor added that he had asked Wolf to clean up the federal buildings in Portland, which have been covered with graffiti since the nightly protests against police brutality began.
Wheeler’s remarks come the same day that several Democrats in Oregon’s congressional delegation sent a letter to Wolf and Attorney General William Barr condemning the tactics used by federal agents and calling the federal response to protests “intolerable.”
The letter, signed by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici, asked nine pointed questions of the agency heads concerning the presence of federal officers in Oregon. They demanded answers by July 21.