A Portland, Ore. TV reporter pressed Mayor Ted Wheeler Tuesday about whether his ineffectiveness at quelling the violence in his city over the past year played a role in last week’s riots on Capitol Hill.
During an interview with KATU reporter Genevieve Reaume, Wheeler vowed to hold those responsible for the unrest in Portland, which has garnered national attention following the death of George Floyd.
However, it was a question that tied the violence in his city to the Jan. 6 riot in Washington, D.C. that appeared to strike a nerve with the Democratic leader.
“Last week, we watched as pro-Trump supporters broke into the U.S. Capitol, the insurrection was unlike anything that this country has ever seen,” Reaume began. “But just three weeks ago, protesters broke into the Oregon state capitol. I have heard people at these protests elsewhere saying, ‘Well, they let it happen in Portland, so why not do it here?'”
“It seems that in same ways, the actions of these small groups that you’re referring to have set the stage for what has happened on a state level and potentially a national level,” Reaume continued. “I know you said that it will take time to crack down on these groups, but do we have that time?”
“Are you blaming me for what happened at the U.S. Capitol?” Wheeler snapped back. “I don’t buy that premise at all-“
“No, not at all, Mayor Wheeler,” Reaume responded. “What I’m saying is what I’ve heard at the protests is people say ‘We’ve seen this riotous behavior in Portland, so why not do it elsewhere like in Salem?'”
Wheeler told Reaume that “it doesn’t make it right” to replicate any violence, saying “Nobody gets to point to somebody else breaking the law and say, ‘They broke the law. Therefore, I can break the law.'”
“That’s not how it works,” Wheeler said. “We’re adults here.”
Earlier this month, Wheeler called out Antifa by name and vowed to bring “criminal destruction and violence to an end” after the riots in his city on New Year’s Eve.
“My good faith efforts at deescalation have been met with ongoing violence and even scorn from radical Antifa and anarchists,” Wheeler said during a news conference, according to KOIN. “In response, it will be necessary to use additional tools and push the limits of the tools we already have to bring the criminal destruction and violence to an end.”