Really? Two weeks ago, DHS Secretary Chad Wolf was at least available in the same city as Ted Wheeler, but the mayor publicly disdained the very idea of a meeting. And Wheeler made that disdain very well known at the time as well:
A number of people have asked if I know DHS leadership is in town, and if I’m going to meet with them. We’re aware that they’re here. We wish they weren’t. We haven’t been invited to meet with them, and if we were , we would decline.
— Mayor Ted Wheeler (@tedwheeler) July 16, 2020
What a difference a fresh deployment of fifty more officers makes. Now Wheeler and commissioner JoAnn Hardesty are demanding a meeting with DHS to determine how to implement a “cease fire.” That seems rather fatuous, as the mayor and the commissioner have the means for such an outcome in their own hands:
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty are requesting a meeting with Department of Homeland Security leadership “to discuss a ceasefire and removal of heightened federal forces from Portland.”
Monday evening’s statement is a turnabout for Wheeler, who previously said he wouldn’t meet with DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf even if he was invited.
Wheeler had a phone conversation with Wolf two weeks ago. He said he wanted federal officers off Portland streets, and then “asked him to clean up the graffiti on local federal facilities.”
Hardesty, a longtime police reform advocate, has also denounced federal officers being in Portland. She has also been critical of Wheeler’s leadership during the protests, even going as far as telling the mayor, who is also the police commissioner, that if he “can’t control the police, give me the Portland Police Bureau.”
Er … how will Wheeler negotiate a cease-fire? Does he lead one of the combatant factions? Wheeler isn’t demanding a cease-fire — he’s demanding that the Trump administration partner in his surrender.
The answer from DHS to Wheeler’s stand-down demand appears to be a big, hearty naah for the moment. The Washington Post reported shortly after Wheeler suddenly found time on his schedule for a meeting that DHS will deploy fifty more officers to Portland to support the agents already under fire:
The U.S. Marshals Service decided last week to send more deputies to Portland, according to an internal email reviewed by The Washington Post, with personnel beginning to arrive last Thursday night. The Department of Homeland Security is also considering a plan to send an additional 50 U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel to the city, according to senior administration officials involved in the federal response who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations.
Such moves would mark a significant expansion of the federal force operating at the Portland federal courthouse — there were 114 federal agents there in mid-July — though it is unclear how many existing personnel could be sent home after the arrival of at least 100 reinforcements, according to internal Marshals emails.
That would not be necessary if Portland police could protect federal property. Under Wheeler’s direction, Portland police haven’t been able to protect much of anything, let alone keep the peace. These riots have been going on for more than 60 days now, and the deployment of federal officers became necessary when it became clear that Wheeler wasn’t going to gain control of the situation. And because it’s still clear that Wheeler isn’t going to gain control of the situation, DHS can’t pull its agents out of the federal properties they are defending.
Is that Hardesty’s point? Likely not; Hardesty has been an advocate of policing reform and retreat, not assertiveness. At least Hardesty has identified the point of failure correctly — in part. Wheeler’s not alone in responsibility for policing and maintaining public peace, and the sixty-plus days of violent demonstrations are a failure of the entire civic leadership. It won’t be long before voters — even in Portland — reach the same conclusion.
Even the Black Lives Matter leadership is beginning to worry about backfire. “They’re telling people that if they see acts of violence downtown,” KOIN reporter Wayne Havrelly said, “they say it’s time to go home. They say that doesn’t represent the movement.” Actually, it increasingly does represent the movement — and that’s what worries BLM activists. Lie down with Antifa, get up with violent-anarchy fleas. At some point, voters will get sick and tired of the violence and start putting people in office who will pledge to end it rather than appease it. Hopefully, soon.