Is Portland finally cleaning out Antifa?

AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus

I’m not trying to get anyone’s hopes up too quickly given all the history we have to draw upon, but there are at least some signs that the municipal government of Portland, Oregon may actually be considering a return to the rule of law and an end to the chaos that has characterized the city’s streets for well over a year. Stepping out into what the New York Post describes as “the rolling riot” in Portland, police have arrested and charged more than two dozen Antifa suspects. They are accused of a collection of violent crimes dating back to 2020. This must have come as a surprise to the rioters and thugs who have probably become used to being given rock star treatment by the city, despite the trail of murders, assaults, and mayhem they’ve left in their wake. So what caused this sudden change of heart and is there any chance that it will continue?

After a year of anarchy and unchecked violence, prosecutors are finally doing something about Antifa’s rolling riot in Portland, Ore.: These last two weeks have seen more than two dozen suspected Antifa thugs charged for an assortment of violent crimes dating as far back as November.

It shouldn’t have taken a whole year of watching protesters pelt police with Molotov cocktails and destroy local businesses to realize that the “do nothing” strategy wasn’t working, but here we are.

It’s a notable turnaround for District Attorney Mike Schmidt, who after taking office last August refused to prosecute 90 percent of riot- and protest-related cases.

As to the cause of this newly discovered penchant for law and order, that may be tough to prove. But it’s being suggested that it might have something to do with the fact that Mayor Ted Wheeler began receiving death threats last month after he promised that his government was preparing to “take back our city.” I suppose it’s okay when the rioters are attacking and injuring police officers, but it’s something else entirely when they threaten to come after the Mayor himself.

These arrests also appear to be a significant change of pace for Portland District Attorney Mike Schmidt. As noted in the excerpt above, in 2020, Schmidt declined to prosecute 90% of cases for people charged with violent actions during the riots. At the time, the man appointed as the top law enforcement official for the city was quoted as saying that change “sometimes requires property damage,” and that it would take “more than just peaceful protests to get the government’s attention.” Yes, you read that correctly. That was the District Attorney speaking. And Antifa was clearly listening.

It’s often been said in the history of American politics that this or that elected official “came along just at the perfect time.” In Portland, Oregon, we’ve seen precisely the opposite. Ted Wheeler and Mike Schmidt arrived at a moment when the citizens of the city arguably needed them more than at any time in living memory. The city was about to be inundated with violent thugs posing as activists. But rather than protecting the city while allowing true peaceful protests and expressions of opinion, these two jokers emboldened Antifa and stood back to watch while the police were attacked and businesses burned to the ground. They couldn’t have participated any more fully in the destruction if they had spread kerosene across the streets and lit the match themselves.

So where do we go from here? A couple of dozen arrests is a good start, but it’s only a start. If this was done only for the purpose of generating a few positive headlines before Wheeler and Schmidt crawl back into their shells, Antifa will be out there this weekend burning down the town again. Much like the situation in Baltimore, however, I still won’t be urging anyone to have any sympathy for the residents of the city. I’ll give full credit to the people who have been organizing the recall effort against Wheeler, but if a majority of the denizens of the city can’t be made to understand that he needs to be replaced, then they deserve every building that burns down. Oh, and the police in Portland really need to step up their plans to retire or quit and move to a city that actually appreciates and respects them.