Jazz wrote about this last weekend. After the most recent rampage through the city by black bloc anarchists aka Antifa, Mayor Ted Wheeler is talking tough and promising to unleash the police. The mayor’s tough talk seems to have been prompted by a letter a group of black leaders wrote basically calling on the anarchists to knock it off. However, shortly after his remarks, Wheeler was criticized by some black leaders who denied they were trying to separate themselves from other protesters, which is sort of par for the course in Portland.
In any case, Wheeler’s threats to crackdown on anarchists certainly made news. The NY Times covered the story yesterday and added some reactions from people in Portland who are disgusted by what the city has become:
After the protests have concluded, sometimes in the early morning hours, Margaret Carter finds herself climbing into her gray Toyota Camry and cruising the streets of Portland so she can see the latest damage for herself.
Ms. Carter, 85, has been downtown to the Oregon Historical Society, where demonstrators have twice smashed out the windows, recently scrawling “No More History” on the side of the building. She has driven past the local headquarters of the Democratic Party, where windows have also been shattered. Last week, she found herself at the Boys & Girls Club in her own neighborhood, nearing tears at the scene of costly window destruction at a place she has worked so hard to support.
“Portland was a beautiful city,” said Ms. Carter, who was the first Black woman elected to the Oregon Legislative Assembly and is now retired. “Now you walk around and see all the graffiti, buildings being boarded up. I get sick to my stomach. And I get angry.”
The Times also spoke to Eric Murfitt, a small businessman who runs a high-end clothing boutique. “Do we want to live in chaos where there are no laws, no police, no accountability? Or do we want to live in a civil society?” Murfitt said. He’s been a victim of the vandals. Last May his store suffered nearly $1 million in damage. His insurance company refused to renew his policy. He eventually found another policy but this one costs four times as much and does not cover damage caused by civil unrest. In short, if the mob comes back his business is done.
After seeing this go on for years in Portland, it’s good to hear the Mayor fight back, but keep in mind that he’s done this before. Last August he denounced the rioting and promised to do something about it. Eight months later he’s denouncing it once again which seems like a pretty clear indication his first effort didn’t accomplish very much. Maybe in another eight months he’ll come out and denounce Antifa again. By then the number of riots might reach triple digits.
To be fair, Mayor Wheeler doesn’t deserve all the blame for the fact that his city is a wreck. Part of it falls on lunatic Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty who is eager to defund the Portland PD while also feeling free to call 911 because her Lyft driver was rude. Hardesty recently decided she’d also had enough of anarchists setting fires in the city. Believe it or not, denouncing arson actually counts as political progress in Portland. Most of the reporters covering the riots are still careful not to photograph anyone’s faces when they’re setting fires. Wouldn’t want to help the police.
And then there’s Multnomah County DA Mike Schmidt whose first act in office was dropping charges against dozens of anarchists. He’s talking tough too:
Mr. Schmidt said he was frustrated that people were still engaging in property destruction, noting cases like the Boys & Girls Club.
“These are not just attacks on windows,” he said. “These are attacks on our community. These are attacks on the values of who we are.”
Progressive DAs have mastered the art of talking tough while doing everything they can to make sure the rioters face no consequences. If Mayor Wheeler really wanted to talk tough he could start by denouncing Schmidt as a failure who is undermining efforts to end the riots.
As is often the case, the comments on any piece at the NY Times are often better than the article. This one is no exception:
I live in Portland and work downtown. And yes, I’m a typical Portlander: a flannel-wearing, ebike-riding, Bernie Sanders-supporting Democrat. But this police crackdown is the best news I’ve heard all year.
It’s really weird living in a city where about 200 people can violently riot with impunity. It’s way past time the police intervene to stop this nonsense.
Another reader from Portland writes:
These vandals are protesters in title only. A year ago I saw thousands of citizens peacefully marching in the early evening through the streets of Portland. Within a few weeks these numbers dwindled to around 200 people who only protested in the middle of the night, and destroyed property. I’ve often asked myself why do they protest in the dark when nobody can see them? Why protest to empty streets? The answer, of course, is simple. They are not protesters. They are vandals using protest as an excuse to cause damage. Sadly, the government of Portland has been reluctant to respond to these criminals. Ted Wheeler, who has been woefully ineffective as a mayor, has led a city council of gutless politicians. He was recently reelected only because he was the least offensive of the three people who ran for mayor. He won by default and not because of his passive leadership skills. Downtown is a disaster that didn’t have to happen. The government of Portland is as much to blame for this reckless chaos as the vandals. This city can once again become progressive and beautiful, but it will take courage and work. Cracking down after a year of this begs the question, “Where have you been all this time?”
And one more who lists his location as Oregon:
I have lived in Oregon for almost forty years now. And during that time, there has always been a group of outsiders, anarchists I guess they call themselves, who seek out any opportunity to vandalize and create mayhem. The individuals come and go, of course, but the group remains essentially unchanged. The only difference now is that they are hiding themselves behind the mask of politics. But they are basically just punks. They are destroying our city, and many of us, even progressives, would like to see them bundled up and deboarded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It is truly mind-boggling how quickly this city has disintegrated.
Portland should have clamped down on Antifa in 2016 when the rioting started. The fact that they still haven’t managed it 4 1/2 years later is a testament to the failure of progressive government.