The Democratic mayor of Portland Ted Wheeler said Saturday he is ‘grateful’ to President Joe Biden for rescinding Donald Trump‘s order allowing an influx of federal agents to help quell riots that gripped the city last summer.
The executive order, issued in July, directed agents to protect monuments, statues and federal property as violent mobs ransacked Oregon‘s largest city following demonstrations sparked by George Floyd‘s murder.
The order is one of several issued by Trump that Biden has now rescinded, prompting Wheeler to tweet: ‘Thankful for the support of the current administration.’
Ted Wheeler – Mayor of Portland, Oregon – on Saturday welcomed news President Biden had rescinded a Trump executive order dispatching federal troops to help quell riots
Wheeler tweeted in response to a post from an advocacy group: ‘Thankful for the support of the current administration’
The mayor, who narrowly won re-election in November, had described the presence of hundreds of federal agents in military gear as an attack on democracy after they were sent by Trump to protect the federal courthouse, which became a target of vandalism.
Portland saw 100 days of often violent protests sparked by George Floyd’s death on May 25, for which former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder last month.
Trump blasted ‘sick and deranged anarchists and agitators’ for fueling the violence, which included arson, looting and vandalism, while a right-wing protester was shot and killed in the aftermath of a clash between protesters and counter-protesters.
The protests became even more violent after the deployment, with the federal courthouse becoming ground zero for clashes between demonstrators and police.
Local politicians criticized agents for using tear gas and pepper spraying demonstrators before putting them into unmarked vehicles.
Meanwhile, a federal report last month found agents did not have proper anti-riot training and there was no plan for operating without the help of local police.
The deployment, which began June 4, had cost $12.3 million by August 31 while damage to Portland’s federal courthouse was estimated at roughly $1.6 million, the report found.
The agents sent to Portland were from an alphabet soup of agencies, including the Federal Protective Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Secret Service.
Protesters setting fires inside the barricaded perimeter of the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse in Portland on July 22
Federal officers fire less-lethal rounds and tear gas into the crowd during a protest in Portland on July 29
At the same time as the protests, Portland – one of the whitest major cities in America was experiencing its deadliest year in more than a quarter-century, with shootings that overwhelmingly affected black people.
Despite the upsurge in violence, Mayor Wheeler and City Council caved in to activists’ calls to cut several police programs from the budget, including a specialized unit focused on curbing gun violence.
Some families believe this decision cost lives, although officials and experts attribute increased gun violence in cities nationwide to the hardships of the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment, economic anxiety and stress on mental health.
‘Without a doubt, I think it is a possibility that my nephew could still be alive if (the Gun Violence Reduction Team) was not dissolved,’ said Elmer Yarborough, whose nephew was shot and killed last summer.
Portland descended into chaos again on May Day, with Antifa rioters shattering windows and vandalizing buildings belonging to businesses as government agencies in unrest that saw five people arrested.
It came just days after Mayor Wheeler vowed to ‘unmask’ anarchist mobs causing chaos in the city.
The pledge of a crackdown led him to receive an anonymous voice-recorded death threat, while in January he was punched in the face by activists backing the protests.
Although 97 people were arrested and had charges filed against them in connection to protests that took place between May and October of last year, 58 cases have either been dismissed completely or will be scrapped under deferred resolution agreements.
A further 32 cases are also pending with many also likely to be dismissed, Fox News reported.
Federal officers in military gear go head to head with protesters outside the federal courthouse on July 30
A portable bathroom that was set on fire by protesters during riots in Portland on April 16
Other Trump executive orders rescinded by Biden this weekend the former president’s July instruction to create a garden of monuments to ‘American Heroes’ in response to damage to statues across the U.S.
It comes as Biden was condemned for issuing a Police Week statement highlighting the ‘deep sense of distrust’ black Americans feel towards cops in the wake of high-profile police custody deaths.
The President of the United States’ statement, issued Saturday, said distrust of the police had been ‘exacerbated’ by high profile police custody deaths.
Biden said: ‘This year, we also recognize that in many of our communities, especially Black and brown communities, there is a deep sense of distrust towards law enforcement; a distrust that has been exacerbated by the recent deaths of several Black and brown people at the hands of law enforcement.
‘These deaths have resulted in a profound fear, trauma, pain, and exhaustion for many Black and brown Americans, and the resulting breakdown in trust between law enforcement and the communities they have sworn to protect and serve ultimately makes officers’ jobs harder and more dangerous as well.’
Texas Representative Ronny Jackson was among those who condemned Biden over his remarks. The Republican – who served as White House physician to both Barack Obama and Donald Trump before taking office – tweeted: ‘We’ve gone from ‘Back the Blue’ to ‘Bash the Blue’ in one administration.
‘I’m still DISGUSTED that Biden would use his official Police Week statement to suggest that every Cop is a racist. Democrat hatred for our police is outright REPULSIVE.’
It comes as Biden was condemned for issuing a Police Week statement highlighting the ‘deep sense of distrust’ black Americans feel towards cops in the wake of high-profile police custody deaths