News & Politics

Did Trump Shame Portland's Mayor Into Putting Down the Autonomous Zone? Sure Looks That Way...

Twitter screenshot (@HungryBowTie)

On Tuesday night, antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters and anarchists attempted to seize property in Portland in the same way agitators seized property in Seattle, setting up the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) Occupied Protest (CHOP). As PJ Media’s Jeff Reynolds reported, the Portland anarchists called the area the Chinook Land Autonomous Territory (CLAT), since the land was allegedly stolen from Native Americans. While CHAZ/CHOP endured for weeks, CLAT barely lasted 36 hours. Why?

At first, it seems the prospect for an “autonomous zone” might be rosier in Portland than it was in Seattle. After all, antifa rioters have terrorized the streets of Portland with relative impunity for years. As Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf put it, “The city of Portland has been under siege for 47 straight days by a violent mob while local political leaders refuse to restore order to protect their city. Each night, lawless anarchists destroy and desecrate property, including the federal courthouse, and attack the brave law enforcement officers protecting it.”

Antifa rioters broke windows, covered the Justice Center courthouse with profane graffiti, burned an elk statue, shot off fireworks and incendiary devices at the federal courthouse, and … set up an “autonomous zone.” Some rioters have carried firearms, including the driver of a vehicle who attempted to hit a police officer with his car.

Yet in the wee hours of Thursday morning, police cleared out Chapman Square Park and Lownsdale Square Park, where antifa had set up the CLAT. Police reported closing down the parks at 5:10 a.m., arresting nine individuals for trespass and disorderly conduct. “People were provided ten minutes to leave the park. At about 5:10 a.m. Portland Police walked through the parks to be sure everyone received the message the parks were closed and move people out of the parks to the north.”

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Police reported that “the parks will remain closed until needed repairs are made and the parks are ready to reopen for all to enjoy. The Police Bureau will assist other City bureaus to facilitate park closure and repair to lawns, bathrooms, benches and public art.”

Police also released pictures of the devastation the antifa rioters caused.

Portland Police were right to clear out the “autonomous zone.” When anarchists seize public property, they deprive taxpayers of their rightful access to it. Following the weeks of antifa occupation in Seattle, 16 residents and businesses sued the City of Seattle, alleging that the city failed to protect their rights by not taking action to restore law and order in the CHOP area.

But Portland’s mayor didn’t seem the type…

Yet Mayor Ted Wheeler (D-Portland) did not seem the type to put down a lawless occupation. When President Donald Trump sent federal troops to help restore order in Portland, Wheeler accused him of having “escalated” the violence.

“The President did not quell it, he escalated it. His heavy-handed tactics led to a serious injury and enflamed an already tense situation,” the mayor tweeted.

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On Tuesday, as antifa rioters were setting up their “autonomous zone,” Wolf called Wheeler, expressing his “concern about ongoing violence” and asking how the Department of Homeland Security can help.

Wheeler effectively spat in his face. “I told the Acting Secretary that my biggest immediate concern is the violence federal officers brought to our streets in recent days, and the life-threatening tactics his agents use. We do not need or want their help,” the mayor shot back. “The best thing they can do is stay inside their building, or leave Portland altogether. Our goal is to end these violent demonstrations quickly and safely. And in the meantime, I asked him to clean up the graffiti on local federal facilities.”

Wolf flew into Portland on Thursday, and Wheeler acknowledged his presence in town. The mayor insisted that even if he were invited to meet with Wolf, he would not. “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.”

Given the weeks of non-stop violence in Portland, this attitude is disgusting. Rather than welcoming federal help in putting down a violent mob, Wheeler is trying to spit in President Donald Trump’s face.

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This seems reminiscent of how Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) and Mayor Jenny Durkan (D-Seattle) responded to Trump’s demands that they restore order immediately in CHAZ. Inslee and Durkan insisted that it would be “illegal and unconstitutional” to shut down a lawless rebellion. Durkan even insisted CHAZ could be “the summer of love.” In late June, two deadly shootings on two subsequent weekends took the lives of a 19-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy, both of them black.

Trump forced Durkan’s hand. Did he force Wheeler’s, too?

When Seattle police finally cleared out the lawless antifa occupation, it seemed that the shootings had forced Durkan’s hand. Then Trump revealed that he had pressured Seattle to act.

Last week, Sean Hannity asked the president whether “one of the reasons that the Seattle mayor finally acted is that they were given notice that if they didn’t act that you were going to. Is there any truth to that?”

“A hundred percent,” Trump replied. “We were going in, we were going in very soon, we let them know that. And they, all of a sudden, they didn’t want that. So they went in before we got there.”

“But we were going in very shortly, very soon, and we would have taken the CHOP, they call it, CHOP. We would have taken it back very easily,” the president added. “But they went in and, frankly, the people just gave up, they were tired, they had it for a very long period of time.”

It seems that the DHS and Chad Wolf pressured Wheeler to act in the same fashion. Despite the mayor’s loud protestations, federal troops were coming to Portland. The 47 days of violence had to come to an end. Perhaps Wheeler thought that he would be in a better political position if he cleared out the CLAT himself. It would have been extremely embarrassing if DHS had to clear it out for him.

Antifa rioters are not giving up on Portland. They have already attempted to swarm the park to resurrect the CLAT, but the police aren’t having it. There will be no autonomous zones while Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf is in town.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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