On Thursday, after the 68th consecutive night of violent riots in Portland, Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) finally urged activists who seriously desire police reform not to join the murderous and destructive antifa mob wreaking havoc in his city. Better late than never? While Wheeler finally issued a full-throated condemnation of the violence, he also warned rioters that they are “creating the B-roll film” for the campaign to reelect President Donald Trump.
Wheeler’s remarks on Thursday marked a clear departure from his previous tactic of blaming all the violence on the president. After Gov. Kate Brown (D) agreed to dispatch state police to aid in the defense of the federal courthouse, the surplus federal law enforcement officers Wheeler and other Democrats had demonized left the area, leaving Wheeler no scapegoat to blame for the violence.
“Last night, 200 to 300 people went to East Precinct intent on violence. The purpose was to attack the East Precinct facility and the people therein,” the mayor said. He noted that “exits were blocked, they were barricaded shut,” and ” accelerants were set and used to grow fires.”
“The attack was immediate, it was intentional, and it was planned. It was intended to cause serious injury or death, and it very well could have,” Wheeler added. He noted that the police used tear gas, which “was authorized by every agency involved.”
#Antifa have started a fire on the front door of the Portland Police east precinct. They tore off the barricade and placed tinder around the fire. They’re trying to burn down the building. #PortlandRiots pic.twitter.com/2UN7o21dZy
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) August 6, 2020
“When you commit arson with an accelerant, in an attempt to burn down a building that is occupied by people that you have intentionally trapped inside, you are not demonstrating. You are attempting to commit murder,” the mayor insisted. “And by the way, this building is in a residential neighborhood.”
Antifa is now attacking residential neighborhoods. This is Portland. pic.twitter.com/v6Wh2qsp38
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) August 6, 2020
“I believe that city staff could have died last night,” Wheeler added. “This is not peaceful protest. This is not advocacy to advance reforms or transform any system.”
Yes, this is exactly the message that conservative journalists have been repeating until we are blue in the face. When lawless antifa rioters throw Molotov cocktails, set fires with accelerants, throw commercial-grade fireworks, and use commercial-grade lasers to blind federal officers for days, they are not engaging in peaceful protest.
Yet for nearly 70 days, left-leaning journalists and Democratic politicians have excused this violence as if it were a “myth,” even when outlets like The Post Millennial and PJ Media have repeatedly shared real footage from the riots. Perhaps Mayor Wheeler has finally given them permission to acknowledge that these “peaceful protests” have devolved into violent riots.
Not everyone seems to have gotten the memo. When the Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front announced another round of riots on Thursday and when Portland Police answered that this call for violence “will not go unanswered,” Portland Mercury editor Alex Zielinski tweeted, “If anyone is inciting violence tonight, it’s PPB.”
If anyone is inciting violence tonight, it’s PPB. pic.twitter.com/hCDZ9rIFSp
— Alex Zielinski (@alex_zee) August 7, 2020
If you’re a peaceful protester, don’t go to the riots!
Whether or not Wheeler’s newfound acknowledgment of the reality of violence helps, he did make a valiant attempt to convince Portlanders not to join the violent riots.
“If you are a non-violent demonstrator, and you don’t want to be part of intentional violence, please stay away from these areas. Our community must say that this violence is not Portland, that these actions do not reflect our values, and these crimes are distracting from reform, not advancing it,” he said. “And they’re keeping our police officers from responding to historic levels of violence in our community.”
NOW he tells them! If only Portlanders had known the “peaceful protests” would devolve into violent riots every night after 11 p.m. or midnight. Maybe they wouldn’t have gone…
Just how naive does Ted Wheeler think his audience is?
He repeated this advice later on in the press conference.
“If you do not view yourself as wanting to be associated with or be part of the criminal activity that we saw last night, I would ask you not to show up. And if you do show up, say something,” the mayor urged Portlanders. “To my eye, it looked like there were a couple of hundred people just standing around, saying nothing, not intervening, and in some cases even cheering those activities on.”
“If you are a non-violent demonstrator and you are demonstrating for racial justice and equity in police reform, you don’t want to be part of this. You don’t want to show up,” Wheeler advised.
Wheeler gets his jab in at Trump
Then the mayor had to get in his jab at President Trump. As a final thought, he said, “Don’t think for a moment, if you are participating in this activity, that you are not being a prop for the reelection campaign of Donald Trump, because you absolutely are.”
“You are creating the B-roll film that will be used nationally to help Donald Trump in this campaign. You don’t want to be part of that, then don’t show up,” Wheeler urged.
He did not explain why, exactly, footage of the riots would help President Trump’s reelection campaign. Americans do not like to see violent antifa rioters storming a police precinct, attempting to set it on fire. They do not like to see violence on the streets of American cities.
Footage of the riots could only be “B-roll” for the Trump campaign if the party opposing the president had attempted to cover up or ignore 68 nights of violent riots inspired by far-left Marxist propaganda — which is working its way into the Democratic platform. Footage of the riots could only be politically viable if — get this — the president had called for law and order and offered to send extra federal law enforcement to help cities that are overrun with antifa rioters, and the Democratic mayors of those cities had refused him.
Perhaps the footage would be particularly powerful if, in a certain city, rioters had carried out violent attacks for nearly 70 nights while the city’s mayor told police not to engage, demonized the federal law enforcement whose lives the rioters threatened, and actually joined the rioters. Oh, it might also be effective if the mayor in question — not naming any names — had claimed that there was no justification for tear gas even though rioters were setting off explosives right behind him.
Oh, all of that happened? Wait, it happened in Portland? No wonder Ted Wheeler is terrified of footage getting out there.
Here’s the kicker: While all of this was happening, presumptive Democratic nominee Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. attacked Trump, claiming the president was attacking “peaceful protesters.” Yes, that footage does belong in campaign ads. Americans need to know what’s really been going on Portland, and it seems Ted Wheeler is only now realizing just how much trouble he’s in.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.