Mayor Ted Wheeler Apologizes for Portland Police Bureau’s Excessive Use of Tear Gas

“It should never have happened. I take personal responsibility for it and I’m sorry.”

Protesters flush tear gas from eyes on May 30, 2020. (Wesley Lapointe)

Mayor Ted Wheeler this morning issued an apology for what he acknowledged was excessive use of tear gas by the Portland Police Bureau during the first month of protests following the May 25 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

Speaking to reporters, Wheeler said the Police Bureau, which he oversees, had overstepped its boundaries.

"There were times early on in these demonstrations where I believe I saw the Portland Police Bureau make mistakes when it came to crowd dispersal," Wheeler said. "I saw what appeared to be and what was reported from the streets to be indiscriminate use of crowd control devices."

Wheeler added that for the first time since he became mayor, he got involved in police tactics, ordering that PPB immediately stop using a long-range acoustical device against protesters and only use tear gas if police believed they faced "serious injury or death."

"I apologize to those nonviolent demonstrators who were subjected to the use of CS gas or LRAD," he said. "It should never have happened. I take personal responsibility for it and I'm sorry."

Wheeler drew a distinction between PPB, which he said used tear gas just twice in July, and federal officers, whom he said have used tear gas "broadly, indiscriminately and nightly."

He said the feds' use of tear gas "is escalating the behavior we are seeing on the streets instead of deescalating it, and that's why it must come to an end."

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