Mayor Ted Wheeler Reacts to Saturday’s Violent Protests: White Nationalists Not Welcome

Wheeler, who oversees the Portland Police Bureau, acknowledges criticism of PPB's inaction Saturday and pledges more information.

A volunteer medic van arrives at the protest on July 25. (Alex Wittwer)

Mayor Ted Wheeler this afternoon issued a statement on a rally Saturday that led to a melee between the Proud Boys and their supporters and left-wing protesters who showed up to oppose them.

"I vehemently oppose what the Proud Boys and those associated with them stand for, and I will not tolerate hate speech and the damage it does in our city. White nationalists, particularly those coming to our city armed, threaten the safety of Portlanders and are not welcome here," Wheeler said in a statement.

Portland police made no attempt to intervene in the violent clashes, later explaining the bureau was shorthanded from protest activity the night before and disinclined to intervene in skirmishes between willing combatants—even when right-wingers pulled guns on their opponents.

The Portland Police Bureau's explanation angered some Portlanders, including mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone, who tied the bureau's inaction to Wheeler, who oversees it.

"When the law does not apply equally to everyone, it is not a law, but a privilege for those who don't face enforcement," Iannarone said in a statement. "Our current mayor's disregard for the law trickles down into the police he oversees."

Wheeler alluded to PPB's tactics, which have included aggressive, regular arrests at the nightly protests but seemed unusually passive in the face of violence on Saturday.

"Regarding Saturday afternoon's protest, I am closely reviewing and discussing with Chief Lovell Portland Police Bureau's strategy to limit their intervention in the right-wing protests and counterdemonstrations," Wheeler added.

"We will share more information with the public. We are at a critical place where police officers are needed to intervene in protests where police officers themselves are the flashpoint."

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