In a press conference on New Year's Day, Mayor Ted Wheeler pledged a zero-tolerance policy toward property damage by anarchist and anti-fascist demonstrators. The speech followed another night of vandalism downtown, with protesters aiming fireworks at the Multnomah County Justice Center. Wheeler announced he's asked the Oregon Legislature to increase criminal penalties for repeated property damage offenders, and said he would convene federal, state and local law enforcement to discuss a new approach. "There are some people who just want to watch the world burn," he said, quoting Batman movie The Dark Knight. Here's what our readers had to say:
Blind Ivan via wweek.com: "On one hand, I want to give Ted a pass as Portlanders were too easily buying into the destructive behavior during the summer. But leaders have the vision and strength to take difficult positions when it counts. Ted was weak when the most destructive voices were loudest and strongest. A day late and many millions of dollars short, mayor."
BuckmanRes via wweek.com: "You're about eight months too late, Ted. You spent last year coddling the rioters, tiptoeing around the protesters who ran interference for them, and doing nothing to support the police or push back against the hysterical demands to 'defund the police.' Now you've got a boarded-up downtown, a no man's land that people avoid for fear of their own safety, and who knows how many businesses that will never reopen. Keep up the good work, Ted."
Harley Leiber via wweek.com: "Yeah. It's time to tighten the tourniquet, ratchet up the enforcement, and lay off downtown. I'm all for protesting, civil liberties, free speech, and the right to peacefully assemble, but these intermittent nightly acts of property destruction are damaging the quality of life for the rest of us. The rest of us have a say. Protest some other way."
Mark Cooper via Facebook: "So [Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt] made the decision not to prosecute property crimes, and the solution to that is to stiffen penalties? What sort of alternative universe are we living in?"
James Ta-Dao via Facebook: "There are just some people on this planet who are too thickheaded and bigoted to see that they are the cause of their own obstacles. There are some mayors who want to watch innocent people get tear gassed instead of making actual changes to their corrupt, racist police force."
Andrew Neal via Facebook: "'Should I have actually reformed a murderous police department and addressed racial injustice in the city? No, it's the kids who are wrong…'"
Alexis Gorman via Facebook: "How about we start with real criminal punishments for police brutality?"
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