Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is testing the limits of the First Amendment—because protesters are testing his patience.
Nearly every Wednesday morning for two months, a ragtag band of gadflies has successfully shut down City Council meetings. The enraged shouting began in January, after four homeless people and a stillborn infant were found dead in the streets. The violent arrests of anti-Trump protesters and the police killing of black teenager Quanice Hayes have added fuel to the rage in council chambers.
Last week, Wheeler led the City Council in unanimously passing an ordinance that allows the city to exclude protesters for up to 60 days if they repeatedly disrupt city business.
The public wasn't allowed to testify at the March 15 vote. But the council's loyal enemies had their say anyway.
"We're all about to witness something that goes down. I hope that everybody across the United States and across the world can see what you guys are about to do." —Mimi German, ostensibly during public comment about the city purchasing a new asphalt grinder.
"You guys are some of the worst people I think I've ever sat in front of. Clearly your hands are full with murdered black children and houseless dying on you. How many bodies so far during your term, mayor? You're clearly overwhelmed and unfit to do the job." —Star Stauffer
"This council and the Portland police are a terrorist organization."
"When you are rude to us, we get pissed, and when we get pissed, you don't have a meeting. You are rude, Miss Ratched [pointing to City Commissioner Amanda Fritz]. You are all vulnerable, every one of you. What is the matter with you? Where is your soul? What happened to you? You arrogant son of a bitches." —Joe Walsh
"We told them it was clearly unconstitutional."
—The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, on Twitter