Mayor Ted Wheeler Calls on Federal Officers to Leave Portland: “We Do Not Need or Want Their Help”

Wheeler does not have the authority to oust federal officers, but he can ask them to leave.

A federal officer in Portland on July 11. (Kody Whiteaker)

In a series of tweets published Tuesday afternoon, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said he gave acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf an ultimatum: Either keep federal agents inside of the buildings they claim to protect, or make them leave Portland altogether.

"I told the acting secretary that my biggest immediate concern is the violence federal officers brought to our streets in recent days, and the life-threatening tactics his agents use," Wheeler said. "We do not need or want their help."

Officers from the Department of Homeland Security arrived in Portland earlier this month following President Donald Trump's June 26 executive order to protect monuments.

For nearly two weeks, federal officers from four agencies have actively patrolled Portland protests. They've arrested at least 19 protesters and charged 13, according to Kevin Sonoff, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Oregon.

Tensions over their presence reached a boiling point last weekend, when a federal officer shot a protester named Donavan LaBella at close range with a projectile. LaBella underwent facial reconstructive surgery as a result.

"The best thing they can do is stay inside their building, or leave Portland altogether," Wheeler wrote Tuesday. "And in the meantime, I asked [Wolf] to clean up the graffiti on local federal facilities."

Wheeler said during a press conference Monday that he can ask the feds to leave, but that he does not have the authority to oust them, because they have jurisdiction over their properties, like the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse in downtown Portland.

Trump appears pleased with the results of the officers' deployment. He boasted Monday that they had "quelled" civil unrest in Portland after local officials wouldn't.

Since then, Wheeler has engaged more directly with Trump on social media, telling him the feds were making a tense situation more dangerous.

Wheeler said Monday he doesn't take issue with federal agents remaining on federal properties, but that he doesn't think it's acceptable for them to roam the streets during protests.

"I have no problem with the federal government and federal officers inside their facilities protecting their facilities. That's what they do. That's what they always do," Wheeler said July 13. "What I have a problem with is them leaving the facilities and going out onto the streets of this community and then escalating an already tense situation like they did the other night."

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