Commissioner-Elect Mingus Mapps Blisters Portland Protesters, Referring to Some as “the White Mob”

His remarks were significant in part because they signaled a new dynamic in City Hall.

Mingus Mapps. (Mick Hangland-Skill)

In one of his first public appearances since his election to the Portland City Council on Tuesday, Commissioner-elect Mingus Mapps denounced leftist protesters who vandalized the home of Commissioner Dan Ryan on Thursday night in retribution for his vote to preserve the police budget.

"This campaign of intimidation and vandalism against Commissioner Ryan must stop," Mapps said. "Mobs have descended on his house in the middle of the night in order to intimidate him into voting the way they want. It happened again last night: A mob descended on his house, broke windows and sprayed paint on his home."

Mapps was joined on a press call by about a dozen Black community leaders. His remarks were significant in part because they signaled a new dynamic in City Hall: A Black man will be among the most conservative members of the council, and he is wielding the language of civil rights and equity to condemn the excesses of a protest movement that also says it is seeking racial justice.

"On a personal level, I want to say something to Commissioner Ryan: I feel you," Mapps said. "Your story reminds me of my story and it reminds me of the African American story.…I know what it's like to wait up for the white mob to roll up on your house in the middle of the night because you have the audacity to vote or you had the audacity to hope."

On Thursday afternoon, Ryan cast one of three votes against Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty's proposal to cut $18 million from the Portland Police Bureau budget. That night, about 60 protesters gathered at a nearby park and marched to Ryan's North Portland home, police said, where they lit flares, threw a paint-filled balloon, and broke a window, apparently in retribution for his vote.

The vandalism has been widely condemned by Portland elected officials, including Hardesty, who said "lines have been crossed." But the volume and intensity of that condemnation also suggested a growing frustration with a Black Lives Matters protest movement in the city that has at times resorted to property destruction and increasingly intimidated members of the press, even as its numbers have dwindled to a few hundred regulars a night.

Black community leaders have been vocally skeptical of the protests since July, when masked protesters began vandalizing police precincts. And tonight, Mapps' criticism was echoed by that of state Rep. Janelle Bynum (D-Clackamas), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee and is a key member of the Legislature's BIPOC Caucus.

"The power of protest has the ability to shift the very foundation of governance here in Oregon," Bynum said, "but the collateral damage to residents and small businesses is threatening to dismantle the substantial progress that Oregon's BIPOC communities have achieved over the last several months. I am disturbed to see small businesses repeatedly targeted for destruction when many of those same storefronts proudly support the social justice movement."

Bynum continued, saying she supports Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt's efforts to "hold to account people who commit acts of violence, endanger the health of peaceful protesters, and damage the livelihoods of our downtown businesses."

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