Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler on Friday called on Reed College to expel a senior if he’s convicted of smashing downtown windows, including those of the Oregon Historical Society, on April 16.
Theodore Matthee-O’Brien, 22, faces seven felony charges—four for rioting and three for first-degree criminal mischief—stemming from property destruction in downtown Portland last Friday night, as black bloc marchers shattered windows in the wake of Portland police fatally shooting a man.
Yesterday, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office charged Matthee-O’Brien for allegedly smashing windows at Nordstrom and the U.S. Bancorp Tower—aka Big Pink—in addition to previously seeking to indict him for allegedly damaging the front windows of the history museum.
Matthee-O’Brien is a senior and anthropology major at Reed, according to police affidavits and his LinkedIn page. His attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.
In a press conference this afternoon, Wheeler said Reed should expel Matthee-O’Brien, should he be convicted.
“I noted, for example, that one of the individuals arrested is a student at one of the nation’s most expensive, elite, private universities that happens to be located in our community,” Wheeler said. “If that individual is convicted, I hope he’s expelled.
“There are ways that our other community partners and institutions can be helpful in making it crystal clear that the city of Portland will not tolerate criminal destruction or violence,” Wheeler continued. “Those who are engaged in it, let’s make it hurt them a little bit.”
Keven Myers, Reed College’s director of communications, says the school can’t comment on the conduct of individual students, but that a disciplinary process could not begin until a student’s court case is resolved.
“While the college is not in the position to comment on this specific case nor any disciplinary actions related to student conduct, we are in the position to comment on the vandalism taking place in Portland,” Myers tells WW. “Reed condemns vandalism in Portland and joins other civic leaders, including members of the Black Lives Matter movement, in speaking up against wanton property destruction.”
The mayor asking Reed to expel a student if convicted was among the more remarkable elements of a press conference where Wheeler and Deputy Police Chief Chris Davis asked Portland residents to help stifle property damage by reporting black bloc activity to police.
Among other suggestions, Wheeler asked citizens to report to 211 when they see people in black bloc garb parking a car in their neighborhood—and to give dispatchers the car’s license plate number.
Wheeler said he is extending a state of emergency through the weekend in response to repeated marches by roughly 100 hardline leftists who smash windows and set fires to demand police abolition. Wheeler called them “self-described anarchists” and said he would use every legal avenue to quash arson and vandalism.
“Our job is to unmask them, arrest them, and prosecute them,” Wheeler said.
The mayor made his remarks at the same hour on Friday as a press conference where the family of Robert Delgado, who was fatally shot by Portland police April 16, called on the governor to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the case.
Wheeler did not mention Delgado’s death during his condemnation of property damage.
A day prior, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt also expressed exhaustion and disgust with the repeated property damage.
“The violence and property destruction we’ve seen in Portland for nearly 11 months now is unacceptable,” Schmidt said in a statement Thursday. “I will always defend a person’s right to free speech, but I will not defend nor support anyone who knowingly, recklessly or intentionally destroys property or engages in violence.”
That’s a far cry from Schmidt’s initial remarks last July that in the course of American history, “sometimes it took some property damage” to spur criminal justice reform.
But his current tone reflects nearly a year of nightly “direct actions” in which small groups of protesters smashed windows and, on occasion, set fires to announce their displeasure with the Portland Police Bureau and City Hall. In the past week, an unusual number of people—including police-abolition activists—have denounced such tactics as counterproductive and harmful.
But another such march is expected tonight, in the Pearl District and Northwest Portland.