Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said this afternoon that the city's police union president "crossed a line" by accusing him of keeping officers from restraining antifascist demonstrators who assaulted a conservative journalist.
In a press conference today, Wheeler said Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner's Facebook post contributed to a "global frenzy" of right-wing criticism that cascaded on the mayor's office and Portland police officers.
"By his releasing that statement, he contributed to the misinformation and the noise," Wheeler said. "I don't think he did the Police Bureau any favors. I don't think he did the men and women who serve in the Police Bureau any favors, and he certainly didn't do me any favors."
Turner is the president of the Portland Police Association and a regular critic of Wheeler, who he says keeps police from cracking down on antifascists and Proud Boys who brawl in Portland streets. On July 1, Turner revived that criticism, after conservative journalist Andy Ngo was kicked, punched and pelted with vegan milkshakes by masked antifascists.
"It's time for our Mayor to do two things," Turner wrote, "tell both ANTIFA and Proud Boys that our City will not accept violence in our City and remove the handcuffs from our officers and let them stop the violence through strong and swift enforcement action. Enough is enough."
Conservative outlets, including Fox News and Breitbart, reported that Wheeler had prevented police from intervening. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called for a federal investigation of the mayor.
"This became a global phenomenon," Wheeler said today. "They came back to his message as proof that I had, in fact, handcuffed the police during the June 29 demonstration."
Wheeler previously denied Turner's post on Facebook and Twitter, and Police Chief Danielle Outlaw backed him up in a press conference. But today the mayor, who had been traveling overseas, added to those comments with a press conference.
The mayor pledged a more aggressive approach to political street brawls after more than two years of assaults and growing public dismay. He provided few specifics—but reiterated his approach to policing, which is to remain hands-off and let the professionals take the lead:
"The public needs to hear that the Police Bureau law enforcement professionals were in charge, not the mayor," he said.
He also extended an olive branch to Turner.
"Darryl and I have a relationship, we do communicate, we will continue to meet," Wheeler said. "He and my team have a relationship and, as I say, we both want the same things. We're just going to have to find a way to work well together going forward."