Oregon Governor and Senators Condemn Trump’s Use of “Occupying Army” on Portland Protesters

Most of Portland City Council has not responded to the president.

July 4, 2020. (Nathan Howard)

Oregon's governor and two U.S. senators today decried President Donald Trump's use of federal officers to counter demonstrators in Portland, but Mayor Ted Wheeler and most members of the Portland City Council remained silent.

U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) both issued statements following Trump's July 10 boast that Homeland Security officers deployed to Portland were "handling it very nicely."

On July 11, Merkley said he was troubled by the deployment of officers who typically guard the nation's borders. "We demand respect for Americans who have taken to the streets to raise their voices in peaceful support of the Black Lives Matters movement," he told WW. "No one should be intimidated or assaulted when they peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights."

Later on July 11, a federal officer shot a protester in the head with a projectile, reportedly sending that person to the hospital for facial reconstructive surgery.

In the wake of that shooting, Wyden strengthened his condemnation. "The consequences of Donald Trump unilaterally dispatching federal law enforcement into U.S. cities played out in Portland with a peaceful protester shot in the head," Wyden wrote. "Trump and Homeland Security must now answer why federal officers are acting like an occupying army."

Gov. Kate Brown also lamented violence committed by Homeland Security officers.

"The events of last night at the federal courthouse were the tragic and avoidable result of President Donald Trump, for weeks, continuing to push for force and violence in response to protests," she said in a statement. "The cycle of violence must end. President Trump deploying armed federal officers to Portland only serves to escalate tensions and, as we saw yesterday, will inevitably lead to unnecessary violence and confrontation."

Meanwhile, Mayor Ted Wheeler and his three colleagues on the Portland City Council—Commissioners Chloe Eudaly, Amanda Fritz and Jo Ann Hardesty—have remained silent since the Associated Press reported July 9 that Trump had deployed federal officers to Portland.

WW sought comment from all four offices July 10. The three commissioners did not respond. Wheeler's spokesman said the mayor declined to comment.

On July 12, Commissioner Eudaly released a statement.

"It's unfortunate that Trump cares more about protecting monuments and buildings than he does people's lives and constitutional rights," Eudaly said. "We didn't invite or ask for this overblown intervention by the federal government. The young man who was shot in the head by a federal officer last night posed no threat to anyone's safety. This is reckless and inexcusable behavior."

The quiet from the City Council is remarkable, given how much political energy Wheeler and his colleagues have spent since 2017 opposing the Trump administration and pledging Portland would resist the White House's policies.

But the mayor in particular is in a difficult position: For the past two weeks, he and the Police Bureau he oversees have warned that protesters bent on property damage are a threat to civic peace and officers' safety. The president sending in federal agents to deal with those troublemakers more harshly leaves Wheeler with little room to complain.

The Portland Police Bureau also declined comment.

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