Homeland Security Department’s Acting Secretary, Chad Wolf delivered a serious warning to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler in a letter Monday (pdf), writing that the federal government “will have no choice but to protect our American citizens” if rioting and destruction continue.
“Due to a lack of action throughout the summer, Portland and its law-abiding residents continue to suffer from large-scale looting, arson, and vandalism—even killing. Businesses remain shuttered and Portlanders are held hostage by the daily violence that has gripped the city with no end in sight,” Wolf wrote to Wheeler.
Wolf’s letter, comes after Wheeler sent an open letter to President Donald Trump on Aug. 28, declining federal assistance to the city and blaming Trump for making things worse by sending federal law enforcement the first time.
“When you sent the Feds to Portland last month, you made the situation far worse. Your offer to repeat that disaster is a cynical attempt to stoke fear and distract us from the real work of our city,” Wheeler wrote.
Wheeler added, “There is no place for looting, arson, or vandalism in our city.”
In response to Wheeler’s statement, Wolf replied, “Unfortunately, you have failed to back up that sentiment with any action. In fact, your inaction has fostered an environment that has fueled senseless violence and destruction night after night.”
Wolf criticized Wheeler for allowing the violence to continue for over 3 months.
In his letter to Trump, Wheeler praised the protests as being mostly peaceful and standing up for the noble cause of racial justice.
At a press briefing on July 17, Wheeler revealed his plan to end the rioting, which included appeasing protestors and de-escalation, or having officers not engage with demonstrators.
“We get rid of the feds. Number two, we contain and deescalate the situation. Number three, we clean up downtown. Number four, we open up for business. That’s the plan,” he told reporters.
Wheeler said his plan was working until federal officers surged to the city last month to protect a U.S. courthouse that Trump administration officials said was nearly overwhelmed.
Mayor Wheeler’s office wrote in an emailed statement to The Epoch Times, “Mr. Wolf’s letter is grandstanding. Yet again, the President and his appointees refuse to take accountability for their role in the divisiveness and violence occurring around our country. On Sunday, I asked the president to either stand with us against violence and for progress or to stay out of the way.”
Also in his letter, Wheeler assured the President that, “Those who commit criminal acts will be apprehended and prosecuted under the law.”
Wolf urged Wheeler to “honor” that statement and added, “To that end, I encourage you to work with and disabuse the District Attorney of Multnomah County of his refusal to prosecute individuals who have committed such crimes as interference with a law enforcement officer, rioting, criminal trespass, second-degree disorderly conduct, escape, or a city ordinance violation.”
At an Aug. 6 Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ hearing on Oversight of DHS Personnel Deployments to Recent Protest, Wolf gave testimony (pdf) about the violence directed at law enforcement officers who have been deployed to handle the rioting and vandalism of federal property in Portland.
“Instead, our law enforcement officers were assaulted with, among other weapons, mortar-style commercial-grade fireworks, accelerants, IEDs, sledgehammers, concrete, and slingshots. Officers have suffered chemical burns, bloody wounds, and attacks with blinding lasers, leaving some of our colleagues with eye injuries,” Wolf said.
The Portland mayor has come under increasing pressure to bring in federal resources after more than 90 straight nights of demonstrations, arson incidents, looting, and unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis and is even facing calls to resign.