Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty on Monday announced that they wish to meet with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Chad Wolf to discuss a “cease-fire” and the removal of federal law enforcement officers from Oregon’s largest city.
It marks a reversal from earlier this month, when Wheeler said he would decline a meeting with Wolf even if he was invited. He said in a statement on July 16 that he knew Wolf and other DHS officials had arrived in Portland, and wished “they weren’t.”
Commissioner @JoAnnPDX and I are calling for an immediate meeting with Department of Homeland Security leadership on the ground in Portland and with Acting Secretary @DHS_Wolf to discuss a cease-fire and the removal of heightened federal forces from Portland.
— Mayor Ted Wheeler (@tedwheeler) July 28, 2020
”Commissioner @JoAnnPDX and I are calling for an immediate meeting with Department of Homeland Security leadership on the ground in Portland and with Acting Secretary @DHS_Wolf to discuss a ceasefire and the removal of heightened federal forces from Portland,” Wheeler tweeted Monday.
The Epoch Times contacted the Department of Homeland Security for comment, but did not immediately hear back.
A spokesperson for Wheeler’s office told Oregon Live that Wheeler changed his stance over meeting Wolf because he “wants to put an end to the violence and destruction.”
A number of people have asked if I know DHS leadership is in town, and if I’m going to meet with them. We’re aware that they’re here. We wish they weren’t. We haven’t been invited to meet with them, and if we were , we would decline.
— Mayor Ted Wheeler (@tedwheeler) July 16, 2020
The Democratic mayor has repeatedly called on the Trump administration to remove federal officers from the city. Wolf has defended the deployment of federal law enforcement agents as part of measures to protect federal buildings, including the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse, which has been targeted by rioters in recent weeks.
Over the weekend, the riots in Portland entered their second month, marked with nightly vandalism, looting, violence, and arson, with clashes between rioters and federal officers tasked with protecting the property.
Federal agents erected a fence to deescalate the confrontations with the rioters, only to see the agitators return with power tools to cut down the barricade. The Department of Justice said Monday that 22 people are facing federal charges after the weekend of violent riots.
On a daily basis in Portland, peaceful protests begin during daytime and dissipate, only to be replaced with violent agitators. The two distinct events continue to generate controversy with media outlets conflating federal response to the violent rioters as having targeted peaceful protesters.
Wolf on Sunday criticized Portland leaders for claiming that the city’s demonstrations are peaceful, as he said the unrest is different from “normal criminal activity.”
“They’re coming armed with rocks, bottles, baseball bats, power tools, commercial grade fireworks, eliciting that violence and targeting their violence on federal courthouses and federal law enforcement officers,” Wolf said during an appearance Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”
“That’s very different than what’s going on in Chicago, places like Chicago, Albuquerque, Kansas City,” he added. “That is where you see normal criminal activity, street crime, what we say regarding gangs and drug dealers.”
Portland “criminals” have been able to continue sparking unrest “untouched” under current city leadership, he added.
“It’s time for Portland to join other responsible cities around this country working with federal law enforcement to address this violence,” he said. “We need Portland to step up to the plate, do their responsibility and work with us to address violent criminal activity occurring every night.”
Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.