Portland mayor Ted Wheeler hit back at President Trump’s assertion that his administration is “trying to help” the city by deploying federal law enforcement officials in light of ongoing protests, during an interview on CNN Sunday morning.
Wheeler’s criticism of the Trump administration comes amid demonstrations in Portland against racial inequality and police brutality. Videos from recent protests show the Department of Homeland Security personnel arresting protesters and placing them in unmarked SUVs. On Friday, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D) and the American Civil Liberties Union sued federal agencies over DHS’ detention of protesters.
On Sunday morning, President Trump — who touted last month that he is the president of “law and order” as he pushed for an aggressive federal response to protests nationwide in the wake of George Floyd’s death — tweeted that his administration is “trying to help Portland, not hurt it.”
We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it. Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators. They are missing in action. We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE. These were not merely protesters, these are the real deal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2020
During an interview on CNN, Wheeler directly responded to Trump’s tweet earlier Sunday by arguing that the President “has a complete misunderstanding of cause and effect.”
“What’s happening here is, we have dozens, if not hundreds of federal troops descending upon our city. And what they’re doing is, they are sharply escalating the situation,” Wheeler said. “Their presence here is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism. And it’s not helping the situation at all. They’re not wanted here. We haven’t asked them here. In fact, we want them to leave.”
Wheeler then characterized the Trump’s administration’s tactics in Portland as “abhorrent.”
“People are being literally scooped off the street into unmarked vans, rental cars, apparently. They are being denied probable cause. And they are denied due process,” Wheeler said. “They don’t even know who’s pulling them into the vans. The people aren’t identifying themselves. And, as far as I can see, this is completely unconstitutional.”
Watch Wheeler’s remarks below:
Portland mayor Ted Wheeler: "The tactics that the Trump administration are using on the streets of Portland are abhorrent." pic.twitter.com/GTClsUXBTi
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) July 19, 2020
Later Sunday, three House committee chairs — Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) — called for an internal investigation of the Trump administration’s security crackdown in Portland in a letter to the inspectors general at the Justice Department and Homeland Security.
"We are increasingly alarmed at the Administration’s use of federal law enforcement to violate the civil rights of our constituents" pic.twitter.com/CCn5bGqlTd
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) July 19, 2020