Ted Wheeler Skips Town During Most Troubled Week of His Tenure
As ICE and DHS clamp down on The Resistance, Ted Wheeler is having one hell of a week… on an overseas vacation.
For those in the area, the city of Portland seems to be on fire. Portland was at the epicenter of the response to the zero-tolerance policy instated by President Trump and his longtime white nationalist aid Stephen Miller. As Portland’s #OccupyICEpdx demonstrations halted all activity at the cities ICE facility and inspired protests across the country, the mayor of Portland and other mainstream Democratic politicians seemed to be in full support. It seems that politicians across the county, except for Bernie Sanders, are calling for abolishing ICE. Ted Wheeler has been attempting to build a national profile by resisting Donald Trump’s administration via harsh rhetoric. However, he has done very little to act upon Portland’s sanctuary city designation. Wheeler once again proved his disdain for demonstrators and inclination to violently attack them with his police force today as his officers assisted Donald Trump’s government in violently arresting those who wheeler claimed to support less than a week ago. At that time, he claimed that he did not want to “to be engaged or sucked into a conflict, particularly from a federal agency that I believe is on the wrong track.” It is important to note that unlike in most major cities, the mayor also sits as the police commissioner. As the official occupation statement states, “Portland Police Bureau was involved and complicit, supporting DHS in blocking off roads and diverting traffic that allowed DHS officers to move in on the encampment.”
Even if you don’t care about the occupation and violent response from Ted Wheeler’s repressive police force, he is having an objectively bad week. First, The Oregonian reported that he had lost a censorship lawsuit and that the city would be forced to pay attorney fees. Wheeler has continuously censored public documents and this time, someone fought back. In any ordinary week, this would be a major story. Yet, there is more. Within hours of that reporting, another scathing report came out that over half of the people that Ted Wheeler’s police force arrested last year, were homeless. The mayor’s office has repeatedly scoffed at activists claims that being homeless in Portland was a crime. However, reporting suggests that it is. Ted Wheeler has folded to his campaign donors who wanted him to be more harsh on the homeless and has since doubled his efforts to displace and harass those who are already in a tough situation. This undoubtedly hurts the mayor’s claims that the city needs more police officers. The public is waking up to the fact that police responses are not slow because of a lack of officers but because officers are busy harassing those without homes.
But wait, there is more. Reporting from the Willamette Week found that Portland Police saw violent right-wing racists as “much more mainstream” than leftist ones. Again proving activists right in their longtime claims that Portland Police not only share an ideology and sympathize with white nationalist activists but also that they act upon those beliefs.
With all of this going on, it only fits within Portland tradition to have activists swarm a Portland City Council meeting. Organizers and supporters of Portland’s DSA branch along with supporters of the ICE occupation descended upon the chambers to demand that the city cancel the lease with the ICE facility and withdraw from the JTTF. However, there was a notable absence at the meeting. That’s right, during the mayor’s most tumultuous week he decided to skip town. Instead of standing with his city to face down against Donald Trump, he is somewhere sipping Pina Coladas in true millionaire fashion. Now thats what I call sanctuary! While it is unclear how long this vacation has been planned for, it is clear that the city needed it’s mayor this week and it needed an exceptional one. Instead, it’s mediocre mayor is nowhere to be found, just an empty seat as his colleagues sympathize with the protesters that their leader would soon violently attack.
In a city that the rest of the nation views as a progressive enclave, it is odd to see that the mayor is in opposition to progressive policies across the board. His tenure has been marked by increased oppression of the cities houseless population, police shootings, repression of leftist protesters, broken windows policing, a housing crisis and a few mean tweets to “realDonaldTrump”. As someone who ran on police accountability, he has failed beyond measure to deliver upon his promises. As challengers for his 2020 bid begin to line up, including those with a proven track record of standing on the right side of history, it might be time for Mayor Wheeler to step aside and allow a city that elected him before Donald Trump was seen as a serious contender to elect a mayor who can stand toe to toe with the federal administration and resist in more than just soundbites.