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“This Is Abhorrent”: Portland Mayor Tear Gassed by Federal Officers

The mayor described the federal agents’ actions toward demonstrators as an “egregious overreaction.”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler reacts after being exposed to tear gas fired by federal officers while attending a protest against police brutality and racial injustice in front of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on July 22, 2020, in Portland, Oregon.

Federal agents sent by President Donald Trump to Portland, Oregon, tear gassed Mayor Ted Wheeler after he joined protesters on Wednesday evening, hoping to de-escalate tensions and address the crowd’s demands for police reform.

But while Wheeler was addressing a group of protesters who were critical of the pace with which he was attempting to implement reforms, federal agents fired tear gas toward him and the demonstrators.

While Wheeler has promised to cut funding for the police force and implement other reforms, demonstrators have criticized the Portland mayor for moving at too slow of a pace to end practices such as qualified immunity.

While Wheeler was speaking in front of the barricaded Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse, where federal agents have stationed themselves, the crowd booed many of his statements, demanding the mayor do more to address police reforms in the city.

After someone threw an item over a fence near the courthouse, however, federal officers responded by firing tear gas toward the protesters and Wheeler, an action that the mayor said was not warranted.

“I’m not afraid, but I am pissed off. This is an egregious overreaction on the part of the federal officers,” the Portland mayor said.

Wheeler described the experience of being tear gassed.

“It’s hard to breathe, it’s a lot harder to breathe than I thought. This is abhorrent. This is beneath us,” he said.

Protests against police violence and racism have occurred nightly in Portland since the end of May following the killing of a number of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement.

Federal officers sent by Trump to Portland have picked up protesters in unmarked cars and detained them without explanation, much to the alarm of civil rights advocates.

Trump has warned that other cities across the country that have had many days of uprisings could soon see a similar presence of federal agents in their city, like what is currently happening in Portland.

“I’m going to do something, that I can tell you,” Trump said when asked about the matter during an interview on Sunday. “Because we’re not going to let New York and Chicago and Philadelphia and Detroit and Baltimore and all of these — Oakland is a mess.”

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner warned that, if those same officers came to that city and acted in an illegal way, he’d take action against them.

“Anyone, including federal law enforcement, who unlawfully assaults and kidnaps people will face criminal charges from my office,” Krasner said.

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