PORTLAND, Ore. — The mayor of Portland on Thursday police in Oregon’s largest city to stop using tear gas for crowd control during the frequently violent protests that have racked the city for more than three months since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, was tear gassed when he went to a demonstration against the presence of federal authorities dispatched to the city to protect federal property.
He said he still wants police to respond aggressively to prevent violence and vandalism. Hundreds of people have been arrested since the protests started in May.
“I expect the police to arrest people who engage in criminal acts. I expect the District Attorney to prosecute those who commit criminal acts. And I expect the rest of the criminal justice system to hold those individuals accountable,” the mayor said.
The protesters want city officials to slash the police budget and reallocate that money to Black residents and businesses. Some demonstrators are also demanding the resignation of Wheeler, a white man and the scion of a timber company fortune.
In clashes with police, some protesters have broken windows, set small fires, punctured police car tires, shined lasers in officers’ eyes and pelted them with rocks and frozen water bottles.
Wheeler recently moved out of his high-rise apartment after protesters targeted the building, setting a fire in a business on the ground floor.