Is it time for Mayor Ted Wheeler to resign? That is the question that is impossible to avoid after months of protests that have exposed the failure of leadership at the heart of the City Council.
This weekend our city’s slide into violence reached a horrific new low as Aaron J. Danielson, 39, from Portland, was shot and killed amid the chaos in downtown Portland. It does not matter which side the dead man belonged to. What matters is that this should never have been allowed to happen at all.
Why was a far-right militia in 600 vehicles allowed to converge on the city in the first place? From the outset this group made no secret of its intention to provoke violence. One video shows a truck running through a red light while its occupants sprayed mace and paintballs at people in the streets. Other videos show fights, beatings and finally gunfire and a death.
All of this was completely predictable and it should have been prevented. Where was the leadership?
The reason we are in this trouble today is because for decades Portland’s police officers have been enabled to operate with impunity. We’ve seen police marching in t-shirts that threatened, “If you can’t smoke ‘em choke ‘em”. We’ve seen Nazi sympathizers and open racists infiltrate the bureau. We’ve seen police keep their jobs after brutalizing and killing innocent people.
Time and time again our city leaders have promised us change. But those promises have been broken. Even the civil rights lawsuit brought against the city did not give us justice.
The police union has been allowed to become more powerful than our elected officials.
Now this generation of Black Lives Matter protesters has come forward to say enough is enough. Nothing else has worked. We applaud their determination to carry on until they see a real and lasting change.
That cannot happen without leadership from our city council. They must help restore our confidence in a truly reformed police bureau that will protect and serve without fear or favor.
Is Ted Wheeler the one for the job? Or should he stand down now and make way for someone else who has what it takes to reverse this tragic spiral into violence and destruction?
Over the last months peaceful Black lives matter protests have been met with teargas, missiles and unnecessary force.
Yet the small group of violent arsonists — who do not care about Black lives but only want to tear our city down. And the far-right who make no secret of their violent intentions are given a pass.
Is this a deliberate tactic to undermine the protests altogether? Can the police bureau tell the difference between peaceful protesters and threatening white supremacists? Can they tell the difference between peaceful protesters and destructive extremists? Or have they— and our mayor— given up entirely?
Who can help us out of this mess? Ted Wheeler?
Hard decisions need to be made. We are asking our readers: Should Ted Wheeler resign? Should he arrest the agitators? Should he reinstate a curfew, thereby disallowing demonstrations after 10 p.m.?
Share your answers in this quick 2-minute survey: