In a series of statements and Twitter messages, City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty accused the Portland Police Bureau – which Wheeler oversees -- of collaborating with the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in what she described as an “aggressive clampdown of peaceful protest.”
In one post, Hardesty refers to federal officers as “45’s goon squad” – an apparent reference to President Trump, the nation’s 45th president.
Hardesty’s remarks came Friday and Saturday, as Oregon’s largest city was in its second month of nightly unrest since the May 25 death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.
In that time, Portland has seen destruction that officials estimated earlier this month has cost local businesses more than $23 million.
The violence in the city has included a hammer attack against a federal officer.
In addition, acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf tweeted Friday, federal officers in Portland have been “assaulted with lasers and frozen water bottles” by suspects attempting to damage federal property.
The lawlessness in Portland in recent weeks drew criticism Saturday from U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who accused Democrats of “facilitating and cheering” the violence there, likening it to that seen in war zones in the Middle East.
Cruz’s comments came one day after the U.S. attorney for Oregon called for an investigation into the roles that DHS personnel have allegedly played in Portland.
Attorney Billy Williams and others expressed concerns after videos on social media appeared to show unlabeled officers in unmarked vehicles suddenly grab rioters off the streets, without appearing to identify themselves or read suspects their Miranda rights.
On Friday, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum sued DHS and the U.S. Marshals Service over the conduct of federal officers in the city.
Looking the other way?
In her comments, Hardesty accused Wheeler of looking the other way as local police work in tandem with federal authorities to crack down on protesters.
“We know that Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner met with [acting] DHS Secretary Chad Wolf,” Hardesty writes in one post. “We know Portland Police are collaborating with this federal occupying force.”
She later tells Wheeler, “We need you to stop denying the violence being perpetrated by our own police force and make it clear and unambiguous: Portland police are directed from the top to never collaborate with 45’s goon squad, to take off their riot gear, and to stop contributing to the violence that was occurring before the feds arrived and still continues night after night.”
“I demand action right now,” Hardesty ends her post. “Mayor Wheeler, if you can’t control the police, give me the Portland Police Bureau.”
Hardesty currently oversees Portland’s Fire & Rescue department, Bureau of Emergency Management and Bureau of Emergency Communications, FOX 12 of Oregon reported.
Hardesty’s accusations against Wheeler came despite his claim, in a Twitter message Tuesday, that he wanted federal authorities to leave the city.
“I told the Acting Secretary [Wolf] that my biggest immediate concern is the violence federal officers brought to our streets in recent days, and the life-threatening tactics his agents use,” Wheeler wrote. “We do not need or want their help.
“The best thing they can do is stay inside their building, or leave Portland altogether,” he continued. ”Our goal is to end these violent demonstrations quickly and safely. And in the meantime, I asked him to clean up the graffiti n local federal facilities.”