Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler recently admitted that a “hands-off approach” to the ongoing protests and riots all last summer was not the right strategy. Riots lasted all summer long in the city, even after the rest of the nation started to settle down.
Wheeler announced during a recent Portland City Council meeting that they are still trying to find the “right recipe” for handling riots, adding that they are looking for the sweet middle spot between an overwhelming police presence and restrained law enforcement. They used the hands-off approach when a group of armed protesters clashed the city on Aug. 22, leading Wheeler to backtrack his crime prevention strategies. But it’s pretty simple. Just let the police do their jobs.
“It is clear, based on the public outcry, on the media outcry, on the national front, that that strategy was not the right strategy. I think we can all acknowledge that. I take full responsibility for it,” Wheeler said.
It’s not rocket science to realize that people need to be held accountable for their actions. Now Wheeler is responsible for millions upon millions in property damage and helping flame the political tensions even more. He was so worried about the rioters’ feelings that he didn’t maintain peace in the city. He went on to say that the city has struggled with alt-right groups as they “come into our town because they know they’ll get a response.” Wheeler failed to mention any of the Black Lives Matter riots that occurred all last summer.
Even state lawmakers expressed their frustration over the violence, adding that they were confused on why they could not let the police intervene. Residents reported that they felt “terrorized” and “abandoned” as people flooded the streets in helmets and gas masks. Some were armed with baseball bats, paintball guns, and chemical spray while confronting one another.
Residents were even warned that officers would not intervene with the violent protesters as the officials made the decision to stay away. They cited staff shortages, legal restrictions, and history of officers exasperating tension. Wheeler had even touted the hands-off approach as a success, adding that the community at large was not harmed and that the broader public was protected.
The decision to change strategies also comes after a $50,000 settlement between a protester and law enforcement officer. The lawsuit had been filed by a woman injured by police after they hurled a flash-bang munition into a Patriot Prayer rally. Patriot Prayer is a Vancouver-based right-wing group.
Portland isn’t the only city looking to refund and support the police after last summer. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has expressed a desire for increased police spending, New York City has emerged with candidates like Eric Adams who wants to bring back the police with full force, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti who has returned most of the money they cut last year from the police department’s budget.
Defunding the police and limiting law enforcement resources has never decreased crime. It’s only decreased the accountability for criminals to get caught, therefore resulting in increased crime overall. It’s a never-ending loop for Democrats who don’t want the punishment to fit the crime.