‘It Stings’: Portland Mayor Denounces Use of Tear Gas by Federal Agents

PORTLAND, Ore. — Another night of unrest on the streets of Portland turned tense after federal officers fired tear gas early Thursday morning near the city’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, who had joined demonstrators outside the city’s federal courthouse.

Mr. Wheeler, who coughed and scrambled to put on goggles while denouncing what he called the urban warfare tactic of the federal agents, said he was outraged by the use of tear gas and had seen nothing that justified such a response.

Credit…Caitlin Ochs/Reuters

“I’m not going to lie — it stings; it’s hard to breathe,” Mr. Wheeler said. “And I can tell you with 100 percent honesty, I saw nothing which provoked this response.”

He called it an “egregious overreaction” on the part of the federal officers, and not a de-escalation strategy. “It’s got to stop now,” he declared.

The mayor has called for federal agents to leave the city after they arrived to subdue the long-running unrest, dressed in camouflage and tactical gear and unleashing tear gas, clashing violently with protesters and pulling some people into unmarked vans in what Gov. Kate Brown called “a blatant abuse of power.”

But the Democratic mayor, 57, has also long been the target of Portland protesters infuriated by the city’s own use of tear gas last month. As he went through the crowds on Wednesday, some threw objects in his direction, and others called for his resignation, chanting, “Tear Gas Teddy.”

The demonstrations, fueled by a wide array of grievances, including against police brutality, have rocked Portland for 55 consecutive nights, persisting even as other protests have waned in other parts of the country since the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in police custody in Minneapolis.

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