The mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, went out to protest and inhaled tear gas sprayed by federal special forces that were sent to the city to pacify the protesters by order of US President Donald Trump. Writes about this The Washington Post.
Wheeler said he decided to join the protesters at the rally to show his solidarity with them and support them in the confrontation with the security forces, whom he called the “occupying forces.” “I am here tonight to stand by your side no matter what. If they use tear gas against you, they will use it against me, ”the mayor said, addressing the audience.
However, most of the protesters were skeptical about the mayor’s words. During his speech, many chanted slogans urging Wheeler to resign. Some also expressed bewilderment that the mayor had waited so long before joining the protests that have been going on in Portland for 50 days. The protesters also accused the mayor of populism, saying that he could have used the local police to protect the townspeople from federal forces, but did not.
As the newspaper notes, the protesters did not express sympathy for the mayor even after he actually fell into a cloud of tear gas sprayed by security forces and began to complain of burning sensations and watery eyes. Instead, protesters began to ask him what tear gas tasted like and how he could allow residents of the city he led to be regularly poisoned. Nevertheless, Wheeler himself said after that that the experience made him rethink his attitude to the use of such means by the police in suppressing riots. “I don’t think we should use these tools at all,” he stressed.
At the same time, writes The Washington Post, Wheeler’s appearance at the rally is most likely due to his desire to win additional support from voters before the upcoming elections, which will be held in November 2020. According to the newspaper, his main rival for the post of mayor of Portland, where no mayor has been held for two terms since 2005, will be Sara Iannarone. One of her main campaign promises was strengthening police accountability and banning the use of tear gas at rallies.