Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler and his challenger, Sarah Iannarone, a self-described Antifa member, addressed the violent riots that have taken place there for more than 120 days in a debate on Thursday.
Wheeler, who has allowed the violence to continue, said he rejects it, while Iannarone said she would be “meeting” and “working with” Black Lives Matter and Antifa if she is elected.
“Nightly violence and criminal destruction will not be condoned,” Wheeler said. “Those engaged in acts of violence, regardless of beliefs, should be held accountable.”
“We’re going to support peaceful demonstrations,” Wheeler said. “That includes working with the district attorney as we have to hold those who are engaged in egregious acts of violence or vandalism accountable.”
“It means we need to encourage the courts to work with us to not put into place restrictions that would impede our ability to hold people accountable,” Wheeler said.
Iannarone said she would handle the rioters by “meeting with them, working with them on these issues and making progress towards real reform.”
“I condemn violence in all forms,” Iannarone said. “I always have. But we must know the answer to protests about police brutality cannot be increased police brutality.”
Iannarone also said during the debate that even though she has no experience in public office, being a “community organizer” who is “embedded in community,” qualifies her to be mayor.
Neither provided specific policies or practices that would be used to stop the ongoing violence.
As Breitbart News has reported prosecutors in Portland, Oregon, have dismissed charges on 90 percent of the protesters arrested during Antifa and anti-police riots in September. One had also been charged with attempted murder, assault, and arson. Of the 213 arrested that month, only 19 cases are pending.
In addition to dropping nine out of every ten cases in September, authorities dismissed more than 70 percent of the almost 1,000 arrests since May, a case tracker kept by the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office revealed. The figure is worsened by reports from The Oregonian that more cases have been dismissed than those shown on the tracker.
Wheeler said he has been criticized for not tackling the homelessness problems in the city and has failed to protect public safety but blamed it on circumstances, not incompetence:
When March rolled around, the city went into a state of pervasive crisis, COVID crisis, resulting economic shutdown, national reckoning on racial justice, people taking to the streets, some people engaging in acts of violence, forest fires on top of that. I don’t mind telling you that distracted me from my ability to campaign. I didn’t campaign.
“There was a lot of real anger, a lot of real frustration, a lot of real anxiety,” Wheeler said. “As the mayor, the buck stops with me.” He went on to say:
But on the other hand, I should have taken the opportunity to campaign, but I chose instead to focus on the crises, and I don’t mind lifting the tent a little bit to say I was dealing with personal crises too. My friend [former commissioner] Nick Fish died, my mom died, I was going through a divorce.
“Anybody who’s gone through those knows that can be taxing, and it also took my eyes off the ball a little bit,” Wheeler said. “I believe in myself and my administration.”
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