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Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler on Wednesday was booed, heckled and called a “fascist” by rioters in the city as he tried to attend a “listening session” about ongoing unrest — becoming the latest liberal mayor to be shunned by protesters with whom they had sought to show solidarity.
Wheeler, who for weeks has been backing the protests against efforts by federal law enforcement to stop rioting near federal property, joined protesters at fencing near the Hatfield Courthouse and tried to conduct a “listening session” — and was even hit by tear gas deployed by federal agents.
However, while some protesters were receptive to his presence, many others heckled and booed him, objecting to his refusal to back some of their demands such as abolishing the police, and for the Portland Police’s (for which he is a commissioner) use of tear gas and other methods to shut down riots.
“F— Ted Wheeler,” one protester shouted, according to video posted by a reporter. “He doesn’t get to speak, he’s a f—ing fascist. F— Ted Wheeler.”
At another point, a restless crowd included a protester calling him a “f—ing a–hole” while others chanted “Tear gas Ted has got to go.”
Later, when he said he would not commit to abolishing the Portland police, the crowd booed, yelled “f— you” and told him to “get the f— out” and warned ominously: “Your house next.”
New York Times correspondent Mike Baker, who recorded many of the scenes on camera, reported that as Wheeler suffered the effects of tear gas, one protester asked “How does it feel, Teddy?” Baker reported that others threw bottles and other objects at Wheeler.
Demonstrators protest in downtown Portland, Ore., Wednesday, July 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)
Scenes devolved and Wheeler was later shuttled to a building by his security team, who had to scuffle with protesters who got in Wheeler’s face, yelled expletives and kicked at the door, which his security team could be seen on video struggling to close.
“F— you. F—ing p—ies,” members of the crowd yelled, in video posted by Baker, after another member yelled, “See you tomorrow night, huh?”
But Wheeler isn’t the only mayor to have faced a backlash from protesters, despite their sympathies toward them.
Frey joined those demonstrating in the wake of the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody, and ended up challenged by protest leaders about whether he would support abolishing or defunding the police.
He told them he has “been coming to grips with my own brokenness in this situation” and promised to revamp “a systemic racist system.” He said the “police union needs to be put in its place” with police practices reworked.
But as protesters grew agitated at his answer, the unidentified leader demanded a “yes or no” answer, saying: “We don’t want no more police.”
“I do not support the full abolition of the Minneapolis Police Department,” Frey said, in video posted online from the scene.
“Alright, then get the f— out of here,” the leader yelled at him. “Go.”
“Go home Jacob, go home,” the demonstrators yelled at the mayor, as others booed and chanted “Shame, shame, shame.”
Bill de Blasio
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is known for his left-wing leanings, and has backed and acted on calls to partially defund and drastically reform the police.
But at a George Floyd rally in June, he was booed off stage and had protesters turn their backs on him as he tried to speak.
“F— the mayor’s curfew!” some shouted, according to The New York Post.
The heckling was so intense, the Post reported, the mayor kept his appearance short and then was no longer seen on the stage.
“Black lives matter in New York,” the mayor said at one point.
“Not to you!” one heckler responded.