Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is a perfect example of what happens when a politician tries to placate the mob instead of ensuring that peace prevails on the streets of their city. Wheeler’s told President Trump repeatedly not to send federal law enforcement to Portland, he said nothing when the local D.A. announced he wouldn’t be prosecuting most of those arrested for taking parts in riots, and even Oregon Public Radio (hardly a hotbed of conservative or right-wing thinking) says the mayor doesn’t have a clear plan to stop the chaos unfolding nightly on city streets.
On Monday night the mob once again came for Mayor Wheeler, this time to “celebrate” the mayor’s birthday by smashing widows and starting fires near the mayor’s downtown apartment.
Hundreds of protesters “celebrated” the mayor’s birthday while wearing party hats, launching fireworks and marching with a large sign that read: “Resign.”
Police said the group broke windows, burglarized a business, and lit a fire in an occupied apartment building.
A garbage can was lit on fire in the middle of the street and then it turned into a party atmosphere as protesters danced to the “Macarena.” Protesters then added other pieces of furniture to the flames and started another fire in the street.
Just peaceful protesters having a dance party, right? I mean, sure, they might have thrown some furniture that didn’t belong to them on to a fire, but that’s what insurance is for, right?
Police said they stayed out of sight and monitored the protest near the mayor’s apartment building in an attempt to deescalate the situation from a distance. However, when the vandalism and burning continued and when police saw burglaries occurring, they declared an unlawful assembly at around 11 p.m.
Soon after, police saw someone throw burning material through a broken window into a ground-level business in a large, occupied apartment building. This caused police to declare a riot.
Officers said protesters threw rocks and paint balloons at them and another dumpster was lit on fire before the protesters were moved out of the area. Police said they used crowd control munitions to move the crowd, but no CS gas.
Guess it wasn’t just a pop-up dance party after all. Who could have guessed that things might turn violent? After all, Portland’s only been experience similar destruction for, oh, the last 93 days or so. Police ended up making 19 arrests on Monday night, the vast majority of them from Portland itself.
This was the arson fire that prompted a riot declaration tonight. It was critical to secure the area to allow firefighters to respond to this dangerous situation. https://t.co/k33vcLD4BY
— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) September 1, 2020
Note the graffiti on the apartment that the agitators tried to set on fire. “This is the language of the unheard,” is a reference to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1967 “The Other America” speech, in which used that phrase to describe riots. It’s become a common refrain on the Left over the past few months, but those citing it in defense of rioting inevitably ignore King’s full quote.
Let me say as I’ve always said, and I will always continue to say, that riots are socially destructive and self-defeating. I’m still convinced that nonviolence is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and justice. I feel that violence will only create more social problems than they will solve. That in a real sense it is impracticable for the Negro to even think of mounting a violent revolution in the United States. So I will continue to condemn riots, and continue to say to my brothers and sisters that this is not the way. And continue to affirm that there is another way.
But at the same time, it is as necessary for me to be as vigorous in condemning the conditions which cause persons to feel that they must engage in riotous activities as it is for me to condemn riots. I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.
Portland has held itself out to be a citadel of social justice and progress for decades now. If an emphasis on those two things are the guarantors of riot prevention, as King said, Portland should be calmest city in the United States. Instead, riots and looting have become an almost indelible part of the fabric of an increasingly uncivil society in the city, because the violent demonstrators taking to the streets every night aren’t interested in justice, equality, or humanity. They’re not striving for progress. They’re hoping to start a revolution, one which will tear down capitalism and all existing institutions in order to build utopia on the ashes of what came before.
In a very real sense, the rioters are being heard, but their message is being rejected. Their numbers aren’t growing. We’re not seeing tens of thousands of people take to every major American city to burn it down. Instead we have millions who are waiting for mayors like Ted Wheeler and governors like Kate Brown to get serious about restoring some semblance of order.
Dr. King believed that the summers of riots are caused by winters of delay, but I believe that riots lead to delay. Riots retard reform. Riots enhance the status quo. Riots don’t cause most Americans to sit up and think “By God, this is who I want to decide what the future looks like.” Instead, they think, “My God, I hope that doesn’t happen here.”
Ted Wheeler got a riot for his birthday, with flames coming from an apartment building instead flickering from the top of a cake. I suppose he should be thankful that the would-be revolutionaries outside his apartment building didn’t get a chance to give him any birthday spankings, but if he doesn’t get control of his city I have a feeling that spanking, or worse, will be delivered to him at some point in Portland’s increasingly dystopian future.