Dear Mayor Wheeler
What is wrong with you? Why do I, a voter and taxpayer, even have to ask?
Portlanders of all races and genders have taken to the streets for 88 straight nights to demand police accountability, an end to government-sanctioned brutality against African Americans, and investment in non-violent interventions to address the root causes of social unrest and crime. I’m having a hard time seeing how you would consider those goals objectionable and unleash chemical warfare and paramilitary thugs on the people asking for such changes.
There’s no way you’re clueless about what Portland Police Bureau is doing. I don’t believe you are either that stupid or that incompetent. My opinion of you is falling every day, but I believe you can actually read. I know you have access to social media. So I’m just going to assume — as the actual Police Commissioner and highest elected official in the City — you have Actual Knowledge that PPB is assaulting residents, taking their property, destroying their property, violating the First Amendment rights of journalists and everyone else, and publicly, flagrantly enabling armed terrorists assembling in Portland and threatening Portlanders.
Look, I get it, being an elected is hard. You gotta get your tax base to pony up, you have to keep donors and constituents and stakeholders happy, you have to keep an eye on the optics all the time. You have a complicated job running a major city with everyone second guessing and bitching about your every move. Right now you have to do it all in a pandemic. I don’t envy you the job. And most days I’m willing to cut you some slack. I mean, in this era of unashamed fascism, as long as you aren’t actively trying to destroy reproductive autonomy and throwing babies into prison camps, I’ll hold my nose and try to ignore quite a bit of neoliberal suck-up-to-developers foolishness.
I also know the sausage making of public budgets is grotesque, and I don’t expect miracles. I’m a civil servant myself and I know bitter, if not actually sleazy, compromise is inevitable when it comes to scarce tax dollars. But there’s a difference between failing to make significant policy and institutional changes overnight and deploying battery, intimidation and destruction against your own people. In all honesty I expect you to mouth platitudes and do very little. You seem like that kind of guy to me. Until this summer, though, it wouldn’t have occurred to me that you were a conscious white supremacist and police state fetishist. It just seems like it’s a bad brand identity for a Portland politician, assuming you have some ambitions for staying in the public eye after being Mayor.
There’s no question Portland Police officers, acting as agents of the state, are suppressing constitutionally protected assembly and expression. Any whinging about protecting property or addressing violence is a pretext. Cozying up to the folks brandishing fire arms and limp flailing about the pipe bomb dude makes your actual priorities pretty clear. (Nevermind that anyone with a key board and working eyes can find hundreds of hours of footage of Portland protestors not “rioting”)
There’s a concept where one is presumed to intend the natural and probable consequences of ones actions. Thus you, Edward T. Wheeler, mayor, dad, husband, Oregonian, INTEND for Portland Police to run down and knock over journalists. It’s your hand on the tool slashing the tires of support vehicles. The gassing, the blows to the head, the hard takedowns, it’s all you.
So what are you going to do about it? I’m going to assume you, the Mayor of Portland, can actually effect the actions of Portland’s Police force. And I still expect you to do your job as it’s supposed to be on paper. I’m not expecting Great Things. I’m just asking the city to stop with the affirmative civil rights violations. As a public official, you are charged with the constitutional governance of my city. Can you just stop sucking at it so badly?
I won’t pretend to know the ugly entanglements of City Hall, the PPB, and the cartel of white nationalists tarnishing the reputation of organized labor by claiming to be a police union. But there’s got to be something really Big and Nasty. Like maybe Daryl Turner’s Neo-Nazi confederates have a contract out on you? Or Chuck “Teen Batterer” Lovell has some kompromat. Or maybe someone who’s building all the fancy AirBnB buildings for Chinese and Russian money laundering has some weird thing going that’s too complicated for me to even speculate about.
Whatever is going on, if you can’t stop the violence against your own residents, you’d best fall on your sword publicly and tell everyone you have no control over the PPB — proving it’s a racketeering organization — and Ted Wheeler has no vertebrae. Or nads. Or whatever homophobic, misogynist, ableist characterization of utter uselessness suits your situation and values.
emailed 8/25/2020 cc: Comissioners Hardesty, Eudaly, and Fritz