Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler said Saturday he was grateful for the White House’s “support” after President Biden reversed a Trump administration order that allowed federal agents to intervene in the city’s riots last summer.
“Thankful for the support of the current administration,” the embattled mayor, who narrowly won reelection, pointedly wrote on Twitter.
The anti-rioting executive order was among several Biden reversed Friday through his own executive orders.
Trump actions canceled by Biden included the former president’s July order to create a garden of monuments to “American Heroes” in response to damage to statues across the U.S.
The Trump administration sent hundreds of federal agents to the Oregon city last summer to protect the federal courthouse, which had become a target of vandalism during weeks of destructive, anti-police rioting.
The city saw 100 consecutive days of often violent protests last year sparked by the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd, for which a former Minneapolis police officer was convicted of murder last month.
PORTLAND PROTESTS, HOMELESSNESS HAVE RESIDENTS AVOIDING DOWNTOWN, POLL REVEALS
A federal investigative report last month found agents in Portland didn’t have the proper training or equipment to deal with riots and there was no plan for operating without the help of local police, who were eventually ordered to stand down by the city.
At the same time as the protests, Portland, one of the whitest major cities in America, was experiencing its deadliest year in more than a quarter-century — a trend seen nationwide — with shootings that overwhelmingly affected the Black community.
Amid the spike in gun violence in the city, Portland police Chief Chuck Lovell and Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon Kieran L. Ramsey said Saturday that officers would be patrolling the city in large numbers. That will include three FBI agents and members of the newly-formed Enhanced Community Safety Team, who focus exclusively on investigating shootings, according to The Oregonian.
The mayor and City Council have been criticized for bowing to political pressure in axing several police units last year, including the Gun Violence Reduction Team, which focused on gun violence.
Some families of victims have wondered if ending the unit is partly to blame for Portland’s dramatic spike in shootings, but officials and experts attribute increased gun violence in cities nationwide to the hardships of the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment, economic anxiety and stress on mental health.
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“Without a doubt, I think it is a possibility that my nephew could still be alive if (the Gun Violence Reduction Team) was not dissolved,” said Elmer Yarborough, who said two of his nephews were shot last summer, one fatally.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.