PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Black Lives Matter protesters in Portland shifted their focus to the city’s mayor, and police declared a riot as people broke windows, vandalized a business and set a fire inside the upscale apartment building where Mayor Ted Wheeler lives.
The demonstration that began late Monday and extended into Tuesday fell on Wheeler’s 58th birthday and featured shiny golden alphabet balloons that spelled out an expletive. Protesters sang on the street outside the mayor’s building, some wearing party hats.
Wheeler, who is also police commissioner, has come under fire for his failure to bring the violence in Oregon’s largest city under control and for heading up a police force that has used tear gas multiple times against demonstrators.
Some also blame the mayor for engaging in a war of words with President Donald Trump instead of focusing on local needs. Trump has put Portland and other Democrat-led cities in the crosshairs of a “law and order” re-election campaign — a move that’s escalated tensions in the city and drawn the attention of right-wing Trump supporters.