Local elected officials react to violence in nation's capital
The lawmakers threatened with violence today may have been 3,000 miles away but local elected officials had quick reactions from right here as well.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler opened the Wednesday meeting of the City Council by denouncing and blaming President Donald for what was happening in Washington, D.C. "It is an assault and an affront to our democracy," said Wheeler, who called the siege of the Capitol "incredibly dangerous" and an "attack on American democracy" orchestrated by Trump.
Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said she was "appalled" by what she described as a "terrorist attack on our democracy." But Hardesty said she was not surprised by the events, saying Trump had encouraged it for years by dividing Americans against each other.
Added Commissioner Mingus Mapps said, "Today, our nation witnessed armed insurgents storm the Capitol building for the first time since the War of 1812. These actions undermine the integrity of our country, our democracy and our Constitution. This is terrorism and it must be stopped."
Watching the violence occurring across the country reminded Gresham Council President Eddy Morales of an incident that occurred last summer in his own community: A large contingent of protestors, spearheaded by members of the Proud Boys, descended upon Gresham City Hall in June, threatening to tear down a Black Lives Matter flag that was being flown after a unanimous vote by council. Morales went to stand alongside other community members underneath the flag pole that afternoon, preventing the group from destroying city property.
"We shouldn't normalize attacks on our democracy," Morales said Wednesday. "As an elected official and resident I stood in protest of that hate, and I will continue to do that — we should all be doing that."
Morales described the actions in Washington, D.C., and Salem as the "ugliest side of our country" that was given room to grow by President Trump and other elected leaders.
"It is important to call it what it is — this is what terrorism looks like," Morales said. "It is a reminder of the life-threatening difference by how Black Lives Matter supporters and white supremacists are treated in this country by law enforcement."
Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba also compared responses between Washington D.C. protests.
"It sure took them a while to repulse the siege of the capitol with tear gas and flash bangs," Gamba said. "They were much quicker on the trigger against peaceful BLM protesters to facilitate Trump's photo-op."
Joe Buck, Lake Oswego mayor, called it "unbelievable."
"I think what's happening is a complete disgrace and a representation of the worst in the U.S.," Buck said. "I think of the Capitol as a place of revere, a place of great respect, regardless of the decisions that have been made there — decisions I've agreed with, decisions I haven't agreed with — but a place of great respect."
He said to see people damage that space is abhorrent.
"Progress and justice in our country have never been easy, and have always been locked in conflict with bigotry and white supremacy," said Deborah Kafoury, chairwoman of the Multnomah County Commission. "Last night, our country saw the historic elections of the first Black and Jewish senators from Georgia, propelled by a more hopeful and inclusive vision of America; a half-day later, we were witnessing a grotesque attempt at an insurrection, fueled by imagined grievances and palpable rage. Although the current administration has worked feverishly to weaken our system of checks and balances, I am hopeful that the violence at the Capitol will end quickly and that the peaceful transfer of power will continue as it has for 245 years."
Wood Village Mayor Scott Harden issued a rebuke Wednesday afternoon. "A president with a blind spot for the truth encouraging insurgents with a blind spot for the president's abhorrent behavior," Harden said. "Today, armed insurgents breached our (nation's) Capitol building. It was hardly different than the Shiite Militia attacking the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in 2019. Only this time our president was complicit in the attack."
Oregon Rep. Mark Meek, D-Gladstone, was reminded of the Dec. 21 riot at the Salem Capitol Building, breaking windows but repulsed by Oregon State Police. Neither protest, he said, was successful in expressing opinions effectively.
"I was a little fearful for both our OSP and security," Meek said.
Troutdale Mayor-elect Randy Lauer, who will be sworn into office on Tuesday, Jan. 12, bristled at the violence and the possibility that it would cause deeper divisions in the social and political landscapes. "Anger and violence is never the way," Lauer said. "We're on the precipice of change in this country and change is difficult to say the least. But, when we meet that change with hostility, we only create a more difficult situation than before."
Lauer called for a resurgence of self-responsibility and self-awareness. "We seem to have lost (that) some years ago and that will be vital in getting over the hurdles that lay ahead of us," he said.
John Ludlow, a former Wilsonville mayor and Clackamas County chair, said he voted for Trump. But on Wednesday, he, too, was critical of the president.
"A real leader would have said days ago, even after the election, no matter what happens we need to let the process go through the electoral college," Ludlow said. "He should have said 'Stand down. Stay out of the Capitol.' That's the thing that makes me very upset with Trump."
But Ludlow also added this, regarding Wednesday's riot in the Capitol: "They didn't shoot anyone. They didn't start any fires. They were wrong. However in our own backyard in Portland they've done a hell of a lot worse and no one called out the National Guard on that."
News reports indicate one woman was shot and killed inside the Capitol but details were few on Wednesday afternoon.
Jeff Gudman, Lake Oswego Republican who was 2020 candidate for Oregon treasurer, reacted as well. "In terms of the specific actions today, it's unacceptable and it's appalling," he said. "Violence is not the answer. Facts are stubborn things."
Gudman said President Trump lost the election and that people must accept that in order to move forward.
For state Rep. Anna Williams, D-Hood River, the violence in D.C. today reminded her of the recent day the Oregon Capitol was stormed. "On Dec. 21, I watched from my office window while armed extremists tried to force their way into our state capitol. After four years of being empowered by a president who disrespects democracy, humanity, and anything that stands to diminish his personal power, it's not surprising that his supporters have resorted to violence and insurrection," she said.
"So, while I'm sadly not surprised by the events in Washington, D.C. today, I worry that it has only emboldened people who continue to believe the president, who — despite a complete lack of credible evidence — continues to insist that Joe Biden's victory was fraudulent. Our state and our nation have been torn apart by people's inability to tell the difference between fact and propaganda. This attempted coup is based entirely on disinformation, spread by cynical elected officials who refuse to accept the will of the voters, or to accept the decisions of the courts who have dismissed their cases."
Sandy City Councilor Kathleen Walker called the day, "shocking and sad," adding, "a First Amendment peaceful protest transitioned to open anarchy, violence and the death of a young woman. I imagine that those folks storming the Capitol will be facing serious charges, that will have life altering consequences. We must have law and order if we want to save our democracy."
"I was extremely shocked and almost got sick to my stomach. It's something I never thought I would see," said Wilsonville Mayor Julie Fitzgerald, speaking Wednesday. "There's nothing each of us can do today more than, I think, remaining calm and checking in with our family and friends and trying to show compassion and leadership for good citizenship. That's what I think we can do today."
Reporters Brittany Allen, Steve Brown, Dana Haynes, Christopher Keizur, Jim Redden, Raymond Rendleman, Clara Howell, Corey Buchanan and Zane Sparling contributed to this article.
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