Wheeler issues statement on Portland protests, shootings
Mayor Ted Wheeler spoke out about events roiling Portland on Saturday, posting a statement on his Facebook page that addressed the officer-involved shooting in Lents Park, the recent violent protests and his ongoing effort to reform the Portland Police Bureau.
Wheeler posted the statement the morning of April 17, following both peaceful protests and a downtown riot sparked by the police shooting of a man reportedly armed with a gun in Lents Park. The incident happened after Wheeler authorized an independent investigation into the bureau following the release of a police report that falsely accused Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, a police critic, of being involved in a hit-and-run accident.
The statement was also released as the City Council has taken steps to reduce a surge in gun violence. The council recently approved a $6 million package that funds community-based organizations working to reduce shootings and authorizes a new police unit to investigate them. The bureau also recently joined an FBI-led Metro Safe Streets Task Force to investigate shootings that includes the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, the Gresham Police Department, the U.S. Department of Justice and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
So far in 2021, there have been more than 30 homicides. In Multnomah County, nearly half of which involved a firearm. There have been at least 284 non-suicide shootings in Portland since the start of the year.
Here is Wheeler's statement:
"As your Mayor, you can count on me to passionately lead our city when it comes to community safety. I'm focused on four key priorities:
"First, we will continue to reform the police bureau and our public safety system. We hear the calls for change. Just last week we authorized an independent review of the bureau's culture. We're making progress on investigations and on implementing the voter-approved police accountability measure.
"Second, we will continue to fight gun violence. The City Council unanimously adopted a range of new actions and investments to prevent and disrupt the cycles of violence on Portland's streets. We must end the gun violence trauma that is disproportionately harming Black and Brown men and their families.
"Third, we will continue to identify, arrest and prosecute the self-described anarchists who seek to sow chaos and anarchy and to snuff out our employers and jobs. We are making targeted arrests and the suspects are up for potentially long sentences. We will continue to find ways to support the employers and jobs that have been harmed. And we will not stop.
"And fourth, we will protect and defend freedom of speech for Portlanders, including passionate and peaceful protests. In the coming days, we will say more about a peace compact for community gatherings and our work lift of the voices of those calling for meaningful change. [sic].
"Today, my thoughts are with the family of the man who was shot in Lents Park. My thoughts are with the business owners and employees who are cleaning instead of opening today. My thoughts are with the officers who put their lives on the line to protect our city. And, my thoughts are focused on maintaining the determination we need to advance much-needed change."
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