Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler says he’s looking for a new place to live after his Pearl District condo building has been the site of repeated demonstrations, including on Monday when crowds demanded he resign and some people set fires and broke windows.
In an email Tuesday from Wheeler to other residents of the 16-floor high-rise tower, the mayor said it would be “best for me and for everyone else’s safety and peace” that he finds a new home. He assured people that police are taking their safety concerns seriously and invited them to a Thursday evening meeting that will include himself and officers to voice their concerns.
“I want to express my sincere apologies for the damage to our home and the fear that you are experiencing due to my position,” Wheeler wrote in the email, according to a screenshot sent to The Oregonian/OregonLive. “It’s unfair to all of you who have no role in politics or in my administration.”
The building has 114 units and retail space on the bottom floor. Wheeler bought his two-bedroom condo for $840,000 in 2017, according to Multnomah County property records.
Protests calling for social justice and policing reforms have taken place daily throughout the city since late May. Demonstrators have gathered outside Wheeler’s condo building sporadically since mid-June — at least twice when he was not there. On Monday, Wheeler’s 58th birthday, some in a group of more than 200 damaged the building and sidewalk and threw a burning bundle of newspapers into retail space in the building.
Police arrested 19 people during the demonstration. Most are accused of disorderly conduct and interfering with a peace officer; the latter is the most common accusation leveled against protesters arrested during demonstrations over the past three months.
A widely circulated video recorded by an Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter during the overnight demonstration shows a Portland police officer tackling a person to the ground and repeatedly punching the person in the head.
The mayor’s office said Tuesday that case will likely be reviewed by the city’s Independent Police Review. In a public statement, Wheeler described both the officer’s punches and the damage to the area buildings as “senseless violence.”
“These acts range from stupid, to dangerous, to criminal,” Wheeler said. “The violence must stop. None of this should sit well with any thinking Portlander.”
The demonstration drew a response from Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell, who called on elected officials to “draw a line in the sand and to hold people accountable.” He did not address any footage of officers attacking people.
Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek called for greater acknowledgment by elected officials of Portland police’s role in violence that occurs during nightly protests. Kotek, who represents parts of North and Northeast Portland, said officers who use excessive force to be held “sufficiently accountable.”