Ted Wheeler, mayor of Portland in US state of Oregon was tear-gassed while speaking at a protest on Wednesday night. He was tear-gassed by federal officers who were deployed by President Donald Trump to quell the protest in his city.
Wheeler had joined the crowd to listen to protesters and answer their questions after violent clashes between demonstrators and federal forces. However after the protesters started a large fire in the space between the fence and the courthouse, federal agents deployed teargas and stun grenades into the crowd.
Wheeler appeared slightly dazed and coughed as he put on a pair of goggles someone handed him and drank water. He didn’t leave his spot at the front and he continued to take gas.
It was not immediately clear if the agents knew Wheeler was in the crowd when they used the teargas. Commenting on being tear-gassed in downtown Portland, Wheeler told Times;
“It stings. It’s hard to breathe. I can tell you with 100% honesty I saw nothing that provoked this response. I’m not afraid but I am pissed off.”
Though the mayor has opposed federal agents’ presence in Oregon’s largest city, he has faced harsh criticism from many sides. While taking questions on Wednesday night before he was tear gassed, he was criticized for the actions of his own police department, not defunding the local police, the national movement that seeks to redirect funds from policing to community needs like housing and education and not having Portland police protect people from federal agents.
Wheeler however said he wants to use the energy of the protests to make changes.