The mayor of Portland Ted Wheeler had his dinner interrupted by protesters before he was punched on Wednesday night as frustrations over how the mayor has responded to recent crises in the city boiled over.
Wheeler was having a drink with a girlfriend when the protesters walked up to him and began shout obscenities at the Democratic mayor.
Portland made national news as riots hit the city for more than 100 nights in a row last summer as Black Lives Matter protesters clashed with police in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May.
What began with calls to defund the police and reinvest in communities spiraled into anti-government demonstrations, including calls for Wheeler’s resignation.
The video shows Wheeler dining at Café Nell’s in Northwest Portland when he’s approached by a group of protesters.
A group of people confronted Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler while he was dining in Northwest Portland on Wednesday night
Wheeler and a companion were seated outdoors when a group started shouting obscenities at him
Portland endured more than 100 nights of rioting during last summer’s protest over racial inequality and police brutality the ramifications of which are still raw
A person off-camera can then be heard yelling at the mayor who remains calm throughout the video addressing him by his middle name Tevis.
Wheeler asks the person yelling at him how old he is before telling him he needs to grow up.
‘You are going to be made to feel like the scum you are,’ the protester says in the video. ‘F*** you! F*** you! Shame on you!’
‘I think you need to do your job as a f***ing mayor. I think you’re a disgrace,’ he replies after Wheeler says that he thinks the group should leave. ‘How dare you do sweeps when people are still on the streets.’
‘You think that we’re going to forget about you? We’re never going to forget you, Tevis. Ever. Ever. I hope you enjoyed your little wine… you’re f*****, Tevis.’
One of the hecklers, pictured, is alleged to have then punched the mayor although it was not caught on film
Tracy Molina, a prominent Portland activist, confronted Mayor Ted Wheeler and allegedly punched him
Jim Middaugh, a spokesman for the mayor, told The Oregonian the hecklers ‘pushed their way past restaurant employees’ to confront Wheeler while he was dining.
Although the mayor asked the group to leave ‘at that point, one member of the group started swatting the mayor and made physical contact with him,’ Middaugh said.
The punch was not captured on video although Wheeler managed to take a photograph of the woman he claimed hit him.
The woman, Tracy Molina, is a prominent social justice activist and regularly participates in the city’s protests against police violence and systemic racism.
The mayor did not press charges and no arrests were made. His office released a statement regarding the incident.
The video was posted to Twitter by citizen journalist Cozca Itzpapaloti
‘On Wednesday evening, during a non-work-related dinner with a friend in a designated outdoor area, Mayor Wheeler was confronted by a group of people. The Mayor had been seated for about five minutes when a group of people began shouting obscenities at the Mayor from the outside of the tent.
‘The Mayor attempted to ignore the group, but they eventually pushed their way past restaurant employees at the entrance to the tent and came inside. The Mayor asked them to leave. At that point, one member of the group started swatting at the Mayor and made physical contact with him. The Mayor was not injured. Restaurant staff persuaded the group to leave. Police arrived shortly after and the group dispersed.
‘The Mayor is committed to supporting local businesses and wants others to do the same. Given the tenor of political discourse nationally and locally, it’s not unusual for people to confront the Mayor and other elected officials in public. It’s part of the job. The Mayor will continue to support local restaurants and businesses as often as he can. He urges others to do the same.’
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler reacts after being exposed to tear gas fired by federal officers while attending a protest against police brutality and racial injustice last July
Wheeler lost the support of many of Portland’s citizens after his city’s police force used teargas and rubber bullets during the summer’s protests over racial inequality in which protesters ran riot and the mayor essentially lost control of the liberal city.
He has recently become tougher in his stance towards demonstrations and has said he wants to see tougher penalties for people repeatedly caught engaging in violence and vandalism.
Wheeler has said he wants police officers to have more tools to investigate protest-related violence and promises tougher policing against demonstrators who break the law.
Protesters such as those heard in the video are also frustrated with him for his handling of homelessness in the city which has seen continued sweeps of tent encampments when many are financially struggling during the pandemic.
Nevertheless, Wheeler, won a second term as mayor in November despite criticism after months of protests and riots in the city.
Speaking after his win, Wheeler called for unity as he embarked on another four years as mayor.
‘We’re going to need to come together as never before to address short-term issues and the long-term changes and investments needed to rebuild our economy, rebuild confidence in law enforcement and restore hope for our future,’ he said
There were more than 100 nights of rioting last summer which saw protesters tear gassed and fired upon with rubber bullets by the city’s police force