The mayor of Portland on Thursday ordered police in Oregon’s largest city to stop using tear gas for crowd control during the frequently violent protests that have racked the city for more than three months since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, was tear gassed when he went to a demonstration against the presence of federal authorities dispatched to the city to protect federal property.
He said he still wants police to respond aggressively to prevent violence and vandalism. Hundreds of people have been arrested since the protests started in May.
“I expect the police to arrest people who engage in criminal acts. I expect the District Attorney to prosecute those who commit criminal acts. And I expect the rest of the criminal justice system to hold those individuals accountable,” Wheeler said.
The protesters want city officials to slash the police budget and reallocate that money to Black residents and businesses. Some demonstrators are also demanding the resignation of Wheeler, a white man and the scion of a timber company fortune.
In clashes with police, some protesters have broken windows, set small fires, punctured police car tires, shined lasers in officers’ eyes and pelted them with rocks and frozen water bottles.
Wheeler recently moved out of his high-rise apartment after protesters targeted the building, setting a fire in a business on the ground floor.
Meanwhile, authorities in neighbouring Washington state said that the cause of death of a man who was suspected of killing a right-wing activist in Portland was gunshots to his head and torso, The Seattle Times reported.
Michael Reinoehl’s death was ruled a homicide by Thurston County Coroner Gary Warnock, who ruled out the possibility that Reinoehl had shot himself.
Reinhoehl, 48, a self-described anti-fascist and Black Lives Matter supporter, died after Pacific Northwest Violent Offender Task Force members, headed by the U.S. Marshals Service, moved in to make an arrest and fired at him outside an apartment building on Sept. 3 in Lacey, Washington.
Warnock said he did not immediately know the number of times Reinoehl had been shot. The bullets recovered from his body have been sent to the state’s crime lab, he said.
Authorities have said that after Reinoehl tried to leave the building in a car, the task force used their vehicles to box the car in. At least four officers fired at Reinoehl.
A team investigating the shooting has said Reinoehl displayed a gun during the encounter. The team, headed by the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, has not confirmed whether he fired at officers.
The task force was executing a warrant, issued a day earlier for Reinoehl’s arrest on second-degree murder and illegal gun charges in the shooting of Aaron “Jay” Danielson.
Danielson, 39, a supporter of President Donald Trump and the far-right Patriot Prayer group, was shot and killed Aug. 29 after duelling protests in Portland.