“On behalf of the City of Portland: No thanks,” Wheeler wrote in an open letter to Trump Friday. “We don’t need your politics of division and demagoguery.
“Portlanders are onto you. We have already seen your reckless disregard for human life in your bumbling response to the COVID pandemic. And we know you’ve reached the conclusion that images of violence or vandalism are your only ticket to reelection.”
During the Republican National Convention, Trump and his allies highlighted riots and destruction in cities led by Democrats, including Portland, to drive home his law-and-order campaign message.
Trump bashed Wheeler as “incompetent” on Twitter on Friday and threatened again to authorize a federal response.
“If the incompetent Mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, doesn’t get control of his city and stop the Anarchists, Agitators, Rioters and Looters, causing great danger to innocent people, we will go in and take care of matters the way they should have been taken care of 100 days ago!” Trump tweeted.
Wheeler, however, pointed to the “tens of thousands of Portlanders” who have “peacefully” protested in the weeks since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, which sparked a nationwide call for racial justice and police reforms. He defended the “proud progressive tradition of Portlanders fighting for justice.”
“When you sent the Feds to Portland last month, you made the situation far worse,” Wheeler wrote. “Your offer to repeat that disaster is a cynical attempt to stoke fear and distract us from the real work of our city.”
Trump previously sent federal agents to Portland to guard the U.S. courthouse, but Democratic politicians in Oregon denounced the agents’ aggressive tactics and demanded they leave.
The nightly protests in Portland have turned violent at times, resulting in injuries to both protesters and law enforcement, property damage and dozens of criminal charges.
On Friday evening, demonstrators staged a sit-in inside the lobby of Wheeler’s condominium building while others held a loud concert outside.
The protesters said they wouldn’t leave until Wheeler meets with them over their demands that he resign, reduce the Portland Police Bureau budget and never vote to increase police spending.
The protest appeared to be peaceful as of 10 p.m. local time, although red-paint handprints were seen on the glass outside the lobby, according to independent journalist Garrison Davis.
Fox News’ Brie Stimson and the Associated Press contributed to this report.