Ted Wheeler: Portland Mayor demands immediate meeting with DHS to discuss ‘ceasefire’

Mayor Ted Wheeler said in a tweet Monday night that he and Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty are requesting a meeting with Wolf and senior DHS officials on the ground in Portland “to discuss a high the fire and the elimination of Portland’s intensified federal forces. “

CNN has contacted DHS for comment.

The mayor has tried to reduce tensions in the city between residents protesting racial inequality and police brutality, and federal agents, who were dispatched there earlier this month by President Donald Trump in an attempt to protect the federal property.

For several nights, largely peaceful protests in the city have turned violent when a small subgroup of protesters has set fire to and launched fireworks at the downtown federal court. The problem has prompted local Portland city officials and members of the Trump administration to engage in a public war of words on who is to blame for the protesters’ actions.

Although Wheeler had already asked federal agents to withdraw from Portland, his demand for a meeting with DHS indicates a change in his previously entrenched public stance. When asked by CNN last week if he was in contact with Wolf, the mayor played down the need for any communication.

“I have no reason to contact him,” he said. “My demands are clear. I want them to leave.”

Wheeler and other Oregon officials have criticized the tactics of federal agents. Recent videos of the protest scenes show DHS staff arresting protesters and putting them in unmarked SUVs.

In one of those videos that was shared on Twitter by Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, two masked individuals camouflaged with generic “police” patches, detain a person dressed in a black suit and place them in an unmarked van before leave. The United States Office of Customs and Border Protection identified the officers as belonging to that agency and indicated that the man was being sought for questioning about a possible crime. However, a DHS official said he was later released.
“The tactics the Trump administration is using on the streets of Portland are abhorrent,” Wheeler told CNN’s Jake Tapper in “State of the Union” last week. “Apparently, people are being taken off the street in unmarked vans, rental cars, apparently. They are denied probable cause. And they are denied due process.”

Wheeler himself received tear gas last week after joining the crowds to listen to protesters and answer their questions in response to violent clashes between protesters and federal forces. It is unknown at this time who is responsible for the deployment of the tear gas and there is nothing to indicate that the mayor was the target.

Officers’ actions are being reviewed by Department of Justice and DHS inspectors general.

CNN’s Alta Spells contributed to this report.