GOP Senator Calls For Portland Mayor’s Resignation Over Handling Of Anti-ICE Protests

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy is calling on Portland Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler to resign over allegations that he ordered police to stand down in the face of violent protests and harassment of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees during a protracted “Occupy ICE” demonstration.

In a resolution introduced Tuesday, Cassidy blasted Wheeler’s handling of the anti-ICE protests, which roiled Portland for a month and at one point forced the agency to close its local office for several days. (RELATED: Portland Police Refused To Help ICE Agents Who Called 911, Agents Say)

Cassidy’s resolution denounced Wheeler for refusing to act when “a mob of leftwing activists recently surrounded an ICE office in southwest Portland, Oregon, trapping ICE employees inside the building.”

Wheeler should “immediately resign so that a leader committed to protecting all law-abiding citizens and public servants from harm can assume the duties of Mayor of Portland,” the resolution continued.

The Portland protests began in June in response to the Trump administration’s policy of separating illegal immigrant families while prosecuting adults for unlawful entry. They quickly morphed into a semi-permanent demonstration against the U.S. immigration system in general, with activists setting up a tent city across the street from the Portland ICE office.

During the 39-day demonstration, some of the protesters turned violent, hurling objects at police and assaulting journalists and local residents. In one instance, a food cart that feeds the homeless was forced to leave its spot near the ICE office due to constant harassment from the activists. (RELATED: Portland Food Cart Shut Down After Alleged Harassment From Occupy ICE Protesters)

Portland police finally cleared out the activist camp on July 25. The site was so dirty and contaminated with human waste and used needles that police had to call in a biohazard team to clean up the mess.

In the wake of the demonstrations, Portland Police Association president Daryl Turner criticized Wheeler, who also serves as Portland’s police commissioner, for allowing the Occupy ICE camp to remain in place for more than a months. He accused the mayor of letting his political views dictate the police response, citing Wheeler’s previous statement that he didn’t want police to get “sucked into” defending an agency he viewed as being on the “wrong track.”

Wheeler also came under fire from the union that represents ICE employees. In a June 30 letter to Wheeler’s office, the National ICE Council said the mayor had “created a zone of terror and lawlessness” by preventing police from expelling protesters from the camp.

Along with Wheeler, Cassidy’s resolution denounced New York Democratic candidates Cynthia Nixon and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who have prominently aligned themselves with the movement to abolish ICE.

Nixon, who is running for New York governor, has called ICE “a terrorist organization.”

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