Portland Mayor Targeted By Leaf Blower After Being Tear Gassed

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler was targeted with leaf blowers shortly after he was apparently tear gassed by federal authorities on Wednesday night.

Wheeler was met with tear gas several times as he stood by a fence guarding the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse during yet another night of demonstrations in the Oregon city.

Mike Baker, a correspondent for The New York Times, posted a video on Twitter where Wheeler, wearing goggles and a surgical mask, said the pain from the gas made it "hard to breathe."

Baker shared another video where Wheeler is seen struggling to speak to people as a whirring leaf blower is pointed at his head. "Leaf blowers target Wheeler," Baker wrote alongside the clip.

It wasn't clear who was aiming the leaf blower at Wheeler, but a group of Portland dads who call themselves the "PDX Dad Pod" have been carrying them at protests in recent days to help blow back gas to stop it from affecting other protesters, including the Wall of Moms group.

The PDX Dad Pod Twitter account retweeted Baker's video without comment early Thursday.

"We don't know who that was or if they were a self-identified Dad," a spokesperson for PDX Dad Pod told Newsweek.

But they added: "In true Portland hipster dad fashion, Ted Wheeler and his police bureau were gassing and shooting Portlanders before it was cool. The national spotlight that's focused on Portland because of the federal government's heinous acts must know that Black and brown people have been under siege in this city for decades. #TearGasTed out now!!"

Earlier this week, the account posted a tweet that showed a photo of the leaf blowers the dads carried at protests.

The tweet urged people to "come stand up for your town, your neighbors, your kids. Look for the other orange shirts, use the buddy system. And remember, safety first."

Wheeler's arrival was met with jeers and yells, but he was briefly applauded when he shouted "Black Lives Matter" and pumped his fist in the air, the Associated Press reported.

But signs saying "Tear Gas Ted" were also waved by protesters in the crowd, referencing the Portland Police Bureau's use of tear gas before the Trump administration deployed federal agents to the city following weeks of unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May.

Rebecca Ellis, a reporter with Oregon Public Broadcasting, tweeted that the crowd turned on Wheeler shortly after tear gas was deployed by federal agents.

"Crowd has grown extremely angry with Wheeler. Calling this a photo op. He's now being trailed out of park by large group," she wrote.

Reporter Sergio Olmos tweeted a video that showed Wheeler leaving the area as people in the crowd threw water and yelled at him. "The mayor left, protesters weren't that welcoming, but it's also day 55 and you really gotta put in the days before you get first bumper being out here," Olmos wrote.

Portland Police declared a riot shortly after Wheeler left, warning crowds to disperse or face arrest, teargassing or impact munitions.

"A riot has been declared outside the Justice Center. Disperse to the north and/or west. Disperse immediately," police tweeted. "Failure to adhere to this order may subject you to arrest or citation, or riot control agents, including, but not limited to, tear gas and/or impact weapons."

This article has been updated with a comment from PDX Dad Pod.

Ted Wheeler
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler reacts after being exposed to tear gas fired by federal officers on July 22, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. Nathan Howard/Getty Images