Wheeler ‘feels lucky to be mayor’ after Women’s March

"There is a strong value in this community to be engaged, active and expressive"

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler with a young demonstrator during the Women's March on Portland, January 21, 2017. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Mayor Ted Wheeler commended the peaceful Women’s March on Portland Saturday, calling it “an incredible day for Portland.”

Newly-inaugurated Wheeler was out among the thousands of Portlanders who marched in solidarity with men, women and children in hundreds of other cities across the U.S. and internationally.

The Women’s March events were organized as a show of unity and empowerment on the heels of President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

“This has been a very positive, family friendly event,” the mayor said. “A lot of people out here expressing their First Amendment rights and doing so in a peaceful way.”

Officers use tear gas against anti-Trump protesters in downtown Portland, January 20, 2017. (KOIN)
Officers use tear gas against anti-Trump protesters in downtown Portland, January 20, 2017. (KOIN)

Despite the enormous turnout, Saturday’s march was tame in comparison to Friday’s inauguration protests where demonstrators who reportedly tried walking onto local bridges clashed with police dressed in riot gear. The event ultimately ended with officers using pepper spray and flash bangs to disperse the crowds.

Several protesters were arrested for disorderly conduct and harassment.

“Last night was much more tense,” Wheeler said. “We definitely knew that the vast majority of people were there to march peacefully and express their First Amendment rights… but it was definitely a different situation than today.”

The Women’s March on Portland was permitted, which Wheeler said allowed organizers and city officials to plan ahead of time and determine an effective route.

Police described the march as 100% peaceful. No arrests were made.

“This march was, we think, one of the largest in Portland history… and absolutely zero incidents or problems were reported,” PPB Sgt. Pete Simpson said.

Wheeler said the Women’s March illustrated Portland’s longstanding ability to demonstrate effectively, meaningfully and in a peaceful manner.

“There is a strong value in this community to be engaged, active and expressive, and I strongly support that,” he said. “Today just completely cements my faith in this community. What a great community we live in. I feel really lucky to be mayor.”