Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is now saying that keeping the police away from a violent protest weeks ago was a mistake.
During a city council meeting on Wednesday, Wheeler said he takes full responsibility for the police department's hands-off approach after Proud Boys and antifascists violently clashed in the streets on Aug. 22, calling it "not the right strategy."
The violent clash, which happened in a diverse neighborhood, saw the two sides using bats and spraying bear mace at each other. But with no police in sight, residents said they felt “terrorized and abandoned," the Associated Press reported.
A day after the clash, Wheeler released a statement, saying he thought the method was effective "because violence was contained to the groups of people who chose to engage in violence toward each other" and that "the community at large was not harmed, and the broader public was protected."
But on Wednesday, the mayor, who also serves as police commissioner, did an about-face saying the hands-off approach wasn't the correct one.
“It is clear based on the public outcry, on the media outcry, on the national front, that that strategy was not the right strategy. I think we can all acknowledge that” Wheeler said.