The Christian Science Monitor

Free assembly vs. public safety: US mayors making it work

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has been getting it from all sides. 

After more than 80 days of protests over racial injustice and policing, one of the city’s biggest real estate developers emailed the mayor and his City Council colleagues last month, warning about businesses leaving because of the “lawlessness you are endorsing downtown.” Many businesses in the city core are still boarded up – and now shrouded in smoke from wildfires. 

Over the summer, protesters against police brutality and racial injustice sporadically demonstrated at the mayor’s condominium. When a large crowd broke windows, sprayed graffiti, and set fires at his building on Aug. 31, he announced he’d be moving.  

As Alison Gash, a Portlander and political science professor at the University of Oregon, puts it: Mayor Wheeler is “in a tough spot.”

And so are mayors nationwide, as they grapple with concerns about police brutality and systemic racism during a sharply divided presidential election season. It’s a tricky balancing act – guaranteeing constitutional

Burning mattresses obscure progressOld-fashioned tool: Listen to protesters

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