In the wake of WW's reporting on texts between a Portland Police lieutenant and Patriot Prayer organizer Joey Gibson, Portland's mayor and a city commissioner have condemned the content of the texts and called for internal and external investigations of the Police Bureau's contact with the right-wing group.
Mayor Ted Wheeler says he directed Police Chief Danielle Outlaw to conduct a "thorough investigation" of bureau communications with Patriot Prayer, a right-wing protest group that has frequently drawn white supremacists and other extremists to its rallies.
"The released text messages, which I learned about in today's Willamette Week, are disturbing," the mayor said in a statement. "It is imperative for law enforcement to remain objective and professional, and in my opinion, these text messages appear to cross several boundaries. They also raise questions about whether warrants are being enforced consistently and what information is being shared with individuals who may be subject to arrest."
Wheeler also says the texts undermine community trust in the police, by giving the appearance that officers are encouraging right-wing agitators who have made a habit of fighting in Portland's streets.
"The texts appear to unnecessarily encourage Joey Gibson, the leader of a group that perpetrates hate speech and violence," Wheeler said. "Demonstrations that he has led have caused significant disruption and increased fear in our community."
Minutes earlier, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty called for an independent investigation into collaboration between police and alt-right or white supremacist groups.
"I am not shocked, and I am not surprised at today's reporting of Lt. Jeff Niiya's collaboration with Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson over text to provide aid and support for their hate marches," Hardesty said in a statement. "This story, like many that have come before it, simply confirms what many in the community have already known – there are members of the Portland police force who work in collusion with right-wing extremists. The time for indignation and feigned outrage is past, and the time for meaningful accountability is here. "
Hardesty called on Mayor Ted Wheeler and Police Chief Danielle Outlaw to take "swift action."
Wheeler has already obliged.
Download the texts released to WW here. WW has redacted individuals' phone numbers and replaced Niiya and Gibsons' phone numbers with their names for clarity, but the texts are otherwise unchanged.