Portland Cop Pulled From Duty Assignment, Protests Planned After Texts Reveal Police Discussions With Right-Wing Leader

"It is imperative that we come together to hear people's concerns and ideas," Chief Danielle Outlaw said.

Police and antifascist protesters gather in downtown Portland on Nov. 17, 2018. (Sam Gehrke)

As the Portland Police Bureau investigates hundreds of text messages between an officer and right-wing provocateur Joey Gibson, activists in Portland are readying for a battle with City Hall to remove the police from Mayor Ted Wheeler's control.

The Portland Police Bureau removed Lt. Jeff Niiya, the officer whose texts were released Thursday in response to a public records request WW filed in November, from his position on the rapid response team, which polices protests. Niiya has also been ordered to cease all communication with protest organizers, a police spokeswoman said Friday morning.

City officials have called for investigation of the Police Bureau after a WW story revealed texts that show police disregarded an arrest warrant and shared details about the location of leftist protesters with Gibson, who leads the Vancouver, Wash.-based right-wing group Patriot Prayer.

Wheeler called for Chief Danielle Outlaw to conduct an internal investigation and called the content of the texts reported by WW "disturbing."

Police Chief Danielle Outlaw has ordered the bureau to conduct an internal investigation of officers' communications with far-right organizers to determine if any bureau policies have been violated.

Activists are not satisfied. Civil rights advocates and Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty have called for a second, independent investigation.

Commissioner Chloe Eudaly now tells WW she also supports an independent investigation.

"There is an inappropriate relationship between some PPB members and Patriot Prayer," Commissioner Chloe Eudaly says. "We have yet to find out the full extent of all relationships that exist and policy violations that have been committed."

The Direct Action Alliance, a coalition of left-leaning activists, say they will mount city-wide protests, marches and shut-downs if Wheeler does not cede control of the Police Bureau to Hardesty.

Wheeler tells WW he won't give up management of the police.

"No," he says, "that's not something I'm considering."

Meanwhile, the Police Bureau has scheduled a "community listening session" at the Maranatha Church on NE 12th Avenue on Feb. 21 from 6 to 8 p.m.

"It is imperative that we come together to hear people's concerns and ideas," Chief Outlaw said in a statement. "2019 is a year for solutions. We would like for the public to have the opportunity to share with the Portland Police Bureau their ideas for how to move forward."

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