Portland Police Exposed For ‘Colluding’ With Violent Right-Wing Extremists
In an explosive revelation, it has come to light that law enforcement leadership in Oregon have been in frequent contact with the leader of a right-wing extremist group which has, in recent years, organized events in the Pacific Northwest that frequently devolve into violence.
A group called Patriot Prayer came to national attention in 2017 when a rally in September drew a number of counter-protesters; at one point, a member of Patriot Prayer attempted to drive a truck into the opposing group but, fortunately, did not cause any injuries.
Thanks to violent rallies like that one and others, the leader of Patriot Prayer, Joey Gibson, has enjoyed an elevated profile — both among white nationalists and antifa-related demonstrators. More recently, Gibson has come under even greater scrutiny when it was revealed that he has been in contact with Portland Police Lt. Jeff Niiya.
Niiya leads the department’s protest response unit, handling violent clashes if they occur at demonstrations. As such, part of his duties, as a spokesperson for his department explains, is to reach out to demonstration organizers to develop a rapport and avoid dangerous incidents.
The type of relationship Niiya and Gibson have developed, however, may have gone too far and suggests there was likely a degree of coordination between Portland police and Patriot Prayer.
A text message exchange between the pair from late 2017 included Niiya telling Gibson that even though a fellow member of his, Tusitala Toese, had a warrant out for his arrest, Niiya would discourage carrying it out as long as Toese kept a low profile at upcoming demonstrations. Niiya writes, “I don’t see a need to arrest on the warrant unless there is a reason.”
Niiya was also found to have sent text messages to Gibson on several occasions to alert him to upcoming demonstrations by opposition groups. In one instance, Niiya informed Gibson that a Queer Liberation Front protest would not be monitored by Portland police.
Perhaps the most damning exchange came when Gibson contacted Niiya to tell him about his yet-to-be publicly announced intent to run for office as a U.S. senator.
“Your [sic] running for office?!! Good for you,” Niiya wrote in response.
After these text messages were published by Willamette Week, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler described the exchanges as “disturbing” and called for both internal and external investigations. He added that it raised serious concerns about whether law enforcement were acting “objective and professional” and whether “warrants were being enforced consistently.”
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty offered a far harsher condemnation, saying that she was “not shocked” and “not surprised” by these revelations, saying it had previously been an open secret that law enforcement in Portland were in “collusion with right-wing extremists.” Hardesty joined Wheeler in calling for “meaningful accountability.”
This article was originally published on Care2.com on February 20, 2019.