Portland, Ore. — Thursday afternoon, the Willamette Week reported on text messages between Patriot Prayer Founder Joey Gibson and Portland Police Lieutenant Jeff Niiya.
Within hours of that story being published, City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty issued the following statement:
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. 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. There are many examples of the Mayor and the City Council standing by, wringing our hands, wishing we could take action. Today is a new opportunity to demand the policing our community deserves – policing that treats all community members with respect and allows for peaceful protest free of intimidation and bias.
We have failed before, but we do not need to continue to fail. The incidents we hear about are not “one off’s” but everyday examples of a broken policing system in Portland that must be addressed. I look forward to supporting actions of accountability. I ask that the Mayor and Police Chief Outlaw take swift action and I will also be here to demand justice if that call is not met.
I stand with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and other community groups who ask for the following:
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler followed with his own written statement following Hardesty:
“The released text messages, which I learned about in today’s Willamette Week, are disturbing.
Community members have long expressed concerns about police bias during demonstrations. Incidents like this contribute to the distrust that so many people have about the Portland Police Bureau. This creates a mandate for specific training to identify and combat white supremacy. 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.
Moreover, the texts appear to unnecessarily encourage Joey Gibson, the leader of a group that perpetrates hate speech and violence. Demonstrations that he has led have caused significant disruption and increased fear in our community. I have directed Chief Outlaw to do a thorough investigation of this matter and report back to me expeditiously.”
Both of the statements by Commissioner Hardesty and Mayor Wheeler were issued before any of the actual text messages were released by the Willamette Week.
We have asked both if they saw the text messages before they were publish and if not, why they released their statements before reviewing the actual messages.
Thursday evening KXL’s Jim Ferretti spoke to Joey Gibson by phone.