Portland, Oregon Mayor Ted Wheeler has directed Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw to conduct an investigation into friendly text messages between the commander of the police rapid response team and Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson.
Wheeler called the exchange between the officer and Gibson, whose right-wing group has engaged in violent clashes with anti-fascist protesters on several occassions “disturbing.”
Willamette Week obtained the text messages between Lt. Jeff Niiya and Gibson
The texts show Niiya had a friendly rapport with Gibson, frequently discussing Gibson’s plans to demonstrate.
“It is imperative for law enforcement to remain objective and professional, and in my opinion, these text messages appear to cross several boundaries,” Wheeler said in a statement on Thursday.
“Moreover, the texts appear to unnecessarily encourage Joey Gibson, the leader of a group that perpetrates hate speech and violence,” Wheeler said.
In one text reported by the newspaper, Niiya tells Gibson that he doesn’t see a need to arrest his assistant, Tusitala Toese, who often brawls with antifascist protesters, even if he has a warrant, unless Toese commits a new crime.
“Just make sure he doesn’t do anything which may draw our attention,” Niiya texted Gibson on Dec. 9, 2017.
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