Recovered text messages between Portland, Oregon police Lieutenant Jeff Niiya and Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson have stunned the community, revealing collaboration between the two men.
Portland official warns of collusion between police and far-right Patriot Prayer group https://t.co/eMEVzPsRqp
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) February 15, 2019
Hundreds of text messages revealed a friendly relationship between the law enforcement lieutenant and the alt-right protest organizer despite the group’s penchant for violence and the known criminals in the Patriot Prayer organization.
The Willamette Week reports:
‘Gibson’s events, occurring regularly in the Pacific Northwest since President Donald Trump’s election, have alarmed and enraged Portlanders—even prompting the mayor to propose new rules restricting protests. That’s because the rallies have attracted white supremacists and other extremists, and are often thinly veiled pretexts for Gibson’s group, the Vancouver-Wash-based Patriot Prayer, to wage violent street fights with masked antifascists.’
Hundreds of texts between Portland police and right-wing organizer Joey Gibson reveal the extent to which law enforcement officers talked to and even coordinated with right-wing activists in order to police protests in 2017 and 2018. https://t.co/gQHKecGb3c
— Willamette Week (@wweek) February 14, 2019
Niiya is the head of Portland’s “rapid response team that patrols protests [which] makes him one of the primary officers collecting intelligence about protest groups in Portland. Although it’s often important for police to work with controversial groups in order to protect the community as well as the groups’ rights to free speech, the texts show not only a willingness to work together to avoid conflict, the text messages went much farther than that.
‘Niiya and the Portland Police Bureau have good reason to collect intelligence from right-wing organizers. Yet some of Niiya’s texts raise questions about whether Portland Police help Patriot Prayer supporters to evade arrest during events.’
Portland mayor and city commish ask police chief (named Outlaw) to investigate whether cops have been collaborating with members of violent far-right groups Patriot Prayer and Proud Boys.https://t.co/dUpU3oKgHA
— Luke O'Brien (@lukeobrien) February 15, 2019
Even with warrants pending against some of the Patriot Prayer group, at least one of which is a warrant against a member who regularly inflicts violence against counter-protestors as well as onlookers, Niiya told Gibson in text messages that his members wouldn’t be arrested.
‘On Dec. 8, 2017, Niiya asks Gibson if Toese had “his court stuff taken care of,” referring to an active warrant for Toese’s arrest. Niiya goes on to say officers ignored the warrant at a past protest and tells Gibson that he doesn’t see a need to arrest Toese 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 on Dec. 9. “If he still has the warrant in the system (I don’t run you guys so I don’t personally know) the officers could arrest him. I don’t see a need to arrest on the warrant unless there is a reason.”‘
the portland police officer told the patriot prayer guy about where he could find a protest of queer people unprotected by police. https://t.co/DCoVoESIkU
— Molly Priddy (@mollypriddy) February 14, 2019
In perhaps the most disturbing exchange, Niiya informed Gibson about an upcoming protest for LGBTQ rights that wouldn’t be monitored by police. While Niiya insists that he did so in order to discourage the Patriot Prayer group from showing up, it also means that he gave this violent group a heads-up about an unprotected protest of people who are disproportionately victims of violence.
‘The texts also show that Niiya at times told Gibson where leftist protests were taking place, including unrelated protests as well as antifascist marches with people in black bloc intent on protesting Patriot Prayer. At least once, Niiya told Gibson that Portland police were not monitoring a protest hosted by the Queer Liberation Front.’
Featured image screenshot via YouTube