A Portland police lieutenant is being investigated for assisting the right-wing group Patriot Prayer to silence those that disagree with them after text messages came to light between the group and the officer.
The text messages show Lieutenant Jeff Niiya has been working with Patriot Prayer member Joey Gibson since 2017.
The messages reveal the two were communicating before, during, and after the violent protests that happened in downtown Portland.
Many of the protests were between the pro-Trump Patriot Prayer group and [Antifa, who are self-proclaimed anti-fascists.](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antifa_(United_States%29)
The police bureau released copies of the communication between the two Thursday evening, which show the two have been working hand-in- hand alerting each other of protests and counter protests along with their locations.
Niiya also notified Gibson on the amount of police presence for each protest ahead of time. In one of the messages, Niiya told Gibson that they were not monitoring a protest hosted by the Queer Liberation Front.
One of the text messages even showed communication between the two where Niiya told Gibson that Patriot Prayer member Tusitala “Tiny” Toese had an active warrant out and if Toese did not commit another crime, he would not be arrested.
Toese has been arrested numerous times for fighting protesters and assaulting others that were not protesters.
One of the messages on Dec. 8, 2017 show Niiya asking Gibson if Toese had “his court stuff taken care of.”
The following day, Niiya goes on further talking about how there was no need to arrest Toese, even if there was a known active warrant on him.
“Just make sure he doesn’t do anything which may draw our attention” he said. “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 officer and Gibson formed such a bond that they ended multiple conversations with wishing each other a great weekend. In one of the messages the officer congratulated Gibson when he shared his plans on becoming a U.S. Senator.
According to WWEEK:
“The hate against me will multiply because I am running for office, so when I come into Portland and Seattle the energy will be high,” Gibson wrote. “I know it’s a pain in the ass for you guys, but I will do the best I can to work with you.”
“Your [sic] running for office?!! Good for you. County level?”
Multiple emails have also been released between Niiya, other officers, and the FBI showing that there was communication between other members of the Patriot Prayer group and law enforcement.
The text messages quickly grew great criticism from Mayor Ted Wheeler, City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and multiple community leaders. Due to the public demanding a chance to speak out their concern over the officer’s actions, the police bureau decided to schedule a listening session on this coming Thursday at 6 p.m.
“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,” Ann Hardesty said.
According to OregonLive, City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly stated:
“This revelation has only served to confirm suspicions and deepen the divide between the PPB and the community. All members of our police bureau must follow our rules and uphold our progressive values, not aid and abet groups and individuals bent on doing harm to our communities and responsible for terrorizing our city.”
Wheeler received a death threat from one of the Patriot Prayer members last month.
While under investigation, Niiya has been removed from the departments Rapid Response Team and no longer able to communicate with any of the Patriot Prayer organizers. He has been the bureau contact person between protest organizers and the bureau. He has been doing so since 2011 during the Occupy movement.
Pacific Northwest Antifascist Workers Collective issued a call to arms on Twitter to join them outside City Hall on Friday to demand the city and Police Bureau “be held accountable for supporting, protecting and collaborating with violent ultra nationalists and fascists who perpetrate violence in our city.” Thought the tweet was retweeted near 150 times, only two dozen had gathered.
According to OregonLive,
The Oregon chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Oregon Justice Resource Center and Western States Center issued a statement, saying the “warm texts and helpful tips to Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson is just the latest news showing an inappropriate and disproportionate response to alt-right groups” from the Police Bureau.
Portland police Lt. Craig Morgan, president of the Portland Police Commanding Officers Association released the following statement:
“The PPCOA is confident the investigation will reveal that Lieutenant Niiya was acting in the best interest of the city of Portland and its community members. Lieutenant Niiya’s actions were within Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Directives and Policy,” Morgan wrote in response. ” Lieutenant Niiya was given direction by PPB management to establish relationships with known event or demonstration organizers to assist the bureau in its planning and to develop a shared understanding of the organizers’ needs and objectives. Furthermore, PPCOA believes the investigation will show Lieutenant Niiya always communicated with dignity, courtesy, and respect.”
While Morgan was closed minded, Police Chief Danielle Outlaw was open to hearing the community voice their concerns.
“It is imperative that we come together to hear people’s concerns and ideas. 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.”
The listening session has been slotted for two hours.
Photography is Not a Crime has combined all of the communication between Portland Police, FBI, and Gibson and it can be located here.