In my 38 years of traversing God’s green Earth as a black ass black man, common sense has informed me that the interests of the police and the interests of individuals who look like me don’t always coincide.
So news that the commanding officer for the Portland Police Bureau’s rapid response team is exchanging emojis and ROFLMAO’s with a far-right protest organizer, courtesy of NBC News, is about as shocking as discovering that Diddy uses ghostwriters.
A member of Portland’s city council said Thursday a newspaper’s report that the commander for the police rapid response team exchanged friendly text messages with a leader of far-right protests that have rocked the city confirms collusion exists between some police and right-wing extremists.
“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,” Councilwoman Jo Ann Hardesty said in a statement.
No shit. Neither am I.
Willamette Week snagged the text messages in question between Lt. Jeff Niiya and Patriot Prayer ringleader Joey Gibson that presumably include exchanges like “Try not to mace us today, okay?” and “LOL I only use that shit on black people”.
Several texts involve Gibson’s longtime adjunct, Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, who often brawls with antifascist protesters, has allegedly assaulted people who were not protesting, and has been arrested multiple times in Portland.
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.”
Nothing to see here, I swear.
But according to a police spokeswoman, Niija’s behavior is standard operating procedure.
“In crowd management situations, it may not be safe or prudent to arrest a person right at that time, so the arrest may be delayed or followed up on later,” Lt. Tina Jones said. “It is not uncommon for officers to provide guidance for someone to turn themselves in on a warrant if the subject is not present.”
Also of particular note is this exchange, in which... well, see for yourself.
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 in an attempt to dissuade Gibson’s right-wing group from showing up.
I don’t think that’s the way “dissuading” someone works.
Why would Niiya intentionally tell Gibson where the Queer Liberation Front was protesting without a police presence? Feel free to draw your own conclusion.
“This story, like many that have come before it, simply confirms what many in the community have already known,” Councilwoman Jo Ann Hardesty said in a statement. “There are members of the Portland police force who work in collusion with right-wing extremists.”