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Wheeler: PPB texts ‘confirm people’s worst fears’

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said a series of text messages between a Portland Police Bureau officer and Patriot Prayer “confirm people’s worse fears.” 

The mayor spoke out on Friday, just hours after the PPB released hundreds of pages of text and email documents between Lt. Jeff Niiya, the former head of the PPB’s Rapid Response Team, and Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson. 

The messages at times appear to provide tactical information to Gibson before and during his group’s violent clashes with Antifa in downtown Portland. They also seem to show that police ignored arrest warrants for some of Gibson’s followers. 

“The reality is that these text messages confirm people’s worst fears,” said Wheeler. “They show definitely at a minimum a warm relationship between some of our police bureau members and some people in those movements and at worse a sense of favoritism.”

Watch Wheeler and Hardesty respond to the PPB texts, emails

Niiya ‘reassigned’

Meanwhile, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty is calling for a full independent investigation not conducted by the PPB. Wheeler later agreed to the request, saying that he “will order an independent investigation to review the existence of bias in the actions of the PPB leading up to and during demonstrations involving alt-right and anti-fascist protesters.” 

The mayor added that he would work with PPB Chief Danielle Outlaw to implement training for the bureau “around how to identify white supremacy per the recommendation of the Oregon Justice Resource Center, Council on American-Islamic Relations Oregon and the Western States Center.” 

Wheeler also told KOIN 6 News that Niiya has been reassigned.

A public meeting is set to take place Feb. 21 at the Maranatha Church. 

KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story. 

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