<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=192888919167017&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Tuesday,  June 25 , 2024

Linkedin Pinterest
News / Northwest

Portland police officer shared doubts about Joey Gibson’s promises to be peaceful at protests

By Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian
Published: June 20, 2019, 11:58am

PORTLAND — The Portland police lieutenant under investigation for his friendly text and email exchanges with right-wing protest leader Joey Gibson at one point told his supervisors that he had started to doubt Gibson’s promises to remain peaceful.

Lt. Jeff Niiya shared his concerns as the Police Bureau was preparing for competing rallies planned for Dec. 23, 2017 — Gibson’s March for Jesus event and Direct Action Alliance’s community feed and clothing drive.

“I am losing stock in Joey’s word as he get (sic) wrapped up in the crowd mentality and also cannot control those who attend,” Niiya wrote to supervisors in a memo six days before the two events.

Niiya told his supervisors that Gibson billed the march as a family-friendly gathering and asked if police could notify him when anti-fascist counter-demonstrators were about to arrive so Gibson’s Patriot Prayer group could try to avoid them.

The memo was included in about 500 pages of emails released late Wednesday by the Police Bureau in response to a public records request made in February seeking Niiya’s communications as the bureau’s crowd control liaison.

The emails show Niiya contributing to police security plans for a wide range of events — from a visit by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to a protest of federal lawmakers’ net neutrality vote to the mayor’s concerns about demonstrators showing up on the doorstep of his home. The emails also reveal how closely police monitor what law enforcement agencies outside Oregon experience in their cities.

Niiya now holds a different job in the Police Bureau while an internal investigation continues into his lengthy exchanges with Gibson and an outside firm looks into whether the bureau’s handling of city protests has favored one group above another.

In February, the public disclosure of an earlier cache of hundreds of emails and text messages between Gibson and Niiya from 2017 and 2018, ignited a firestorm, with critics decrying them as evidence of their long-standing fears that police have colluded with ultra-conservative demonstrators and targeted leftist opponents.

The hundreds of pages of emails released Wednesday night reveal Niiya’s and police supervisors’ planning steps and intelligence gathering for city demonstrations in 2017.

For the dueling events on Dec. 23, 2017, Niiya concluded his memo by reminding supervisors that “history tells us these two groups have the propensity to become violent and aggressive with each other.”

He recommended two potential police responses: Don’t staff the events, but if a confrontation occurs and police are called, patrol officers can respond. Or have some Rapid Response Teams available that day to respond. The bureau decided to have two Rapid Response Teams on standby that day.

On that day, Niiya did end up texting Gibson that counter-protesters were moving toward his group, writing, “Heads up just told 4-5 black Bloch heading your way. One carrying a flag. We will have officers nearby but you may want think about moving soon if more come.”

Morning Briefing Newsletter envelope icon
Get a rundown of the latest local and regional news every Mon-Fri morning.

In other emails, Niiya expressed concerns about the safety of a left-wing protester, June Davies, who was outed by other activists for sharing information with Niiya. Some accused Davies, known as “Gia,” of being an informant for the police.

Their text exchanges spanned months, often discussing police presence at protests, how activists might respond and Davies inquiring if certain people had been arrested during marches, with Niiya providing what information he could.

In October 2017, police received an email from “traitoramongus@riseup.net,” which said, “RCA and PNWAFWC are aware you have had conversations with Tan/June they are likely to socially, economically or physically hurt her in retaliation. Would Portland Police like to know who are the top people of Rose City Antifa and Pacific Northwest Anti-Fascist Workers Collective? What could Portland Police do with that kind of information? It is the leadership that calls shots and often sits back from the frontlines making decisions and telling younger activists who you arrest what to do and getting them into trouble they might not have done on their own and without the peer pressure.”

In response, Niiya wrote:

From: Niiya, Jeffrey

Subject: RE: Tan/June

To: traitoramongus@riseup.net

Sent: October 21, 2017 5:58 PM

I apologize for taking so long to respond back as I have been trying to process

what has occurred. I am very concerned for June’s welfare after learning some in the community have taken offense to our communications. I hope people can see in the messages she tried helping those protesting be safe by making requests of us and gathering information from me as well.

My role as a liaison to multiple people and groups has the intentions to allow people to have their first amendment rights while be considerate of everyone’s safety.

In response to your questions, we are always interested if individuals are committing crimes, asking others to commit crimes, or placing people’s safety into question. In the case of June, if she is in danger because someone has asked others to harm her we would like to know this and understand why.

If you have any information on June’s well-being I would like to know she is ok. I would hate to see someone get hurt or self-harm over some protests or these political issues.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

The correspondences released late Wednesday also revealed that Niiya fielded emails from different interest groups, including a business owner getting harassed online because she asked for more police presence in Northwest Portland to a rabbi offering police ways to help “change the narrative of police collusion” with white nationalist groups.

Shared among police working on crowd control was a redacted “ANTIFA Tactics” memo, from the San Francisco Fusion Center and sent to Portland police by the Oregon Department of Justice. Police also distributed an advisory bulletin from the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center titled “Violent Tactics Showcased at Berkeley Riots Likely To Be Used at Future Demonstrations.”

In preparation for Nov. 4, 2017, protests marking the one-year anniversary of the presidential election and a “Refuse Fascism” event, a Portland officer wrote an email to Niiya and other police supervisors that Mayor Ted Wheeler was concerned about protesters coming to his home.

“I recommended that the mayor’s family go to the vacation home for that weekend so that we do not have to deal with that variable. They agreed … but the mayor will most likely stay in pdx, ” Officer Darke Hull wrote on Sept,. 26, 2017.

Wednesday’s release of documents represents just a part of the requested correspondences. The bureau is expected to release additional material in the future.