Right-wing leader and Portland police officers reached an agreement to prevent the arrest of members of the Patriot Prayer group, although officers have probable reasons to do so, according to a video clip obtained by the Guardian.
The video, taken from the livestream of Patriot Prayer group boss Joey Gibson, shows a violent protest in Portland on June 3, 2018. In it, officers from the Portland Police Office announced that the deal had was authorized by Lieutenant Jeff Niiya, then commander of the rapid reaction of the PPB. the team, which has recently been criticized for its overly friendly relations with Gibson.
Patriot Prayer's beliefs are not overtly white supremacy, but critics say his demonstrations and rallies attract racist elements and he is often involved in violent clashes.
The video excerpt shows two police officers approaching Gibson by the end of the day. An officer said, "I just talked to Jeff Niiya and he asked me to tell you that he had a probable cause to stop two or three guys here."
"They stopped the other side, so it's not that you choose," the officer added.
"But it's time to go," said the officer. "If you can go home, there will be no arrest."
After Gibson asked who the officers were going to stop, the officer replied, "Do you want me to tell you? These guys. Gibson's camera then turns to where Tusitala "Tiny" Toese and another man are sitting, wearing Patriot Prayer t-shirts.
Toese was not among the four arrests announced by the Portland police following the rally, which had seen him fight with counter-protesters in the downtown streets.
Zakir Khan, spokesman for the Oregon chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said: "I am troubled to see such a highly discretionary and arbitrary maintenance of order".
"There is no doubt that when officers have this latitude in a historically racist city and state, this latitude will lead to biased results. Color Portlandians have been victims of this system for decades before these recent events, "said Khan.
When asked about the video, PPB spokesperson Lieutenant Kristina Jones said in an email, "There is an open investigation, so I can not comment on outstanding staffing issues. I have forwarded the video to our investigators for review. "
Earlier this month, Niiya pulled out in a scandal, as explosive texts between him and Gibson are under an independent investigation by Mayor Ted Wheeler.
Niiya has been widely criticized for his overly friendly attitude towards Gibson in text exchanges. In an exchange in December 2017, he told Gibson that PPB would not stop Toese, despite the existence of a warrant.
"Just make sure that it does not do anything that can catch our attention," Niiya writes. "If he still has the warrant in the system (I do not direct you, so I do not know personally), the agents could stop him. I do not see the need to stop on the warrant unless there is a reason. "
In this exchange, he also said the officers had previously ignored Toese's warrants.
Gibson confirmed the June 3 conversation, but defended the methods of keeping the order of Niiya, who, he told the Guardian, were "consistent with all the officers with whom I was been in communication with the whole country ".
"He is always respectful. His main concern is de-escalation, that's what he's talking about all the time. "
"There are several text messages where he begs me to leave Portland," he added.
Gibson's remarks resembled the Niiya defense made by the Portland Police Association.
Just five days after the June 3 rally, Toese and another proud boy, Donovan Flippo, also present at the Patriot Prayer rallies, reportedly attacked a man in Portland. Last Wednesday, they were indicted by a grand jury for this incident.
Asked about the indictment in a Facebook message, Toese wrote, "I'm going to court and defend my innocence."
Niiya's writings have prompted further criticism of the city's ability to handle repeated demonstrations by the far-right group, as well as allegations of bias by the police.
A "listening session" convened on February 21 to discuss the Niiya texts to the public has been dominated by strong criticism of the SCH.