Mayor Ted Wheeler was dining out at Cafe Nell’s patio last night when he was approached and taunted by left-leaning protesters. In cell phone footage released on Twitter, a small group of Portlanders approached the mayor while he was finishing dining at the New American restaurant in Nob Hill; one individual, whose face does not appear on screen, seemed to take the lead, repeatedly cursing at the mayor and addressing him by his middle name Tevis. The protester accused him of failing at his mayoral work and criticized him for the continuing sweeps of tent encampments. “I think you need to do your job as a fucking mayor. I think you’re a disgrace,” he replies after Wheeler says that he thinks the group should leave. “How dare you do sweeps when people are still on the streets.”
Multiple videos, one a bit over a minute and others between five and 15 seconds long, show a heated interaction, as the protestors continued to share their displeasure with the city’s recent sweep of houseless camps. Eventually the group was escorted out of the patio tent, while Wheeler was filming on his own phone. During most of the encounter on film, Wheeler is quiet.
"You comfortable, Tevis?"— All-Time Blocks Leader (@MacSmiff) January 7, 2021
Watch how Ted tries to age-check the unhappy citizen.
This is how the mayor of Portland gets treated when he leaves his hidey-holes. pic.twitter.com/8IJASJ35Ge
Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that the situation escalated and that the Portland Police Bureau alleged that one of the individuals punched the mayor in the shoulder; the alleged assault was not captured, or at least not shared on social media.
This is the second time this week that the mayor’s dining experience was disturbed — a clip was posted January 2 of another group confronting the mayor while he was dining in a patio tent, though it’s unclear exactly where. This group was more reserved, and captions on the video show that they were confronting Wheeler on his police force’s unrestrained use of teargas during this summer’s protests over racial inequality.
The protesters are some of many who have been frustrated with Wheeler on a number of counts, many related to his role as police commissioner: continued sweeps of tent encampments when many are financially struggling during the pandemic, for instance, as well as the police’s deployment of tear gas and rubber bullets during protests against police brutality and racist violence last year.
While some of the tweets report that the mayor called the police on the individuals involved, it’s unlikely that he will have the luxury of undisturbed public dining in the foreseeable future. As one protester threatened, “You think that we’re going to forget about you? We’re never going to forget you, Tevis. Ever. Ever. I hope you enjoyed your little wine... you’re fucked, Tevis.”
Mayor Ted Wheeler and Cafe Nell have not responded to requests for comment.
• Video of January 6 interaction [Twitter]
• Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler confronted at restaurant, says woman ‘swatted’ at him [OPB]
• Activists Rally to Keep City Workers From Clearing a Laurelhurst Homeless Camp [Merc]
• Mayor Wheeler to maintain role as Portland police commissioner in 2021 [KGW]