The mayor of Portland, Oregon, sprayed a man with peppers in front of a restaurant on Sunday night after the mayor said the man had faced him about mask rules and other issues and then got uncomfortably close, according to a police report.
Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat in the police force, said, “I made it clear to him that I needed to back off” before I sprayed him in the eye, according to an incident published by the police.
Wheeler told police he left the pub around 8 p.m., when the man was filming on the phone, accusing the mayor of not wearing a mask while sitting in the restaurant because of Covid-19 rules and other issues.
Wheeler said he told the man that he was sitting in a tent area and that according to the rules of the coronavirus, police reported that someone could take off their mask while eating or drinking.
The man, who was not in a mask, followed Wheeler to his car and “got within a foot or two of my face while videoing,” the report quoted Wheeler as speaking.
“I immediately started to worry about my personal safety because I was physically taken on in a similar situation recently,” the mayor said in a report. Wheeler also said he was afraid of catching the Covid-19.
A spokesman for the mayor said Wheeler is fully cooperating with the police. At the time, Sam Adams was with a former mayor of Portland who is witnessed in the report.
“Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has filed a police complaint over an incident that has occurred. The mayor is cooperating with the police investigation and encouraging other stakeholders to do the same,” said Jim Middaugh, director of communications at Wheeler.
Police reported the man sprayed with the peppers could not be identified and Wheeler said he did not recognize him. The man was described as a middle-aged white man.
Portland was disturbed by protests last year, and some have called for Wheeler to resign to handle protests that sometimes involve violent clashes.
Wheeler won re-election in November. According to the election record, he beat the challenger, Sarah Iannarone, from 46.07% to 40.76%. There were also applicants to register.
Earlier this month, the mayor said he started having dinner with a friend when a group yelled at him with defamation, then the group entered the tent area and someone started “slapping” on it, NBC affiliated KGW reported.
The man Wheeler peppered on Sunday looked surprised, the mayor told police according to the incident report.
“He made a remark like,‘ I can’t believe you just sprinkled with pepper, ’” Wheeler quotes a report he told police.
Wheeler said when he left, he threw a bottle of water at the man so he could wash his eyes, then left and contacted his chief of staff. According to the report, a city official contacted police and Wheeler called police and made a statement by phone and email.