Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler blasted an unmasked man with pepper spray after he accosted him and former mayor Sam Adams with a video camera on Sunday night, police said.
The two officials had just finished dinner at the McMenamins Hillsdale Brewery & Public House on Southwest Sunset Boulevard around 8 p.m. when a man described as middle-aged accused Wheeler of dining without a mask, according to a Portland Police Bureau report filed on Monday.
The mayor defended his actions, saying in the statement that he was in a tented area of the restaurant and that Covid-19 regulations allow people to take their masks off to eat.
Sgt. Peter Simpson, who authored the report, said that after receiving a call from Wheeler’s adviser on public safety Robert King, the mayor himself called and emailed him. He added that Wheeler had confirmed Adams had been dining with him.
“He followed me to my car while continuing to video.. I attempted to get closer to my car and get into it. He came closer,” Wheeler said, according to the police report. “He had no face mask on and got within a foot or two of my face while he was videoing me. I became imminently concerned for my personal safety.”
“I clearly informed him that he needed to back off. He did not do so I informed him that I was carrying pepper spray and that I would use it if he did not back off. He remained at close distance, I pulled out my pepper spray and I sprayed him in the eyes,” the mayor added.
In the report, Simpson said Wheeler did not recognize the man, but described him to be in his forties, shorter than 6-foot tall, medium build, wearing a dark-colored, heavy jacket, and possibly wearing glasses.
The incident comes hours after an individual was taken into custody in Portland on Monday afternoon after allegedly driving into several vehicles and pedestrians over a 20-block stretch of road in the southeast of the city. One person died and five were injured in the crash, police said.
There has been mounting unrest in Portland over the last few months, with some of it aimed at Wheeler. On January 7, Wheeler was punched by anti-government protesters when he was out in the city having dinner. Wheeler has expressed a desire to enforce stricter penalties on repeat offenders who commit violent acts and vandalize property.
Last summer, riots hit the city for more than 100 nights in a row as Black Lives Matter protesters clashed with police over the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by law enforcement in Minneapolis last May.