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Regional Interests

Man Approaches Mayor Wheeler At City Council Meeting, Hands Him A Pepsi

<p>A young man testified Wednesday before handing Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler a can of Pepsi.</p>
<p>A young man testified Wednesday before handing Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler a can of Pepsi.</p>

A young man rushed up to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler during a city council Wednesday, reached into his coat pocket, and handed him a can of Pepsi.

"Woah, woah, not a good move, not a smart move. Don't do that again," Wheeler said as he took the can, and shook his head, laughing uncomfortably.

The moment, an apparent criticism of the mayor's handling of protests against a police shooting and a reference to a controversial Pepsi ad starring Kendall Jenner, appeared to spook the mayor and council but deescalated quickly.

The man identified himself as a former journalist with the Boston Herald, a claim the newspaper disputes.

Over the past several months, protesters have disrupted council meetings to call attention to the plight of homeless people and to the death of a black teenager shot by Portland police.

They have at times yelled profanity and slurs, jeered at city hall employees, and camped outside Wheeler's home, allegedly slashing his tires.

The Pepsi ad, which the soda company has since pulled, featured protesters marching through the streets and Jenner handing a Pepsi to a police officer, who accepts it.

Wednesday's Portland City Council meeting was comparatively quiet to other recent meetings, until the Pepsi incident.

The man, who gave his name as Carlos Henriquez or Enriquez, had signed up to testify on a city ordinance on towing derelict boats.

"I'm a former journalist for the Boston Herald, so I've covered City Council quite extensively," he said.

"I've just recently moved here and I have to say, I'm very surprised at how there's so many people who show up to City Council and get angry at you and yell out you," the man said.

After a minute, Wheeler interrupted him, telling him his testimony needed to be related to the towing ordinance.

Instead, the man stood up and began walking toward the mayor. (See 2:51:00 in the video below.)

"What I realized is that the language of resistance has not been properly translated to you, so this is for you," the man said, reaching into his coat and plucking out the Pepsi can, as the council watched with alarm.

Security guards stepped in, scooping up the Pepsi and escorting the protester out.

"That was terrifying," Commissioner Amanda Fritz said softly to her colleagues.

The Human Resources Department at the Boston Herald said it had no record of a journalist on staff with that name.

A man named Carlos Henriquez had once worked in the paper's marketing and research department, starting in 2003. He left the paper more than 10 years ago.

That Carlos Henriquez would be 43 years old today, according to the newspaper's personnel records, significantly older than the protester in Portland appeared to be.

Wheeler is in the process of hiring a private firm to develop a new security master plan for city buildings and properties.

Copyright 2017 Oregon Public Broadcasting