Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler confronted at restaurant, says woman ‘swatted’ at him

By Rebecca Ellis (OPB)
Jan. 7, 2021 3:49 p.m. Updated: Jan. 7, 2021 6:58 p.m.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler was swatted in the shoulder Wednesday evening while out to dinner at a restaurant in the Nob Hill neighborhood, according to the mayor’s office.

Wheeler was five minutes into a dinner at Cafe Nell with a friend when a small crowd began yelling obscenities at him and soon pushed their way into the outdoor tented area where he was seated, according to Jim Middaugh, the mayor’s communications director, who was briefed by the mayor on the incident.


Middaugh said a woman started swatting at the mayor after he asked them to leave. The mayor was not injured and does not plan to press charges.

Wheeler left the restaurant, taking his food to go.

Sergeant Kevin Allen, a spokesperson for the Portland Police Bureau, originally described the interaction as a “punch.” Allen said the assault occurred around 8:30 p.m. No injuries were reported and the suspect, who has not yet been identified, left, according to the police. No arrests were made.

Videos posted on social media Wednesday evening show a group yelling and cursing at Wheeler as he sat in an outdoor dining tent.

“You are going to be made to feel like the scum you are,” one yelled. “Fuck you, fuck you, shame on you.”


In another video, someone approaches and calls him out by his middle name: “We’re never going to forget you Tevis. Ever. I hope you enjoy your little wine.”

Wheeler tells his accosters they “need to grow up” and asks them to leave.

The assault the police reported was not captured in either clip.

During months of protests against police violence and for racial justice, anger has risen toward the mayor. Some protesters hold him responsible for the tear gas and use of force they experienced at the hands of the police at many demonstrations and the mayor is routinely yelled at and harassed as he moves around the city he was re-elected to lead in November.

Middaugh wrote in a statement the mayor is not deterred.

“The Mayor is committed to supporting local businesses and wants others to do the same,” wrote Middaugh in a statement. “Given the tenor of political discourse nationally and locally, it’s not unusual for people to confront the Mayor and other elected officials in public. It’s part of the job.”

Conrad Wilson contributed reporting.