This was probably unavoidable. It was also super uncomfortable.
Toward the end of this morning's City Council meeting, as the body was taking up an ordinance that would allow Portland Parks and Recreation to more easily tow boats left on city docks, a man rushed Ted Wheeler and handed him a Pepsi.
The man identified himself as Carlos Enrique (spelling unclear), and said he was a former journalist for the Boston Herald (the Herald says he's not, according to OPB, which isn't much of a surprise). He described being new to town, and struck by the abuse that city council members face.
"I'm very surprised how there's so many people who show up to city council and just kind of like get angry at you and yell at you and stuff like that," he said. "It made me kind of wonder how could someone just endure people coming and berating you every week.... What I realized is that the language of resistance has not been properly translated to you. So this is for you."
In a tense moment, Enrique got up, approached Wheeler, reached into his black jacket, and pulled out a Pepsi. Council members appeared thoroughly freaked out—even after the joke became apparent.
"Whoa whoa whoa, not a good move," said Wheeler, who eventually laughed when he realized what had happened. "Don't do that again. Not a smart move. I do appreciate it but don't do that again. For your own safety don't do that... If this were the Boston City Council that would have ended differently."
Here's the video.
Safety and order, of course, have been a theme at City Council of late. Security guards now check people's bags before they come into meetings, and last week Wheeler's office even printed out tickets people were handed to attend. Prior to the Pepsi incident, the meeting had been largely free of disruption (though not without tributes to Quanice Hayes, the 17-year-old killed by Portland police in February).
There's no way you don't get what Enrique was up to at this point, but just in case, here's yesterday's infamous Pepsi ad, featuring Kendall Jenner spontaneously joining a cheesy fake protest and handing an officer a soda. Wheeler is the city's police commissioner, and has taken the brunt of citizen anger for the Portland Police Bureau's forceful response to protests lately.