Man charged with threatening Wheeler over social media
As the City Council is preparing to discuss whether to pull the Portland police out of the FBI Portland Joint Terrorism Task Force, it is being credited with helping to indict a former city resident for using social media to threaten Mayor Ted Wheeler.
The Oregon U.S. Attorney's Office unsealed a one-count indictment in federal court on Wednesday charging Kermit Tyler Poulson, 39, with using Instagram to threaten to extort Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.
"Using social media to extort or threaten violence against any citizen is a crime. This conduct is unacceptable in any context and has no respectable place in public discourse. Threats of violence, both in person and on social media, are taken very seriously by federal law enforcement," said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, said of the indictment.
Poulson was arrested in Missoula, Montana on January 8, 2019 after visiting the Missoula Police Department to file a complaint on an unrelated matter. Missoula Police Department officers executed the arrest after locating Poulson's federal arrest warrant in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database. Poulson recently resided in Portland, but has no known permanent residence.
This case was investigated by the Portland Police Bureau and the JTTF, which includes FBI special agents and more than a dozen state and local law enforcement officers.
"Every day, the Portland JTTF's role is to assess, address and mitigate threats against the people of Oregon. If you become aware of someone threatening violence against others, we ask that you contact us right away so we can work with you to create a safe community for all," said Renn Cannon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon.
If convicted, Poulson faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
New Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty campaigned on a promise of pulling Portland out of the JTTF as her first official action. Commissioners Chloe Eudaly and Amanda Fritz have expressed a willingness to support the withdrawal, in part because the JTTF include representatives of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which enforces immigration laws.
No City Council vote on the issue has yet been set.