Man says theft of mayor's portrait was 'civil disobedience'
A local activist who posted a video showing him walking out of City Hall with the city's official photograph of disgraced former Mayor Neil Goldschmidt, said he did it as an act of civil disobedience.
Jeff Thomas Black told KOIN 6 News reporter Lisa Balick that he was "appalled" to see Goldschmidt's portrait still hanging in an unlocked foyer leading to the mayor's office. Black told Balick that several people have asked the city to remove the portrait because the former mayor admitted sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl in the early 1970s.
"I was appalled and shocked to see his face up there, and I made a note that something would happen someday," said Black, who had been planning the heist for months. "It is indefensible. I dare the city to prosecute me. This was a deliberate act of civil disobedience. It was breaking the law."
Black posted a video Wednesday, March 27, as he narrated the snatch-and-run from Mayor Ted Wheeler's downtown offices inside City Hall. Goldschmidt's portrait hung alongside almost all of Portland's other 53 mayors.
"I just got away with it," Black said as he left the building with the picture in his hand. "I thought I was getting arrested today, and I'm not, I don't think.
"That was pretty funny."
Goldschmidt was mayor from 1973 to 1979. He was tapped by the Carter Administration in September 1979 to be U.S. transportation secretary, a position he held until January 1981. Goldschmidt was Oregon's governor from 1987 to 1991. In 2004, he fell from grace after admitting to abusing the girl during his first term as mayor.
Goldschmidt avoided rape charges because the statute of limitations had already expired by the time his crimes were exposed.
Black, who tweets under the name @LRBitisnot, lists himself as a strategist and writer on civil rights issues.
The video was first reported by The Oregonian. It begins with Black filming a City Council meeting, then leaving the meeting room and complaining about Wheeler's tone regarding recent police shootings.
A police spokeswoman confirms the bureau received a report of the theft around 11:11 a.m. on Wednesday.
"This is an open investigation and pertains to the theft of a photograph from the mayor's office yesterday," said Lt. Tina Jones. "We are aware of the video posted to social media."
This story has been updated.
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