Portland mayor reacts in horror when protester offers him a Pepsi

Here’s proof that easing the tension during a standoff with a public official isn’t as simple as handing them a Pepsi, as depicted in the company’s pulled commercial with Kendall Jenner: A Portland City Council meeting went into a brief panic on Wednesday when a protester approached the dias and attempted to hand Mayor Ted Wheeler a Pepsi, according to the Oregonian.

In the Pepsi commercial, Jenner offers a soda to a police officer during an apolitical rally, which for many critics appeared to be a metaphor for bridging the divide between Black Lives Matter protesters and police with a Pepsi peace offering.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that protesters have been disrupting Portland’s council meetings for months to bring attention to homelessness and the police-involved shooting death of 17-year-old Quanice Derrick Hayes in February. The protesting appeared to be useless to one speaker, however, who decided to take the Jenner approach and show Wheeler his resistance in the form of a Pepsi offering.

During the meeting, the protester, who identified himself as Carlos Enrique, spoke to the council members and Wheeler about the anger they typically receive from speakers and how it doesn’t seem to change Wheeler’s mind. Perhaps Wheeler just didn’t understand, Enrique posed. You can watch the exchange in the video below.

“The language of resistance has not been properly translated to you, so this is for you,” Enrique said, before standing up from his seat, walking toward the dias, and pulling out a Pepsi from his jacket for the mayor. He then took a few steps back, opened up another Pepsi from his jacket, tipped a toast, and took a sip.

The gesture, which appeared to be a tongue-in-cheek diss at both Pepsi and Wheeler, wasn’t taken as kindly as Jenner’s to the cop, however.

As Enrique approaches Wheeler in the meeting recording, several people can be heard cautioning, “Whoa,” as the mayor says with an alarmed voice, “Whoa whoa whoa whoa, not a good move, not a good move.” When he realizes Enrique is pulling out a Pepsi, he says, “Thank you. Don’t do that again, OK? Not a smart move… I do appreciate it, but don’t do that again.”

Wheeler then let out an anxious laugh as Commissioner Amanda Fritz says, “That was terrifying.”

Yes, it’s clear that it wasn’t the Pepsi that alarmed Wheeler, but the manner in which Enrique presented it, by reaching for his jacket pocket—which, if you really want to spin it, could appear to be a sign of prejudice that those in attendance assumed the man had bad intentions.

In reality, though, given the high tension of the meeting and the tone of the other protesters in the room—in addition to being told “This if for you,” then having a stranger reach for a concealed object—the mayor’s concern is more than understandable.

A phone call to the mayor’s office was directed to Mayor Wheeler’s communications director, Michael Cox, who did not immediately reply to the Daily Dot for comment.

After Enrique opens his soda in the video, one man is seen ushering him away from the dias while another removes the Pepsi sitting in front of Wheeler. Perhaps Pepsi isn’t as great an equalizer as the company thought it was.

H/T The Oregonion

Samantha Grasso

Samantha Grasso

Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.