Environment Magazine

Activists Suspect Ride Participant is an Undercover Portland Police Bureau Captain

Posted on the 02 April 2013 by Earth First! Newswire @efjournal

Sadly, but hilariously, this post is not an April Fools joke. This really just happened.

Update: It appears there is a doppelganger here. The PPD has denied that this is the undercover officer—a person who has the same first name, same glasses, and happens to be new in town, uninterested in meetings, wears provocateur-like nike shirts and obsessively videotapes protests.

Activists suspect ride participant is an undercover Portland Police Bureau captain
Participants in the Veloprovo launch ride Sunday believe the man in the yellow shirt in the back left is Portland Police Bureau Cpt. Chris Uehara.
(Photos: Nicholas Caleb)

Cross Posted from Bike Portland

Participants in an organized bike ride this weekend say they were accompanied by an undercover Portland Police Captain named Chris Uehara. Photos of who they suspect to be Cpt. Uehara attending the “Veloprovo” launch ride on Sunday surfaced on Facebook this morning. In the photos a man wearing a yellow t-shirt, fitness pants and bike-specific shoes can be clearly seen standing next to a road bike, listening to speakers before the ride, and raising his fist in a group photo.

Activists suspect ride participant is an undercover Portland Police Bureau captain

The same man appears in a photo of the Tar Sands protest ride last month which was organized by the same group of activists. The group behind these rides has ties to the PDX Bike Swarm that coalesced during Occupy Portland. As we’ve been reporting, the group does not hide the fact that their brand of advocacy is more radical and aggressive than anything that currently exists in Portland.

Activists suspect ride participant is an undercover Portland Police Bureau captain
Photo from Tar Sands protest ride shows same man who was at the Veloprovo ride and whom participants think is Cpt. Chris Uehara.

The man in these photos appears to be the same man wearing a PPB uniform and identified as Cpt. Chris Uehara in a Portland Public Schools video from September 2012.Tracy Mattner was on the Veloprovo ride Sunday. She spoke to the man and is sure it’s Cpt. Uehara. “I spoke to Officer Uehara, who identified himself by his real first name, Chris.” she shared via email today. “He did not identify himself as an officer, but claimed to be a bicycle activist and enthusiast. When I asked how he heard about the event, he simply said he was at the “Tar Sands Ride.” Later, during group introductions, he stated that he had sold his car to buy the brand new bike he was riding.”

Another person on the ride, Nicholas Caleb, says having an undercover officer on the ride is a sign that we live in a “police state.” Caleb says the group has publicized everything they’ve done, held public meetings, videotaped their speeches, and so on. “You’d think when you do that, there’s no way you’d be the target of police surveillance.” “It’s scary,” he added, “But, we’re going to keep going forward with our positive ideas and creative energy.”

Caleb said the man he suspects of being Cpt. Uehara was suspicious because he had all brand new “stereotypical biker gear,” didn’t speak with anyone and was filming everything.

[Newswire Mod. note: Cpt. Uehara is also linked to the FBI via gang investigations in Portland, which confirms an earlier EF!N post about the FBI working with local police depts and private security professionals to investigate environmentalist ties to drug trafficking.]


It’s worth remembering that the Portland Police has a history of secretly monitoring bicycle-based activism. According to research by documentary filmmaker and publisher Joe Biel, the Portland Police Bureau once labeled critical mass participants as “anarchists” and sent undercover officers to critical mass meetings and rides. During research for his book, Bi Pedal, By Pedal! and his documentary film, Aftermass: A post-Critical Mass Portland, Biel unearthed police documents that proved this to be the case. The PPB not only attended critical mass meetings and rides, but Biel asserts they also created false narratives by embellishing reports and even instigated hostile actions during the ride.

Reached today for comment about this recently alleged undercover action, Biel said, “I think the very nature of activities that push a change in culture threaten police training to the very core and demonstrate that the institution of policing exists to protect the status quo until political will is ready to push it over the brim.”

Last year Mayor Charlie Hales (interviewed prior to being elected) told Biel during an interview that he opposed the police presence at Critical Mass. “What I was concerned about was the fact that the police thought this was even a big deal at all,” said Hales, “I thought, hey, these are just some people riding bikes… why don’t we just leave these folks alone?”

I’ve contacted the PPB asking for comment. They are looking into it and I hope to hear back soon.

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