A man riffing on Pepsi’s controversial commercial with Kendall Jenner pulled a can of the soda out of his pocket during a Portland, Ore., city council meeting on Wednesday and handed it to the mayor.
But the move was so sudden that Mayor Ted Wheeler panicked. Security guards rushed the man.
“That was scary,” one city commissioner said.
The incident comes during tense times in Portland, where the Feb. 9 police shooting of a black teenager triggered days of protests. It can be seen in the city’s video of Wednesday’s meeting.
Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that the man appeared to be criticizing the mayor’s handling of those protests while also referencing the controversial Pepsi ad.
The man, who identified himself as Carlos Enrique, signed up to give testimony during a discussion about towing boats left on city docks. But that was a ruse.
Sitting at a table in front of the council, Enrique identified himself as a former journalist with the Boston Herald — he reportedly is not — and said he had just moved to Portland.
He launched into a rambling statement about how people show up at city council meetings and “get angry at you and yell at you and stuff like that.
“And I’m sure that has happened before in the past ... and it made me kind of wonder, like, how could someone just endure people coming and berating you every week and everyone gets mad and you say, you say ... I’m signing the ordinance anyway. And what I realized ...”
At that point Wheeler interrupted to remind him to stick to the topic at hand, but Enrique raised his voice and talked over him.
“The language of resistance has not been properly translated to you. So this is for you,” he said as he stood up and started walking toward the mayor.
As he put his hand in his pocket Wheeler shouted: “Uh, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Not a good move, not a good move.”
As someone else in the room shouted “whoa,” Enrique pulled a can of Pepsi out of his pocket and handed it to Wheeler.
“Thank you,” the mayor said, warning “don’t do that again, not a smart move.” Enrique pulled a second can of Pepsi from his pocket and popped it open as two men rushed him.
The mayor laughed rather nervously as a man, possibly a staff member, took the can away from him.
“Please, folks, do not do that,” Wheeler told the people in the room. “For your own safety, don’t do that, OK? I appreciate it.
“Welcome to Portland. If this were the Boston city council that would have ended differently.”
Protesters have targeted Wheeler and Portland’s city hall, which the alt weekly Willamette Week described as under “weekly siege,” after the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Quanice Hayes.
A grand jury in March concluded there was no criminal wrongdoing on the part of the officer who fired the fatal shot.
Protesters disrupted council meetings, yelled at city hall employees and camped outside Wheeler’s home, allegedly slicing his tires, according to local media. Wheeler enacted tighter security measures at city hall because of the protests, according to CBS News.
Wednesday’s meeting had been comparatively quiet compared to recent ones until the Pepsi stunt.
In the Pepsi ad, Jenner is shown leaving a photo shoot to join a group of good-looking young protesters who cheer when she hands a can of Pepsi to a police officer at the demonstration. The commercial was widely scorned for trivializing and glamorizing protests for social justice causes.
“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding,” the company said Wednesday in a statement announcing that it had yanked the ad. “Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize.”