Portland mayor Ted Wheeler was leaving McMenamins Hillsdale Brewery & Public House with former mayor Sam Adams Sunday night when a middle-aged white man approached them. Speaking to Wheeler, he accused them of sitting too close together while dining. After a bit of back and forth, Wheeler pepper sprayed him.
According to a recording you can listen to at Willamette Week (who obtained it from Sam Adams):
In it, the unknown man confronts Wheeler and Adams about meeting at a restaurant during a pandemic.
"Excuse me," Wheeler says, "apparently you don't know the rules." He says two people can dine together if they are 6 feet apart.
"You weren't 6 feet apart from Mr. Adams over there," the man replies.
"Yeah, we were," interjects Adams.
The audio is then interrupted with rustling noises, apparently because Adams is walking. The last thing the man says before Wheeler deploys pepper spray appears to be: "Thanks for ruining our city," although the last word is garbled.
"You just pepper-sprayed me," the man then says.
"You are 1 foot away from me," Wheeler replies. "You are not 6 feet away."
"Oh my God," says the man, seemingly reacting to the spray. "Wow."
Adams suggests Wheeler leave. "All right, Mr. Mayor, get on the road."
The man Wheeler sprayed also appears to be recording the altercation, because he narrates what happened as if to an audience. "You just pepper-sprayed me, for no reason, at all," he says.
"Actually," Adams replies, as Wheeler's car engine starts, "I was here and you were like a foot from him. He asked you to back away and you didn't."
The man continues narrating. "I can't see," he says, "but the mayor has just thrown something at me."
The object thrown was a bottle of water to help the man flush the pepper spray from his eyes.
It's hard to tell from the recording just how aggressive the man was and whether he deserved the pepper spray or not, but according to The Washington Post:
Wheeler told police he feared the maskless man could infect him with the coronavirus, adding that he was also concerned for his personal safety following the incident where a woman allegedly smacked him in a restaurant earlier this month.
Here's a video of Mayor Wheeler, taken before the pepper spray incident, on how he feels about public altercations: