Portland Police Association President: Why won’t elected officials condemn the riots, burning and violence?

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PORTLAND, OR – The riots in Portland, much like in other big cities across the nation, have gotten completely out of control.

Nightly, we see the updates from the Portland Police Bureau on Twitter saying that the “assembly” in now unlawful. They spell out exactly what these rioters are doing in their tweets- for example, throwing projectiles and bottles of urine at officers, starting fires, vandalizing and looting.

On social media, police higher-ups are tweeting that the gathering is being considered an unlawful assembly and telling people they need to leave. They’re announcing the same on loud speakers in the streets.

And yet, many nights, they seemingly do nothing about it when protesters linger and continue to terrorize the city.

Why is that? Well, like those other big cities, city officials have banned their police from being police. They simply stand by watching everything happen. Watching their beautiful city get destroyed.

Finally, after almost 40 nights of the lawlessness and destruction, the PPB union president, Daryl Turner, has had enough.

Turner, speaking for the Portland Police Association, issued a statement, which read, in part:

“As riots continue, it is obvious to everyone that this is no longer about George Floyd, social justice, or police reform.

“This is about a group of individuals intent on causing injury, chaos and destruction by rioting, looting, starting fires, throwing rocks, bottles, mortars, urine, and feces at peaceful protesters, as well as the police.” 

Turner also spoke of the need for elected officials to speak out against the lawlessness.

Turner continued:

“What angers me and the good people of Portland, even more, is that elected officials at the state and local levels are defending these criminal actions while in the same breath demonizing and vilifying the officers on the front lines protecting our communities, our safety, our livelihood, and our rights.

“Police are defending the property of business owners whose livelihoods are at stake while these criminals loot and burn their businesses. Police are defending government buildings that will be the meeting places where reforms at all levels of government will take place. Police are defending those who want to express their voices without violence.

“It is time for our elected officials to stand up and defend Portland. Condemn the violence and the burning, looting, and destruction of property.

“Trust and support the decisions made by law enforcement leaders who simply want to keep the residents, business owners, and peaceful protestors safe. Understand that it is a sign of strength, not weakness, to support the rank-and-file officers who are out on the front lines being assaulted, taking verbal and physical abuse, and working endless hours without rest.

Portland Police Officers have spent night after night out on the front lines, getting attacked both physically and verbally. Meanwhile, their politicians stand ready to condemn them for almost literally every action taken.

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From Governor Kate Brown to Mayor Ted Wheeler and even to city council members, police, to them, appear to be the devil incarnate.

Brown said that police response to the rioters have gone to far. This, after police used tear gas and arrested several protesters who refused to disperse. Again, this is following several warnings via loud speaker and social media (because we all know everyone there is live-tweeting just praying to see an officer cuss at them so they can be the next social media sensation).

Brown laid it on police to “deescalate” the riots, but apparently wants them to snuggle them to sleep while singing them lullabies to make that happen.

She said:

“Use of force, regardless of its legal justification, will do nothing to solve the underlying concerns of racial justice and police accountability raised by the protests.”

Perhaps not. But it sure does a hell of a lot to solve the underlying concerns of rioters completely destroying the city and making it unsafe for normal people to be out and about.

Brown also said:

“[A group has] repeatedly taken to the streets with the intent to destroy property. This group has repeatedly lit fires, thrown rocks, bottles, fireworks and other objects and have put the safety of others at risk.”

Even so, she wants them coddled into complacency:

“We can do better, we must do better, to heal the divisions in our community. We have a duty to keep the peace, not escalate confrontation.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Ted Wheeler is continuing his regularly scheduled program of pandering and calling for “a full and thorough review of all use of force tactics and meaningful public transparency.”

This was followed by:

“And I am asking for the public’s support in calling for an end to the nightly violence. Join us in our call for peace. Lives are at stake.”

Yes. Police lives are at stake as you continue to allow attacks on police to go unchecked and without consequences.

Following the use of tear gas against those who refused to disburse from an unlawful assembly, Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek sent a letter to Wheeler.

With all of her policing experience, she was able to determine that the “police actions did not seem warranted.”

In fact, she said:

“The actions by police officers last night in North Portland were completely unacceptable.

“Instead of managing the situation, they created an unsafe situation and a public health hazard with their use of CS gas, in a residential area (and near several gas stations, I might add). It was an unnecessary escalation by the PPB against people excercising their freedom of assembly and freedom of speech.

“It showed an utter inability to exercise restraint. Smart policing is when an officer can differentiate a minor provocation from a serious threat. Nothing about this was smart.
 
“As the Police Commissioner, I implore you to take action to keep this from happening again.
 

 
“From the reports I’ve read and from what I’ve heard from neighbors – counter to what the PPB is officially saying – there was no risk to the public or to officers until the PPB decided to declare an unlawful assembly to permit the use of and deploy crowd control devices.
 
What needed to be protected last night? An empty office building? Was this need more important than the health of neighbors, of children in a neighborhood, of people returning home from work?
 
The declaration of an “unlawful assembly” did not seem warranted. The declaration of a “riot” was an abuse of the statute. Therefore, the ensuing actions by the PPB were unlawful.
 
“What is the plan to keep peaceful protests from escalating into these kinds of incidents going forward? Protests will continue.
 
“Lastly, what I’ve heard is that when police presence is minimal and does not provoke a response from protesters, things are calmer and people disperse on their own. Deescalation starts with not escalating in the first place.”
 
It remains to be seen whether Turner’s words will resonate with anyone in the elected official realm, but based on their statements so far, we’re guessing not.

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