In an open letter, Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner called out the rioters for taking "attention away from an important message about social and racial equality that needs to be heard.”
He called the rioters’ behavior “destructive and chaotic" and said it defined the meaning of “white privilege.” Turner, a black man, added that “their total disregard for people, property, and the law embodies entitlement.”
Turner also took the opportunity to criticize elected officials in the city, who he said were defending the criminal actions of the rioters while “demonizing and vilifying” the officers who were out there on the front lines protecting everyone. He said he has no confidence that the city council is going to stand up for the city and stop the rioting and looting.
He asked elected officials to do their jobs and close the divide between police and communities there.
The situation has been growing worse in Portland. Authorities recently stated that businesses in an around Portland have incurred $23 million in damages and lost business after weeks of daily violent protests. In a virtual news briefing, Portland Deputy Police Chief Chris Davis said that now, six weeks into the riots, those who walk downtown will be greeted by countless boarded-up windows and public property damage. So far, more than 100 people have been injured.
Davis also distinguished between peaceful demonstrations against police brutality by protesters associated with Black Lives Matter and agitators who he says are hijacking the message of the group and using it as a cover for their criminal activity.
Turner's letter followed a week of increasing riots in and around the city. Although much of this began as peaceful protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd in late May, they have evolved into violent riots involving fires, damage to property and injured officers.
Earlier this week, federal officials announced that seven people who were arrested in nighttime riots in the city will be facing charges connected to assaulting federal officers, along with defacing the Hatfield Federal Courthouse.
On Thursday, Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell spoke out about the challenges the police are facing due to the ongoing nightly protests. He said the bureau's resources are being stretched too thin. He added that the violence that was seen in North Portland last week cost the city more than $6.2 million in overtime for police officers.
Speaking to the media, Portland Police Officer Jakhary Jackson, who is black, labeled the hypocrisy he's been seeing from protesters “disgusting,” saying that that officers are being called racist even as they are helping black people and trying to save the lives of people who have been shot.
Since July 1, the Portland police report that there have been 29 shootings in the city, which is far more than the eight that were noted during the same period of time last year. Investigating the shootings has become more challenging now that the department has had to dissolve its Gun Violence Reduction Team due to budget cuts.
How can people continue to call for defunding the police when officers are already struggling to keep violence under control in cities like Portland thanks to budget cuts? Police officers are putting their lives on the line every day, often without proper equipment, to keep people and cities safe, and there’s no telling how violent our streets could become if their budgets are cut even further.
Sources for this article include: