PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In an open letter the president of the Portland Police Association decried both the armed rioters and elected officials who are “demonizing and vilifying the officers on the front lines.”

Daryl Turner said the rioters “have drawn attention away from an important message about social and racial equity that needs to be heard.”

Read Daryl Turner’s full letter at the bottom of this article

“Their destructive and chaotic behavior defines the meaning of white privilege; their total disregard for people, property, and the law embodies entitlement,” he wrote.

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PPA President Daryl Turner, 2019 (KOIN, file)

But what angers him “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.”

Turner said this cannot continue and urged Portland leaders to do their jobs.

“Do not widen the divide between police and our communities, close it. Do not allow the meaningful dialogue and protests about racial and social equity to be drowned out by the sound of rioting and violence. Keep Portlanders safe and free from rioting, while honoring their First Amendment rights. … Tell those who are intent on burning and looting our great City that they are not welcome here.”

Last week, Turner penned a blistering letter to Oregon Speaker of the House Tina Kotek for criticizing police for their crowd control tactics earlier in the week.

Riots in 4 of past 6 nights

Protests escalated in and around downtown Portland most of the past week. Riots were declared, tear gas was used, dozens of people were arrested, property was damaged, fires were set, windows broken and officers injured.

These riots began after other peaceful protests throughout the city continued to press for social and racial justice spurred by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.

On Sunday, a few dozen people took to the streets and sidewalks outside the Justice Center Sunday afternoon, their “Back the Blue” signs and paper hearts standing in stark contrast to the graffiti and debris around them.

Within hours of the pro-police protests, most of the blue paper hearts with notes like “We love you” and “Keep fighting the good fight” had been ripped off the outer walls of the police building. A black-clad protester sprayed red paint over the pro-police messages a young girl had written in chalk on the sidewalk.

KOIN 6 News will have more information later in the day.