PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — “I am disgusted that our City has come to this. If it is acceptable for rioters to commit acts of violence against community members and to try and burn down occupied buildings, and if this conduct is allowed to continue, then Portland is lost.”
-Those were some of the words released Friday in a scathing letter from Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner to Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt.
Turner’s letter fervently denounced the week’s events outside the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct in Southeast Portland. Officers declared a riot at the location on Wednesday night after a group of people dressed in black marched from Floyd Light Park to the precinct, where they lit fires next to the building, tried to break the front doors and set up barricades at the doors and in the streets.
The following night unfolded in a similar manner, with a group of about 200 people dressed in black marching to the precinct, lighting fires, throwing paint on security cameras, tagging the plywood covering the damaged doors to the precinct and throwing rebar ties into the streets to damage police vehicles.
A KOIN 6 News crew also watched two older women try to prevent further damage to the East Precinct, only to be harassed by some in the crowd. One woman stepped in front of people who were throwing paint in an apparent attempt to stop the vandalism, only to be splashed with paint in the face. Another woman who was using a walker tried to use a fire extinguisher to put out a blaze set in a trash can next to the precinct’s entrance. People dressed in black stepped in front of her to block her attempts.
In his letter, Turner beseeched Wheeler and Schmidt to ask both women about their experiences at the event. He said both endured harassment and assault at the hands of “rioters” who tried to “burn down East Precinct, which is connected to residential apartments occupied by general members of the public.”
Turner said these people are anything but peaceful protesters, rather “they are criminals who come prepared with helmets, masks, shields, fake “press” passes, rocks, mortars, fireworks, and other handheld weapons. They were not peacefully using words or signs or protest to enact social reform, racial equity, or police reform; they were wielding weapons meant to destroy property and harm people.”
Turner included two images of objects found by officers on Thursday night, including a loaded handgun and rebar ties.
“Twice in the last two days, these rioters have accomplished their mission: chaos and destruction,” Turner wrote. “That is because the Police Bureau’s operational direction from the Police Commissioner and City Council is to let the violence escalate almost to the point of no return, and only then can the Police Bureau intervene. That is insane. Police should have the latitude to prevent crime, not watch it happen and only intervene after the fact.
“It does not stop there. Although the Police Bureau has made 21 arrests in those two days, I have no doubt that those arrested will get away with their crimes without any consequence or accountability from the District Attorney’s Office.
“As Police Commissioner and District Attorney, your primary jobs are public safety, not politics. You are failing. Do not bother asking the many, many officers who have been injured by rocks, bottles, and mortars hurled at them with the sole intent to injure. Do not bother asking the many female and Black officers who have endured racial slurs, threats of rape, and threats to their personal and family safety. Neither of you seems to care much about the officers.”
Turner added that neither of the two women harassed on Thursday night will get justice because those responsible will not be held accountable.
The rest of his letter reads as follows:
“To Mayor Wheeler, our Police Commissioner: You are telling the Police Bureau what it can and cannot do to maintain the peace. Whatever operational direction you are giving the Police Bureau is not working. Our City is filled with violence. It is reckless for you to handcuff the Police Bureau by telling our officers to intervene only after violence has occurred, but not to take necessary action to prevent violence before it happens. Step up and do your job; let the Police Bureau reestablish peace on our streets and support the Bureau and its officers when they do so.
To District Attorney Schmidt: You ran on a platform of police accountability, which was a thinly veiled threat to indict police officers. What about indicting rioters who loot, burn, destroy, and assault? What about your ethical and moral duties to uphold the law and keep all our citizens safe? The people committing arson and assault are not peaceful protestors; they are criminals. Step up and do your job; hold the rioters accountable. If there is no consequence for crimes from the District Attorney’s office, there is no reason for criminals to stop the chaos.
I am disgusted that our City has come to this. If it is acceptable for rioters to commit acts of violence against community members and to try and burn down occupied buildings, and if this conduct is allowed to continue, then Portland is lost. Our communities demand accountability. That includes you two being accountable to the public. Allow our Police Officers to do the job they swore an oath to do, to stop crime and the fear of crime. Use the criminal justice system to hold criminals accountable for their crimes with actual consequences. Let the Police Chief, his command staff, and the rank-and-file officers do their jobs in protecting the City from the rioters who are bent on destroying our City, burning our police precincts, and assaulting officers or anyone else who gets in their way. Portland has had enough.”