Daryl Turner, executive director of the Portland Police Association union, said that “political venom” caused the entire Rapid Response Team (RRT) to resign. The 50-member squad made the decision after a Portland officer, Corey Budworth, was recently indicted for allegedly assaulting a photographer during a riot last year.
Those officers “put themselves in harm’s way to restore order and peace when destruction and mayhem struck,” Turner said in a statement on June 18. “Rather than acknowledging and thanking those officers, rather than prioritizing public safety and peace, politicians criticized the RRT, further fueling the fires in our City.”
Aside from that, he said, “local politicians celebrated the destruction of our City as if looting, arson, property damage, physical violence, and even murder were permissible and lawful First Amendment activities.”
Starting in May of last year, Portland endured riots and demonstrations on a near-nightly basis, leading to hundreds of arrests, following the death of George Floyd. A number of officers were injured during the unrest.
In a statement, the Portland Police Bureau said the riot squad members left their voluntary positions but that the officers would still carry out regular assignments.
Meanwhile, Turner said that the “Rapid Response Team members did not volunteer to have Molotov cocktails, fireworks, explosives, rocks, bottles, urine, feces, and other dangerous objects thrown at them. Nor did they volunteer to have threats of rape, murder, and assault on their families hurled at them.
“They did not volunteer to suffer serious injuries, to be subject to warrantless criticism and false allegations by elected officials, or to suffer through baseless complaints and lengthy investigations devoid of due process.”
Turner, in his statement, specifically criticized City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty—who has frequently called on the city to defund its police department. After the resignations last week, Hardesty called on Mayor Ted Wheeler and the city council to formally disband the anti-riot squad.
“Hardesty has used the occasion to promote a self-serving, anti-police, anti-public safety agenda. Instead of defending our communities and the business owners whose livelihoods were destroyed by the riots, she continues to endorse violence,” the union boss wrote.
Hardesty’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.
Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt, whose office has rejected 891 of 1,108 criminal civil-unrest cases since last May, thanked the officers who resigned.
“Despite these pressures, these law enforcement professionals remained professional, and their actions lawful,” he said in a June 15 statement. “But when that line is crossed, and a police officer’s use of force is excessive and lacks a justification under the law, the integrity of our criminal justice system requires that we, as prosecutors, act as a mechanism for accountability. Public trust requires nothing less.”