After one of their own colleagues was indicted, approximately 50 Portland police officers, sergeants, and detectives resigned en masse from the Portland Police Bureau’s protest response unit on Wednesday. This resignation is unprecedented.
The Oregonian notes that police feel abandoned by City Hall and the district attorney, after dealing with over 100 consecutive nights of protest coverage. The indictment of one of their own team members was the final straw.
The unit, which existed to “provide public safety at crowd events when there was a threat of harm to the community,” consisted of approximately 50 voluntary employees, who served on the unit “in addition to their regular duties.”
After a tenuous year confronting violent rioters and extreme, unprecedented circumstances, members of the now-disbanded protest response unit simply refuse to volunteer any longer. They still serve on duty and complete regular assignments, but the protest response unit no longer exists.
In October, Former President of the Police Union, and Presiding Executive Director, Daryl Turner emphasized that “members [of the protest response unit] do not volunteer to have Molotov cocktails, fireworks, explosives, rocks, bottles, urine, feces and other dangerous objects thrown at them.” He added that members of the unit volunteer without receiving any specialty pay. They do it to protect their communities.
Turner continued: “Nor do they volunteer to have threats of rape, murder, and assaults on their families hurled at them. They do not volunteer to suffer serious injuries, to be subjected to warrantless criticism and face allegations by elected officials, or to suffer through baseless complaints and lengthy investigations devoid of due process.” He lamented that “These officers find themselves in a no-win situation.”
The resignations, and ensuing unit dismantlement, follow the indictment of Portland police officer Corey Budworth, who served on the unit. Budworth was charged “in connection with an alleged assault during a confrontation with protestors demonstrating against George Floyd’s murder last year.” He “allegedly [struck] a woman in the head” with a baton.
The police union has criticized the prosecution as politically motivated, arguing that Budworth’s baton strike was an accident, not a criminal act.
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