Portland’s Protest Response Unit Officers Resign En Masse, Following Indictment Of Fellow Police Officer

Portland’s Protest Response Unit Officers Resign En Masse, Following Indictment Of Fellow Police Officer

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. 

The Oregonian also notes that “[t]he Portland Police Association issued a statement earlier this week, saying [the district attorney] needs to prosecute ‘the real criminals who are perpetrating vandalism, arson, gun violence, and other violent crimes in [the] community,’ and not go after officers attempting to do their jobs with little support.”

Meanwhile, Democrat Mayor Ted Wheeler conceded that the past year has been difficult for officers: “I want to acknowledge the toll this past year has taken on them and their families — they have worked long hours under difficult conditions. I personally heard from some of them today, and I appreciate their willingness to share their concerns about managing the many public gatherings that often were violent and destructive.”

Yet, Wheeler’s comments are insufficient in convincing officers to resume their former duties on Portland’s disbanded protest unit. And Portland continues to be an epicenter of violence.

In March, over 50 rioters burned and vandalized Portland’s Mark Hatfield Federal Courthouse. In December, Portland’s (shortly-lived) Antifa autonomous zone sported messages calling for the murder of police officers. Portland also burned following the November presidential election. And all of this follows a summer of violent anarchy.

Meanwhile, just last month, a march on the anniversary of George Floyd’s death became violent and five individuals were arrested. The Portland police department faces “an exodus” of demoralized officers.

Audrey Unverferth is an intern at The Federalist and a senior at the University of Chicago, where she studies Law, Letters, and Society and Russian and East European Studies. She is also the co-founder, publisher, and editor-in-chief of the Chicago Thinker. Follow her on Twitter @audrey__unver or email [email protected]
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