The Defund the Police movement may have lost a little steam as cuts to law enforcement budgets across the nation have resulted in sharp increases in crime rates, but in Portland, OR, the anti-police riots rage on. Antifa and Black Lives Matter have practically laid siege to the city – and now the entire Rapid Response Team (RRT) has resigned, leaving residents effectively at the mercy of the mob.
The decision came just hours after officer Corey Budworth was indicted on a misdemeanor for reportedly hitting independent photojournalist Teri Jacobs in the face with a baton during a riot in August 2020 (view the video here). The officers’ union called the indictment a “politically driven charging decision” against an officer who “worked to restore order during a chaotic night of burning and destruction in Portland.”
Positions on the RRT were voluntary, and 50 members – the entire squad – quit, effectively disbanding the operation. The officers will continue with regular patrols and could still be sent to respond to protests, but the city lost its team dedicated to answering riot calls.
Deputy Chief Chris Davis said the decision was not solely based on Budworth’s indictment but also a lack of support after more than 150 nights of protests after the death of George Floyd. “If you put a human being through what they were put through, that takes a toll,” he explained. “They’re not feeling like that sacrifice that they have made, necessarily, has been understood very well, and that’s their perspective, and I have to honor their perspective.”
Jacobs’ lawyers, Juan Chavez and Franz Bruggemeier, argued in a statement that officers are not being held accountable. They said:
“Portland Police officers need to understand that they are not above the law nor are their actions exempt from the protections the Constitution aims to provide to people against exactly these types of abuse by police.”
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who allowed Antifa to take over parts of the city and even tried to participate in at least one protest, released a statement regarding the resignations:
“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.”
In October, Police Association President Daryl Turner and Chief of Police Chuck Lovell reached out to Wheeler, asking for public support for the members of the RRT who were “exhausted and injured” and had been used as “political pawns.” In the letter, Turner said the RRT members:
“do not volunteer to have Molotov cocktails, fireworks, explosives, rocks, bottles, urine, feces and other dangerous objects thrown at them. Nor do they volunteer to have threats of rape, murder, and assaults on their families hurled at them.”
The team, Turner explained, was caught between a rock and a hard place with conflicting demands to “stand down” and only use force when the protests got out of control. “These officers find themselves in a no-win situation,” he added. “They can’t win because of the position others have put them in.”
According to a March article in Willamette Week, the City of Roses averages two homicides per week so far in 2021. The total number of shootings in 2020 – 890 – is more than double the 393 of 2019. Last year, 55 people were killed in the city, the highest number in 26 years.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.