Portland, OR – After violent antifa protesters sent police and citizens to the hospital on Saturday in downtown Portland, the head of the Portland police union has called on the mayor to “remove the handcuffs from our officers” and let them do their jobs.
Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner held nothing back in a statement he released following the June 29 melee that left eight people injured, including three police officers, KATU reported.
“Where are the voices condemning the lawlessness and violence?” Turner asked. “If this violence had been directed at Antifa, there would have been an immediate call for an independent, outside investigation. This is a perfect example of Portland politics at work and why our great City is now under fire in the national news.”
“The Mayor, our Police Commissioner, is not allowed to use the rank and file officers of the Portland Police Bureau as a shield to deflect Portland’s negative press nationwide,” the union leader continued. “As we have said before and will continue to say: Police officers work to uphold the Constitution, including the right to free speech. It’s our job to ensure that our community can peacefully protest without fear of violence but right now our hands are tied.”
This not the first time that Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has been in the hot seat for the way his city manages violent protests led by black-masked antifa determined to draw blood from conservative demonstrators.
In October of 2018, protesters and antifa took over city streets in Portland and blocked traffic, threatened drivers, and damaged an elderly man’s vehicle.
In all of the cell phone videos of the mayhem, Portland police were either absent or simply standing by watching the chaos unfold before them.
It was a similar scene on Saturday when most of the city’s streets were shut down or blocked as roving bands of antifa, clad in black and wearing hoods or helmets with black face masks, attacked police, conservative demonstrators, and at least one journalist.
Separate demonstrations led by different factions had been planned in several places in the city, but by 3 p.m. the violence and mayhem had escalated to the point where the Portland Police Bureau was forced to declare a civil disturbance and unlawful assembly, The Oregonian reported.
Three people were hospitalized after being attacked by protesters who wielded pipes and bats and threw eggs and milkshakes believed to have been laced with quick drying cement.
Quick-drying cement can cause chemical burns, even after it's washed off.
During the chaos of the day, journalist Andy Ngo was attacked by a mob several times.
Ngo was filming the crowd when he was attacked from multiple directions by masked antifa and his GoPro camera was stolen.
He was able to get clear of the crowd and talk with officers, and then was transported to the emergency room for treatment.
Ngo was admitted to the hospital overnight with a “brain bleed,” according to his attorney Harmeet K. Dhillon.
The mayor, who was out of the country for the protests, released his own statement afterwards, KATU reported.
“Portland has always been a beacon of free speech,” Wheeler said. “We are proud of that history. But in the last couple of years, some have increasingly used their opportunity to exercise their 1st amendment rights, as an opportunity to incite violence.”
“Over the weekend some chose to engage in violence in Portland, which is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. We stand against all forms of violence - regardless of someone’s political leanings,” he continued.
“Portland police officers have the unenviable task of keeping the peace,” the mayor said. “It’s a difficult job and hard decisions are made in real-time. While we continue to learn more about what transpired over the weekend, we will keep you informed. We will do everything we can to make sure that those who have committed violence are held accountable.”
But the police union saw the problem in a more black and white way.
“It doesn't matter if our citizens are democrats or republicans; no one should be attacked in the streets of our city,” Turner said in his statement. “Good leadership means taking the reins and stepping forward to let people know when there is wrongdoing. The law is applicable no matter which side you’re on.”
The union president called on Wheeler to take action and let police do their jobs.
“It’s time for our Mayor to do two things: tell both ANTIFA and Proud Boys that our City will not accept violence in our City and remove the handcuffs from our officers and let them stop the violence through strong and swift enforcement action. Enough is enough,” Turner said.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Monday called for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate and bring action against the Portland mayor.
“To federal law enforcement: investigate & bring legal action against a Mayor who has, for political reasons, ordered his police officers to let citizens be attacked by domestic terrorists,” Cruz tweeted.
Compounding the problem of bad leadership, the Portland police have been running dangerously short on officers in recent months.
In April, Portland Police Bureau Chief Danielle Outlaw told a meeting of city commissioners that there are 120 vacancies in what should be a department of 1,000 officers for the city, KOIN reported.
Out of more than 60 applicants for public safety specialist jobs, only three were able to pass the required background check.
But the head of the police union said in a press release at the time that the officer shortage has less to do with passing the background check than the police bureau’s inability to attract the best applicants because of anti-police sentiment in the city, KOIN reported.