Police union pushes back at Kotek over criticism
The president of the Portland Police Association has published a blistering response to Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek's recent letter criticizing police for their crowd control tactics last week.
In the letter released on Thursday, July 2, PPA President Daryl Turner questions whether Kotek was aware of certain circumstances surrounding the events of a protest that was later declared a riot on the night of Tuesday, June 30.
Police and protesters squared off near the Portland Police Association building on North Lombard Street after a group of a few hundred people marched to the area from Peninsula Park. Police almost immediately declared the group an unlawful assembly and ordered people to disperse. Many in the crowd refused to go.
Some protesters shot fireworks and threw rocks toward officers and officers shot back cannisters of tear gas. A riot was declared and 29 people were arrested over the course of the night.
The next day, Kotek posted a scathing letter on her Facebook page and laid the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Portland Police Bureau.
"From the reports I've read and from what I've heard from neighbors — counter to what the PPB is officially saying — there was no risk to the public or to officers until the PPB decided to declare an unlawful assembly to permit the use of and deploy crowd control devices. What needed to be protected last night? An empty office building? Was this need more important than the health of neighbors, of children in a neighborhood, of people returning home from work?"
Kotek implored Mayor Ted Wheeler, who is also the police commissioner, "to take action to keep this from happening again."
In his letter addressed to Kotek on Thursday, Turner asked, "If you were referencing the Portland Police Association office, how do you know the office was empty? Were you aware that two PPA officials, including myself, were in the office that evening? Our personal safety is important."
"Were you aware that the PPA office is situated next to a number of small businesses owned or operated by people of color?" Turner wrote. "Their lives and their livelihoods are important. Were you aware that the PPA office is also surrounded by homes and diverse residents? Their lives and their homes are important. Recent events tell us that a small number of individuals have hijacked the racial equity platform of peaceful protests for their own chaotic agendas; they simply want to destroy our City and to hurt people. Did you speak up about the unacceptable actions the evening of June 25, 2020 when those individuals barricaded the doors of North Precinct and tried to burn down the police facility while officers and civilians were in the building? The safety of those innocent people is important."
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. You can find their story with video here.
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