Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner called on elected officials to denounce the ongoing violence by a small group of protesters following Sunday night clashes outside the downtown Justice Center.
"It is time for our elected officials to stand up and defend Portland. Condemn the violence and the burning, looting and destruction of property," the head of the union representing rank-and-file police employees said in an open letter released Monday, July 6.
In the letter, Turner pushed back at Gov. Kate Brown, Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) and other elected officials who have blamed the police for the long series of violent late night clashes that have broken out mostly after large crowds of peaceful protesters have gone home. A federal judge has restricted police use of tear gas to disperse crowds and enjoined the police from requiring reporters and legal observers from being arrested for not dispersing.
"What angers me and the good people of Portland, even more, is that elected officials at the state and local levels are defending these criminal actions while in the same breath demonizing and vilifying the officers on the front lines protecting our communities, our safety, our livelihood, and our rights," Turner said.
The letter was released hours after more than 100 people occupied the park and the streets outside the Justice Center late Sunday, after construction crews boarded the building after Saturday night's protests ended in fireworks and tear gas — with the Portland Police Bureau declaring a riot.
Sunday marked the 39th straight day of protests in the city since the murder of African American George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The confrontations began around 9:30 p.m. when people began to arrive at the Justice Center. Construction workers were still working on the building at the time and were reportedly heckled by people. Federal police pushed them back so the work could continue. By 10 p.m., roughly 200 protesters filled the parks and nearby streets.
By 11 p.m., the crowd had grown in size and began to set off fireworks near Southwest Third Avenue. A bonfire also was spotted in Chapman Square.
"As riots continue, it is obvious to everyone that this is no longer about George Floyd, social justice, or police reform," Turner said.
KOIN News 6 is a news partner of the Portland Tribune and contributed to this story.
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