The Portland Police Association is moving from its longtime office in North Portland.
Police union Executive Director Daryl Turner announced the decision in a Facebook post late Tuesday, June 8. The police union's last move was six years ago, when its office moved from Northwest Portland to its current building on North Lombard Street. Since then, Turner said, the surrounding community had welcomed the officers with open arms — glad to have a sense of safety in the neighborhood.
However, over the course of the last year, the building has become a target.
As tensions rose across the nation and throughout the city, the role of police and their use of force has continuously been questioned. With numerous demonstrations in the city — ranging from peaceful protests to destructive riots — the police union building was a symbol of the institution many were calling for an end to.
For months, fires were lit, windows were smashed and walls were vandalized with graffiti. Dozens of people were arrested stemming from the near-nightly unrest in the area.
"As the rioting escalated at our location, we felt that the community was more and more at risk," Turner said, in part. "At the most recent arson incident, a neighbor stood on the sidewalk with a water hose trying to put the fire out just before first responders arrived. It went too far and it was time to find another location. We have since moved out and relocated."
The neighbor who tried to douse the arson, Craig (no last name available), had mixed reactions.
"It's going to bring a sense of the focus not being here during protests. I am sure the neighbors are going to be excited about that," he said, "but at the same time I am going to miss their presence."
Craig said he's met a lot of the officers.
"They are good human beings and they are just doing their job and so I am kind of sorry to see them leave, actually," he said.
Craig said that before the protests started, the area was quiet and safe. But when the protests began and continued, "It was very nerve-wracking, there was a lot of noise and they damaged the building. I just wanted both sides to know that I am cool with both of them."
Another neighbor who asked not to be identified said, "Simply trying to burn things doesn't help the city get better, it doesn't help the neighborhood get better and it certainly doesn't help with the problems we've had. … Having no cops around is not a good thing."
In the Facebook post, Turner said the Lombard building will be repaired and later put on the market to sell.
Turner thanked the community and the business owners located around the building.
"We want to take this opportunity to thank the North Portland and Kenton community and particularly the business owners located adjacent to the building. We appreciate their support and patience over the last year. We thank them for their tolerance. And we hope that with our relocation, they can have some peace."
Craig said the moving is bittersweet.
"I enjoyed their presence but it caused a strain on the peacefulness around here. It was always peaceful before the protests," he said. "The only thing constant is change hopefully it's a change for the better."
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.
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