First Responders

Union Head Says 50 Portland Cops Who Resigned Together ‘Held the Line’

June 18, 2021Joshua Skovlund
portland police

A Portland police officer stands ready in full riot gear on June 10, 2020. Photo courtesy of Unsplash/Tito Texidor III.

The union that represents police officers in Portland offered fiery support for the roughly 50 members of the city’s Rapid Response Team who resigned as a group from their positions yesterday. The resignations were in protest of the indictment of RRT member Corey Budworth, whom a grand jury charged with misdemeanor assault on Tuesday. Budworth is accused of striking photojournalist Teri Jacobs on the head with a baton during an Aug. 18, 2020, protest. 

The indictment struck the RRT team members as a betrayal, according to the police union, the Portland Police Association (PPA).

“The only glue holding the team together was their commitment, dedication, and integrity to serve their communities,” a PPA statement reads. “But that glue dissolved when political venom demonized these public servants for doing exactly what they were tasked to do — restore peace and order in our City.” The statement was issued by Daryl Turner, the executive director of the Portland Police Association.

Federal agents deployed CS gas to disperse protesters near the federal courthouse in Portland, Ore., July 17, 2020, after demonstrators tore down a chain-link fence that officials had erected. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

The officers remain police officers but resigned their positions on the specially picked team often sent on high-pressure and possibly violent calls. The Oregonian reported Friday on a memo from RRT commander Lt. Jacob Clark to the Portland Police Chief Charles Lovell describing a two-hour meeting of a majority of the RRT officers that ended in a unanimous vote to resign.

“Team members engaged in a robust professional and rational discussion regarding the status of the team,” Clark said. “Ultimately, all team members present voted to resign from RRT.”

Clark outlined 14 “Resignation rationales” in the memo, including:

  • Nearly all members of the RRT were injured during the civil unrest in the summer or fall of 2020.

  • A lack of leadership from “the Chief’s Office, City Hall, local political leaders, and the District Attorney’s office” including statements from District Attorney Mike Schmidt that protesters and rioters took to be indications that no charges would be brought against violent protesters.

  • Protesters, the memo said, had shown up at police officers’ homes and doxxed their personal and family information online to other antipolice activists.

  • Often vague and changing standards of behavior for police in protests. According to the memo, RRT officers believed that new, constraining rules were being applied retroactively to police actions, putting officers in jeopardy of punishment for actions taken that were allowable at the time.

In a press release Wednesday, the Portland Police Bureau indicated that the RRT was effectively disbanded by the move.

Police in Portland, Ore., respond to a protest on Aug. 17, 2019. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

The indictment is the first against a police officer stemming from Portland’s protests and riots last year, which lasted more than 100 consecutive days before petering out into less frequent disturbances and occupations.

The RRT was part of an all-out response by Portland police during protests that often turned violent, Turner said.

“I’m not talking about peaceful protests; I’m talking about the riots that consistently ensued, night-after-night, under the cover of darkness, after the peaceful protesters had gone home,” Turner said. “Night-after-night, local politicians celebrated the destruction of our City as if looting, arson, property damage, physical violence, and even murder were permissible and lawful First Amendment activities.

“The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Rank and File Officers including the Rapid Response Team (RRT) held the line.”

Read Next: NYC Ambulance Crews Taking ‘Photographic Evidence’ of Bathroom Use, Emailing to Supervisors

Joshua Skovlund
Joshua Skovlund

Joshua Skovlund is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die. He has covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. After five years as in paramedicine, he transitioned to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children. His creative outlets include Skovlund Photography and Concentrated Emotion.

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