A Portland Police Bureau PowerPoint training presentation included a meme that encouraged violence against protesters and that is affiliated with the far-right movement.
Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office announced Jan. 14 that it had recently discovered the image, titled “Prayer of the Alt Knight.” The image was included on the final slide of the 110-page presentation, accompanied by the words “the end.”
“I am disgusted that this offensive content was added to a training presentation for our police officers,” Wheeler said in a statement Friday. “As soon as I was made aware of the incident, I reached out to Chief [Chuck] Lovell, who shared my deep concern and assured me that a thorough and complete investigation was underway.”
The mayor’s announcement landed hours before attorneys representing the group Don’t Shoot Portland were expected to file a brief in their federal court case against the city, which was initially filed in June 2020 alleging excessive use of force by the Police Bureau against protesters. The brief will include slides from the presentation, according to lawyers familiar with the case. (Update, 6pm Friday, Jan 14: the plaintiff’s attorneys were unable to file the brief by today’s deadline because it exceeds the 50-page limit. They have filed a motion to extend the filing deadline until Jan. 21.)
The mayor’s office said the city discovered the slide in September 2021 while reviewing documents for the case. The office added that it does not know for certain when the presentation was created, but that it could date back to 2018.
“At this time, it remains unclear who added the final slide, when this slide was added to the training material, or if it was used during a Portland police training,” the mayor’s office said Friday.
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said he called for an internal affairs investigation once he learned of the slide in September.
“The message on the training presentation slide was contrary to PPB’s values and what we are trying to achieve as an organization,” Lovell said in a statement. “That investigation is still open and therefore, details cannot be discussed. However, I want to make it clear that the content of this message is not representative of the Portland Police Bureau and it is disappointing to all of us who work so hard to earn the community’s trust.”
City Commissioners Mingus Mapps and Dan Ryan both issued statements Friday in response.
“I am frustrated and disappointed by the Rapid Response Team training document,” Mapps said. “This team was disbanded, and we are reforming our approach to protests and rioting. The most unfortunate aspect of this is that it takes the attention away from the good work the Portland Police Bureau is doing to address gun violence and increase public safety in Portland.”
The city is expected to release a report detailing an outside contractors’ review of racial and political bias within the Police Bureau by the end of January. Ryan said he and his colleagues will share those findings “as soon as they are available,” and that he is pleased that an internal investigation of the protest presentation is underway.
“The extremist imagery and vitriol portrayed by the Portland Police Bureau Rapid Response Team’s training presentation is reprehensible,” Ryan said. “We need to build trust between impacted communities and law enforcement to create real community safety in Portland, and the wanton encouragement of police violence against protesters is a major setback in that vital process.”
Commissioner Carmen Rubio added: “Portlanders and the Department of Justice have asked us to transform our public safety system, and this is why. This disturbing image was not just the work of a single individual: it’s also the passive acceptance of those who do nothing.
“This flies in the face of the hopeful progress that is happening now to change our system,” Rubio continued. “Authentic transformation must have the commitment of our entire community—but especially elected leaders and law enforcement leadership—to accept responsibility where we need to and build a community safety system that, unlike this photo, will make us proud.”
The image’s text from the final presentation slide reads as follows:
“And the Lord said...
Woe be unto you, dirty hippy;
For thou stinketh of patchouli and BO;
For thou talk of Marx, yet know him not;
For thous hast bills, yet have not paid;
For thou hast dreadlocks and white skin.
And so I shall send among you,
My humble servants with hat, and with bat;
That they may christen your heads with hickory,
And anoint your faces with pepper spray.
And one thou hast been cuffed and stuffed;
Once thou has been stitched and bandaged;
Perhaps thou shall learn,
I’m tired of your shit.