In a statement issued Monday morning titled "This Cannot Continue," Portland Police Association president Daryl Turner called on elected officials to condemn protests that have led to violence and the destruction of property.
"As riots continue, it is obvious to everyone that this is no longer about George Floyd, social justice or police reform," Turner said. "This is about a group of individuals intent on causing injury, chaos and destruction by rioting, looting, starting fires, throwing rocks, bottles, mortars, urine and feces at peaceful protesters, as well as the police."
His statement appears to be the first mention of Portland protesters throwing human waste at officers and could not be independently confirmed.
Turner's letter follows a holiday weekend in which police twice declared riots and deployed tear gas, while protesters launched fireworks at the federal courthouse and lit a statue on fire. It is the latest in a series of competing statements issued by elected officials and business leaders with differing views of the protests and the riots that sometimes result. The statements range from decrying the police for aggressive tactics and excessive use of force to blaming the protesters for instigating violence and destruction.
In his statement, Turner argued that protesters—not police—are responsible for escalating violence, and said the majority of destruction to property has been carried out by white protesters uninterested in bringing about meaningful change.
"Their destructive and chaotic behavior defines the meaning of white privilege," Turner said. "Their total disregard for people, property and the law embodies entitlement."
Turner did not name specific public officials, but he seemed to direct his message toward elected officials who have criticized the police for their treatment of protesters. Those officials include House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) and City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty.
"It is time for our elected officials to stand up and defend Portland. Condemn the violence and the burning, looting and destruction of property," Turner said. "Understand that it is a sign of strength, not weakness, to support the rank-and-file officers who are out on the front lines being assaulted, taking verbal and physical abuse, and working endless hours without rest."
Last week, Kotek chided Portland Mayor Wheeler in an open letter for allowing the Portland Police Bureau's repeated use of aggressive tactics against protesters.
"What needed to be protected last night? An empty office building?" Kotek wrote. "Was this need more important than the health of neighbors, of children in a neighborhood, of people returning home from work? The declaration of an 'unlawful assembly' did not seem warranted. The declaration of a 'riot' was an abuse of the statute. Therefore, the ensuing actions by the PPB were unlawful."
On July 1, Hardesty called on Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell to immediately stop the use of tear gas and close-range crowd control munitions against protesters. She also called on Lovell to review the bureau's protocol for determining an assembly "unlawful."
Wheeler has pledged a review of tactics and protocols. But he has directed much of his criticism toward protesters rather than police. On July 3, he issued a statement warning that protesters who instigate riots were endangering people's lives.
"Groups continue to target the [Multnomah County] Justice Center, threatening the safety of hundreds of inmates and employees inside," Wheeler wrote. "They continue to hurt small businesses owned by people of color, instill fear in communities of color, and start fires in buildings with people inside, in one specific case, even bolting emergency doors so that they could not escape." (That last allegation refers to a protest outside the Police Bureau's North Precinct last month.)
Wheeler has received support from some Black business owners and civil rights leaders. That same day, Kali Ladd, executive director of KairosPDX, said in a series of tweets that white protesters were enacting destruction and violence, and that they were detracting from the messaging of the Black Lives Matter movement.
"These white actors are enacting dominance in a different form under the guise of equity and its infuriating as it is simultaneously destroying our city while distracting attention away from the actual movement that is SO NEEDED," Ladd wrote. "White supremacy has many forms."