Copwatch - a project of Peace and Justice Works


Site Navigation

About us
People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Cool links
Other Information
Contact info


Rapping Back #82:
Portland Copwatch member Dan Handelman analyzes Police "Union" social media (formerly the "Rap Sheet" newsletter) for the People's Police Report

Varying Values on Violence Vulnerable to Vindictiveness, Victimization

From late August to mid-December, the Portland Police Association (PPA), which represents rank- and-file cops and 911 operators, posted numerous rants on its Facebook page fearmongering about protests for racial justice, the proposed new police oversight system, and what happens when police lose funding. This period marks the end of the reign of longtime PPA President Daryl Turner, whose messaging about those fears and the presumption that police protect the community were featured in videos produced by PPA and CNN. Throughout the 25 posts, the PPA repeatedly condemns all violence, oblivious to the irony not only that they are perpetrators of much violence, but that this argument boils down to "politicians need to let us use as much violence as possible to stop protests against police violence." While many of the articles address multiple topics, we identified the main themes of seven to be the protests (28%), another seven about the budget (also 28%), four about crime (12%) with a scant two in the normally prominent category of "bluewashing" (showing the friendly side of police--8%). Below are brief glimpses into what was written by the "union" to its supporters, the public, and elected officials.

PPA Wants Power to Crack Down Harder on Protests

There are several recurring themes in the PPA's posts about the police accountability/racial justice protests. For instance, on August 31 and the September 2 CNN appearance, Turner called on elected leadership to institute a "zero tolerance" policy toward "protest violence, gun violence and all other violence in the city." He probably doesn't realize this means police would have to stop using chemical agents, "less lethal" munitions and batons. He also says the City has "handcuffed" the police by restricting their ability to "[use] all the resources at their disposal to stop the rioting." Turner generally refers to the protests as "riots" in these and the posts from September 16, October 12, 14 and 26.

August 31: In a post made shortly after a right wing demonstrator was killed by a self-proclaimed antifascist in the aftermath of a pro-Trump rally in downtown (see Protests article this issue), Turner claims elected officials blamed everyone but themselves, pointing fingers at the President, federal agencies and local police. Turner also says the electeds vilified police and turned a blind eye to "anarchist groups." He claims Chief Lovell, who was appointed on June 11, was given no support, pointing to when Council voted to cut $15 million from the budget shortly after he was sworn in. Fact check: the vote was 6 days later and was in the works before Lovell's ascension. Turner raises concerns about retirements which happened in August and more expected in January. He says violence at protests result in "injuries, destruction of property and chaos in the City of Portland," making people not want to go downtown. He urges the officials to allow PPB to "restore safety." Fund the PPB, he says, before more blood is shed. Is that a threat or a prediction?

image of Sep 2, 2020 CNN screen calling Daryl Turner the 
Portland Mayor September 2: Turner appears on CNN Newsroom with Jim Sciutto, saying law enforcement needs support as the city faces an "'unprecedented' 100th day of violence." Yes, Portland Police have never used this much violence 100 days in a row. It quotes Turner saying political leaders including at the White House have to put an end to the violence. Agreed, but not in the way he means it.

September 11: Turner advises PPA members to focus on community safety, noting that the previous day Mayor Wheeler banned the use of tear gas while the Chief and Bureau "adamantly" voiced opposition. Notably, Turner doesn't mention that at the time raging wildfires were making the air unbreathable*-1 or that it was six months into an airborne pandemic which attacks people's respiratory systems. Turner cites the State Police calling the ban "reckless," predicting it would "blow up in the Mayor's face." Turner tells the rank and file not to be distracted by Wheeler, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty or anyone else "who tries to use policing and community safety for their own political ends." How many officers reading Turner's statement realize he could be talking about himself?

September 16: Writing on the budget, Turner says Portland is at a crossroads where peaceful protests "developed into nightly riots, looting, burning, assaults and even a murder."

September 24: Turner again references the man murdered "during a protest downtown," complaining that Council responded with tweets and news conferences while the "violence" continues. He expresses concern that Molotov cocktails were thrown at police the previous night after Wheeler banned CS gas, a move he calls "mind numbingly reckless." Oregon State Police and the Multnomah County Sheriff won't help Portland with the ban in place, he says. Hinting he thinks he should run the city, he writes to Council "You had a chance to lead and failed."

October 12: Pointing to "destruction and riots" on the eve of Indigenous Peoples Day, when the Oregon Historical Society and other sites were vandalized, Turner touts police professionalism. He notes officers left the protest to respond to a shooting in Powell Park, where they took the suspect into custody without injury. If they can avoid injuring an armed person, why can't they stop harming unarmed protestors?

October 26: Turner urges the Mayor and Chief to "stand up and publicly support police bureau members who voluntarily serve on the Rapid Response Team." This is the crowd control squad which he says is on front lines facing riots, arson, etc., requiring special training but resulting in no extra pay. Turner says these officers did not sign up to have fireworks and other objects thrown at them, causing "serious injuries," along with threats to rape and murder them or their families. He vaguely cites "warrantless criticism and false allegations by electeds," then mentions "baseless complaints... devoid of due process." This is likely a reference to the cops pulled from the front lines for being too violent, since he then tells the City not to "bench" people, as it leads to low morale. He says not to use police as political pawns, advocating against a ban on "less lethal tools." He says such a ban would leave "no other option but to use high levels of force"... except, of course, not using force at all.

Copaganda, Budgets, Crime, Houselessness

In the various posts leading up to the October 28 City Council vote on the fall budget, Turner used statistics and fearmongering to push back against momentum toward further cuts for police. While the cuts were voted down (see Budget article this issue), it's not clear Turner's rants had any impact. The tipping point, an analysis that PPB is overspending its overtime money on policing protests, is notably absent from Turner's concerns. On October 29 and November 4, he added that the Portland Street Response project, an alternative to police touted by Hardesty, is not up and running after a year of planning.

September 16: PPA launched a "support Portland Police" petition called "Protect Portland," urging Council to stop defunding the Bureau. Citing protests, Turner complains about "thin" staffing after the June "knee-jerk" decision to cut the budget. He talks about how diverse the officers' backgrounds are, calling them "members of the Portland community" even though only 18% of cops live in City limits (PPR #76).

September 17: On a related note, the PPA reminds folks they don't have to live in Portland to sign the petition, which gathered 4000 signatures in its first 24 hours.

October 3: A post features an October 1 KGW story asking why civilian-on-civilian shootings are on the rise. The PPA notes the 110 shootings in September were a 243% increase over the 32 in 2019. They quote a community member who says "when you take away the piece that's suppressing gun violence, that's what happens." This is a tired trope, blaming the uptick in shootings on the dismantling of the Gun Violence Reduction Team (GVRT), when gun violence is in fact up all across America under the pandemic (see, for example, the August 11 New York Times).

October 12: A video from Protect Portland features heavy music as Turner narrates. He warns that in 5-10 years there will be no more police, while the video shows boarded up buildings and tents downtown. Turner shows police precincts boarded up after protestors set fires. He says they painted over graffiti at PPA headquarters so nobody had to look at the words painted there, at which point the video shows swear words and graffiti calling cops "racists and killers." Turner asserts police can "evolve" and make reforms, but not without more money.

October 21: Today's post says Portland has fewer cops than in 1995 but 150,000 more people, but doesn't address the much lower crime rate.

October 26: Turner urges Council not to defund the police. He says he supports public policy to improve police, safety and (surprisingly) accountability. Without proof, he claims the previous $15 million cut resulted in increased crime and gun violence. In July, right after the GVRT was defunded, there were 99 shootings, up by 30%. He emphasizes that 66% victims in July were Black, saying this proves defunding hurts the community. Citing a Gallup poll, Turner says defunding is unpopular. "Only" 15% of people want to abolish police-- which is actually an impressive 1 in 6 people. Conveniently leaving out the overall 47% support of reallocating police funds, he notes that just 28% "strongly" support it.*-2

October 29: After Council deferred the vote for a week, Turner claimed defunding would lead to non-compliance with US Department of Justice (DOJ) Settlement Agreement, which requires the City to adequately fund the PPB. But if other programs meet public safety needs, a reduced PPB would still be "adequate." Turner says a vote to defund means the "extremist anti-police ideology" will win, asking who will bring justice? He ends by writing: "We deserve better."

November 4: The day before the defunding vote, a video of infograhpics and accompanying text attempt to establish facts. The PPA says it is "false" when Commissioner Eudaly says the cuts will not reduce personnel, again ignoring the analysis that the cuts are related to overtime spending and bad management. They say the budget is not "bloated" because of a total $5.6 billion city budget, only 4% goes to the PPB. But the PPB gets about 30% of discretionary funds (see DOJ article in this issue).

Challenging the New Oversight System

In a post on November 5, the PPA announced a legal challenge to the new oversight system voted in two days earlier (see article this issue). Claiming to be open to a discussion, they call the charter amendment "flawed," saying the new board will not be able to be held accountable. They call it "unconscionable" Hardesty decided to ask voters to support the new board without an "honest explanation." According to the PPA, state law says the board must be negotiated before being sent to voters. Though this is technically the first full non-personal post by the PPA's new President Brian Hunzeker, it ends with the same words Turner used on October 29: "We deserve better."

*1-Turner does mention the wildfires, asking readers to remember 9/11 while life and property are taken.
Back to text.

*2- see news.gallup.com/poll/315962/americans-say-policing-needs- major-changes.aspx.
Back to text.

New PPA President Promises More of the Same

image of July 2007East Portland News article showing Hunzeker 
by a police motorcycleOn October 31, new PPA President Brian Hunzeker introduced himself, thanking Association members for letting him lead them. Apparently he has been an officer for 20 years, ten of which he has spent as a Vice President on the PPA's executive board under Daryl Turner. He praises Turner's "strong leadership and vision," echoing the idea that policing must evolve.

On December 14, he posted a long piece capped by the assertion "we do not apologize for doing what is right." Hunzeker talks about officers enduring "false allegations" equating George Floyd's death to actions by the PPB. He says he agrees we need accountability, but points to elected leaders including DA Mike Schmidt, who (per Hunzeker) supports the idea that "the lawless can claim free speech and get away with nearly anything."

The Portland Police Association does not set policy. However, some PPA leadership express negative attitudes toward citizens and civilian oversight in their web postings. We worry these ideas may spread throughout Portland's ranks. The PPA's website is ppavigil.org.

  People's Police Report

January, 2021
Also in PPR #82

100+ Days of Protests and Police Violence
  Officer Indicted for On-Duty Assault with Vehicle
Portland Out of Compliance with DOJ Agreement
Oversight Board Continues; New System Voted In
No PPB Shootings but Two Incidents in Washington
  • State Deadly Force Incidents Pass Average Despite Pandemic
Outside Report Knocks '18 Shooting of Black Man
New Profililng Reports Show Same Disparities
Houseless Community Faces Winter, COVID, Sweeps
Terror Task Force: Community Wants Full Withdrawal
Training Council Analyzes Use of Force
 • Second Round of Police Budget Cuts Scuttled
 • Police Contract Talks to Restart in January
 • Lawsuits Total Nearly $16 M in 28 Years
 • New "Brady Rule" Policy and Other Policies Posted
• Rapping Back #82

Portland Copwatch
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242
(503) 236-3065/ Incident Report Line (503) 321-5120
e-mail: copwatch@portlandcopwatch.org

Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.

People's Police Report #82 Table of Contents
Back to Portland Copwatch home page
Peace and Justice Works home page
Back to top