Officers who served on the Portland Police Bureau’s protest response unit have resigned after one of their own was indicted on assault charges for striking a protester in the head.
On Thursday (June 17), the department released a statement, saying the cops “left their voluntary positions” on the Rapid Response Team on June 16 and “no longer comprise a team.” The unit, which consisted of about 50 members, provided “public safety at crowd events when there was a threat of harm to the community.” Although the officers are no longer on the Response Team, they are still on duty with their normal assignments.
The resignations came after ex-Portland Officer Corey Budworth was charged with one count of assault in the fourth degree for allegedly hitting Teri Jacobs in the head during a George Floyd protest last summer.
The Portland Police Association (PPA) issued a statement backing Budworth’s actions, claiming that he was “caught in the crossfire of agenda-driven city leaders and a politicized criminal justice system” and “faced a violent and chaotic, rapidly evolving situation.” The PPA said the former cop “used the lowest level of baton force — a push; not a strike or a jab — to remove Ms. Jacobs from the area.”
The Response Team reportedly resigned because they did not feel supported by the district attorney and City Hall after being on the frontlines of more than 100 days of continuous protests. Mayor Ted Wheeler released a statement saying that he recognized how hard the past year has been for the officers.
“I want to acknowledge the toll this past year has taken on them and their families — they have worked long hours under difficult conditions,” he said. “I personally heard from some of them today, and I appreciate their willingness to share their concerns about managing the many public gatherings that often were violent and destructive.”