In the face of violent protests throughout the nation, the rallying cry by many perpetrating the mayhem is for police to be defunded or disbanded.
The people of Portland, Oregon, had a brief glimpse of that reality, as police were forced to ignore all but emergency calls after law enforcement was tied up responding to violent rioting over the Independence Day holiday weekend.
Public Information Officer Lt. Tina Jones provided hourly video updates on the situation on the Portland Police Bureau Twitter feed overnight Saturday into early Sunday morning, including announcing that the city would not be able to respond to certain calls for help.
“A riot declaration is still in order in downtown Portland,” Jones said in her 1 a.m. update and described the area of the city shut down by civil unrest.
“Several hundred demonstrators continue to march throughout the downtown area, and several arrests have been made,” she continued. “There are reports of several businesses with broken windows in the area, and several arrests have been made.”
“It is important for everyone in the area to follow any lawful orders given by any law enforcement officer” she said.
“Those who do not follow lawful orders are subject to arrest, force, or munitions,” she said. “It is inadvisable to come downtown at this time.”
“PPB is handling emergency calls only city-wide at this time,” Jones announced. “Many calls for police service are holding in each precinct.”
“We want the crowd downtown to disperse so we can assist community members who need our assistance.”
1 a.m. Update on riot in Downtown Portland. pic.twitter.com/YO0SH3Yf7W
— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) July 5, 2020
Many replied to Jones’ declaration with support for the police, but detractors shared anti-police rhetoric, blaming and villainizing the police and their tactics.
This is an uprising. You will not divide us with false distinctions between “good” and “bad” tactics. We stand united in tearing down this system. Also, do you honestly think they don’t have undercover cops and informants in the crowd? That’s naive.
— Nom Nom De Guerre and 1312 others (@Spronsenite) July 5, 2020
If you really wanted to respond to those calls instead of gassing and beating your people, you do it. Quit your jobs.
— Lucky Mud ❤️ 🖤🏴☠️ (@dreadpiratejene) July 5, 2020
When you make declarations and charge through the streets
Throwing tear gas and whatever else,
By your asinine standards you are rioting–
So call the damn cops on yourself.
— All Cops Are War Criminals (@Je_suis_proctor) July 5, 2020
“Police attack Americans on Independence Day”
— votebernie2020 (@2020Votebernie) July 5, 2020
According to The Oregonian, Sunday was the 39th straight day of rioting for Portland, which began with the death of a black man, George Floyd, in the custody of a white Minneapolis police officer in late May.
The PPB declared the riot at about 11 p.m. on Saturday as throngs of violent protesters hurled projectiles, pointed lasers and aimed fireworks at police, allowing law enforcement to use tear gas to disburse the crowds in accordance with a June court order meant to restrict such tactics to life or safety threats.
It wasn’t until about 4:30 a.m. on Sunday that the mob began to clear out, by then resulting with over 12 arrests, CNN reported.
Portland police had issued a similar restriction to in-person response in March to protect officers from COVID-19, but still were able to take reports via phone for situations which were not life-threatening.
However, for those wishing to report crimes or other non-emergency situations overnight during the holiday weekend, the department was unable to do anything for them as officers were tied up with the vandalism and violence taking place in city streets.
The calls to defund or disband police have only gotten louder as protesters inadvertently demonstrate exactly why a strong police force is necessary.
Many have stated that officers should concentrate on community policing, utilizing outreach and relationship building, but violent anti-police protests destroy that opportunity and demonstrate the necessity of force in one fell swoop.
The PPB was forced to prioritize resources for riots over the weekend, leaving them only with the ability to protect parts of a city under siege from a violent mob and nothing else.
What a pity for a rape victim or a citizen whose home was just burglarized to be left alone and afraid in the middle of the night while police confronted protesters elsewhere, unable to even take their call.
But that was only a small glimpse of the future if anti-police sentiment crystallizes into public policy, leaving citizens fending for themselves in a chaotic, crime-infested city so folks will feel better about race relations (or whatever the supposed goal is).
If those who wish to abolish police completely have their way, it is frightening to imagine what kind of dystopian nightmare cities will become.
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