A group of about 50 police officers who had served voluntarily on a specialized crowd control unit in Portland, Ore., have stepped down from the squad after a year of sometimes violent clashes with protesters, the city’s Police Department said on Thursday.
The resignations came just hours after a member of the unit, Officer Corey Budworth, was indicted on a misdemeanor assault charge that he physically injured an independent photojournalist during a protest in August.
Video of the episode shows an officer using his baton to shove a woman to the ground and then pushing the baton in her face as a voice declares in what sounds like an official announcement: “Officers are taking lawful action. Stay on the sidewalk.”
The officers’ union has denounced the indictment, calling it a “politically driven charging decision” against an officer who “worked to restore order during a chaotic night of burning and destruction in Portland.” Efforts to reach Officer Budworth’s lawyer on Thursday were not immediately successful.
The officers voted to leave the unit, known as the Rapid Response Team, hours after one of its members was charged with assaulting a woman at an Oregon protest in August.
On Wednesday night, just hours after the Multnomah County district attorney announced the indictment, the roughly 50 colleagues who had served with Officer Budworth on the unit voted to leave the squad, known as the Rapid Response Team, Deputy Chief Chris Davis said on Thursday. He said the officers would remain on regular patrol and could still be deployed to respond to protests.
The officers, he said, had complained not only about the indictment, but about what they viewed as a broader lack of support after more than 150 nights of sustained protests, fueled in part by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020.
Read the full story in the New York Times
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