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Portland Police launches internal investigation into training presentation meme

The Portland Police Bureau has launched an internal probe into a training presentation which included a meme that mocked Bible verses and called protesters ‘dirty hippies’ who read Marx, have dreadlocks and smell like patchouli.

‘And the Lord said… Woe be unto you, dirty hippy,’ the offensive meme, included at the end of a 110-page PowerPoint presentation, read. 

The image shows what appears to be a police officer in tactical gear raising his fist against an unarmed person in civilian clothes.  

The alarm was raised by a city worker in September after they noticed the meme during a legal review of a lawsuit against the city pertaining to the bureau’s response to the 2020 protests, KGW News reported. 

Portland Mayor and Police Commissioner Ted Wheeler condemned the image, which the city plans to include in court filings, on Friday. 

‘I am disgusted that this offensive content was added to a training presentation for our police officers,’ Wheeler said in a statement. 

Wheeler’s office said it was unclear when the image was created and whether or not it had actually been used during training. 

The Portland Police Bureau has launched an internal probe into a training presentation which included a meme that called protesters ‘dirty hippies’

Portland Mayor and Police Commissioner Ted Wheeler said he was 'disgusted' by the image

Portland Mayor and Police Commissioner Ted Wheeler said he was ‘disgusted’ by the image 

The alarm was raised by a city worker in September after they noticed the meme during a legal review of a lawsuit against the city pertaining the bureau's response to the 2020 protests

The alarm was raised by a city worker in September after they noticed the meme during a legal review of a lawsuit against the city pertaining the bureau’s response to the 2020 protests

What the Portland Police training presentation meme says 

‘For thou stinketh of patchouli and 80;

For thou talk of Marx, yet know him not;

For thou hast bills, yet have not paid;

For thou hast dreadlocks and white skin.

And so I shall send among you,

My humble servants with hat, and bat, 

That they may christen your heads with hickory.

And anoint your faces with pepper spray.  

And once thou hast been cuffed and stuffed;

Once thou has been stitched and bandaged;

Perhaps thou shall learn,

I’m tired of your s**t.’

Amen.’  

Wheeler’s statement continued: ‘I believe that the hard-working members of the Portland Police Bureau who are seeing this for the first time are also angry and disgusted by the image and words on this slide and how it portrays members of our community and law enforcement.’

The presentation was intended to tackle how Portland Police handles mass protests, CNN reported.

Ironically, the document encouraged officers not to stereotype protesters, as they could come from ‘different sides of the political spectrum,’ before proceeding to label them ‘hippies,’ who read Marx, have dreadlocks and smell like patchouli.

Written as mock Bible verses, the meme states that officers, referred to as ‘humble servants with hat, and bat,’ are sent by God to ‘anoint [protesters’] faces with pepper spray.’ 

It also mentions protesters being ‘cuffed and stuffed,’ as well as ‘stitched and bandaged.’

‘The message on the training presentation slide was contrary to PPB’s values and what we are trying to achieve as an organization,’ Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in a statement. 

‘Upon learning of its existence, I ordered an Internal Affairs investigation. That investigation is still open and therefore, details cannot be discussed,’ Lovell added. 

For months, beginning in late May 2020, Portland – one of the whitest cities in America – was roiled by near-nightly Black Lives Matter protests.

At the time, officials including Wheeler were criticized for what many described as an overly aggressive police force.

During the height of protests, officers reported more than 6,000 uses of force. The US Department of Justice rebuked the bureau for its ‘abnormally high’ reliance on violent tactics. 

Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in a statement that the meme did not align with the Portland Police Bureau's values

Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in a statement that the meme did not align with the Portland Police Bureau’s values 

During the height of protests, officers reported more than 6,000 uses of force in Portland. The US Department of Justice rebuked the bureau for its 'abnormally high' reliance on violent tactics

During the height of protests, officers reported more than 6,000 uses of force in Portland. The US Department of Justice rebuked the bureau for its ‘abnormally high’ reliance on violent tactics

In 2020, hundreds of people marched the streets of Oregon's largest city demanding racial justice after the murder of George Floyd by a white officer and calling for police defunding

In 2020, hundreds of people marched the streets of Oregon’s largest city demanding racial justice after the murder of George Floyd by a white officer and calling for police defunding 

Portland police have a history of being combative.

In 2014, the city and Department of Justice reached a settlement agreement following a federal investigation that found Portland officers used excessive force against people with mental illness.

Some of the police spending that passed in November- including $2.7 million for body-worn cameras and hiring staff to assess the police department’s crowd control tactics – were created in order to meet the Justice Department’s reform requirements.

In 2020, hundreds of people marched the streets of Oregon’s largest city demanding racial justice after the murder of George Floyd by a white officer.

Among the rallying cries were ‘defund the police’ – a call for elected officials to reallocate some law enforcement funding elsewhere.

In June 2020, the Portland City Council and the mayor answered by cutting $15 million from the police budget. An additional $12 million was cut due to pandemic-caused economic shortfalls.

Portland refunded its police department in November after a staggering surge in crimes, specifically murders in the liberal bastion. 

Portland City Council unanimously passed a fall budget bump that added back $5.2 million of the $15 million it cut from police.

‘Many Portlanders no longer feel safe,’ Mayor Ted Wheeler said at the time. ‘And it is our duty, as leaders of this city, to take action and deliver better results within our crisis response system.’ 

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