PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Portland Police Bureau’s Internal Affairs department is investigating a police training presentation that ended with a slide showing a right-wing meme endorsing violence against protesters.
Mayor Ted Wheeler on Friday called the slide “unauthorized” and said it was discovered while the city was reviewing and preparing documents to be turned over as part of discovery evidence in a Black-led nonprofit’s legal case.
The group, Don’t Shoot Portland, has sued the city in federal court alleging officers used excessive force responding to racial justice protests in 2020.
Wheeler, who serves as police commissioner, said in a statement Friday that he is disgusted that the offensive content was added to a training presentation for police officers.
“As soon as I was made aware of the incident, I reached out to Chief (Chuck) Lovell, who shared my deep concern and assured me that a thorough and complete investigation was underway,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler’s office said the city did not immediately release the presentation because it wanted to “help protect the integrity of the initial phase” of the investigation, and released it publicly this week because it will be included in an upcoming court filing.
Officials said it is unclear who added the final slide or if it was used during a Portland Police training.
The text on the image known as the “Prayer of the Alt Knight” references violence against a “dirty hippy” and is attributed to “Based Stickman,” an alias of far-right activist Kyle Chapman, who founded a subset of the far-right Proud Boys group, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty on Twitter Friday afternoon wrote after the mayor’s release of the slide, “This is horrifying and we cannot be silent when our sworn police are utilizing such dehumanizing ideologies as they protect our communities.”
Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in a statement that the content and message in the slide “is not representative of the Portland Police Bureau and it is disappointing to all of us who work so hard to earn the community’s trust.’’
The suit by Don’t Shoot Portland prompted U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez in November to find two Portland police officers had acted in contempt of his June 26, 2020, order barring police from firing certain less-lethal launchers and using pepper spray on people engaged in passive resistance.
The Police Bureau’s Rapid Response Team, its specialized crowd control unit, resigned en masse last year, a day after one of its officers was indicted on a misdemeanor assault charge, accused of striking a woman in the head with a baton after a demonstration in the summer of 2020.
Before the team resigned, city-hired consultants said court-ordered extra training for the team turned out to be “overall disappointing” and led by an instructor who at times “appeared dismissive” of the judge’s ruling.
The meme "is only coming to light because plaintiffs stood up to the City and sued them,” said attorney Juan Chavez, one of the lawyers representing Don’t Shoot Portland.