“Having Enough Police Matters.” So declares a billboard that’s part of a new recruitment campaign by the Portland Police Association (PPA). In the Southwest Salmon Street location, it is half a block from the First Unitarian Church and a “Black Lives Matter” banner that has been displayed there for the last year.
That’s spurred the protest of the “Don’t Shoot PDX” and “Black Lives Matter” organizations. As “Don’t Shoot PDX” member Teressa Raiford told GoLocal, “It’s not just the police. It’s Mayor Charlie Hales and it’s all of them who keep using that line, that ‘something matters.’ They understand what they are doing. They are mocking us as we fight for our lives. Their use of that language is absolutely sickening. We are using it to fight for an end of police violence and police brutality. They are using it to fight for more police.”
PPA president Daryl Turner told Willamette Week, “The locations are all random. They were picked by the company. It had to do with the availability of the spaces.”
Still, Portland Mercury felt it was a strange choice for the very first of these billboards to have gone up. In discussing the matter with Stacey Dycus, a communications professional assisting the PPA, Mercury reporter Shelby R. King was told, “No one has seen the billboards because the campaign is brand new starting this week. The locations were selected at random based on availability from the billboard company.”
Turner told Go Local, “We didn’t do it to have any similarities. We really based this decision on the graphics that were available for us to use and the space allotted on the billboard.”
Nonetheless, Portland Mercury points out Turner has claimed before that “Black Lives Matter” causes a “culture of hatred toward law enforcement nationwide.”
Complicating matters, Reverend Kate Lore of the First Unitarian Church says she’s had to call the police the last three Sundays due to antagonistic protesters who are against gay rights, female clergy, and the “Black Lives Matter” campaign. This includes a protester one weekend who created a panic in her congregation.
This comes months after the Charleston church shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., where a black congregation was specifically targeted for their race. That such threats also come on the heels of the shooting at Umpqua Community College only exacerbates matters. And yet, Lore says, “We’ve asked for police help, but they’ve never come.”
According to Turner, the PPA recruitment campaign is the result of the Portland Police Bureau being understaffed by 700 officers. Combined with the impending retirement of 300 officers over the next five years, Turner says the department will be too understaffed to deal with future gang threats.
“Black Lives Matter” is an activist movement that’s risen to oppose police brutality, particularly as a consequence of police violence that’s resulted in the killing of black citizens.
National news organizations such as Fox News have used shootings of police as evidence that organizations like “Black Lives Matter” are simply fronts for an organized war on police. This disagrees with statistics that show 2015 is on pace to be one of the safest years for law enforcement in the last 25 years.