Police union demands accountability after Occupy Portland march - KPTV - FOX 12

Police union demands accountability after Occupy Portland march

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The union representing Portland police officers says last night's protest is a clear signal that things are getting out of control, and the union is demanding the police commissioner be held accountable.

Daryl Turner, union president, says he is very concerned officers and citizens will get hurt if large protests like the one held Wednesday night are allowed to continue.

Turner says at Wednesday's protest, a police sergeant was pushed into a moving TriMet bus. The sergeant from central precinct was not hurt, and fellow officers later arrested David Burgess, 30, on a charge of assaulting a public safety officer.

During the protest, several marchers refused to obey police orders and took over the streets. At one point, police say, the protesters blocked parts of the Hawthorne Bridge, forcing it to be temporarily closed.

Turner says police commissioner Mayor Sam Adams, who tweeted Thursday morning that violence wouldn't be tolerated during Occupy marches, must make a decision on how future protests are handled.

"We're going to hold the police commissioner accountable if any police officer or citizen gets hurt," Turner says. 

The union says it was unhappy with the direction the march took yesterday, and that things appeared to be out of control with officers struggling to keep up with protesters. 

SLIDESHOW: Protesters march across bridge

Police spokesperson Pete Simpson says the bureau shares the union's concerns about the endangerment of marchers and officers.

"We are concerned with the tone at (last night's) march," Simpson says. "It's not about the original Occupy movement any more."

He says the protest on Wednesday consisted of a strong "anti-police" message.

"We know there are people who want to exercise their first amendment right, but we also know there are people there who want to have a confrontation with police," Simpson says.

Simpson says this was the first time he had heard about the union's complaint on how things were handled. He says after every protest the command staff meets to debrief to see how they can improve.

A spokeswoman for Adams' office says the mayor was in continual contact Wednesday night regarding the protest "with an eye toward ensuring officers protected people's right to free speech, while keeping the city moving as smoothly as possible."

Adams also issued a statement, stressing the importance of Occupy Portland protesters working with the city and sharing information about their march route.

"When we do not have this information or marches are unpermitted, police will be asking participants to stay on sidewalks and obey all traffic laws," Adams says.

MAYOR'S STATEMENT: Occupy Portland needs to work with city, Mayor says

Simpson says the large protests like Wednesday's put everyone at risk and says the bureau is thankful no large-scale confrontations have flared up.

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