Oregon patrolman reassigned after calling black activists 'fools'

Reuters News
|
Posted: Nov 25, 2015 3:17 PM

By Shelby Sebens

PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) - The Portland Police Bureau has taken a white patrolman off street duty after he complained on Twitter that a planned protest by Black Lives Matter civil rights activists would make him stay late at work to "babysit these fools."

Officer John Hurlman was referring to calls by protest organizers for shoppers to forgo Black Friday deals and instead show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, which grew out of anger over recent police killings of unarmed black men.

"Black Lives Matter is planning a protest at Lloyd Center on Black Friday," Hurlman wrote on Twitter. "Oh joy. Stuck late again at work to babysit these fools."

Portland's Acting Police Chief Donna Henderson said in a statement on Tuesday that Hurlman was reassigned to unspecified duties while the city's Professional Standards Division reviews the incident.

"This post is in no way a reflection on how members of the Portland Police Bureau view these community groups or their peaceful expression of free speech," Henderson said.

"We understand that tensions are running high across the United States ... (and) we are mindful of that and remain committed to building relationships and trust in the community we serve." 

Hurlman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Teressa Raiford, lead organizer of activist group Don't Shoot Portland, said the officer's comment was "indicative of what we've been saying in the community about the social culture of the police bureau. We are discriminated against."

"It's just helpful when they show themselves," Raiford said.

(Reporting by Shelby Sebens in Portland, Oregon; Editing by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle, Bernard Orr in New York)