The city of Portland revealed Friday that it had discovered an “offensive” and “unauthorized” slide appended to a presentation meant to train Portland police on riot control.
The meme depicts an officer with a raised fist, apparently in the act of beating of a long-haired citizen. The overlaid text reads:
And the Lord said…
Woe be unto you, dirty hippy;
For thou stinketh of patchouli and BO;
For thou talk of Marx, yet know him not;
For thou has bills, yet have not paid;
For thou has dreadlocks and white skin.
And so I shall send among you,
My humble servants with hat, and with bat;
That they may christen your heads with hickory,
An 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 am tired of your shit.
The image — cataloged at Know Your Meme as the “Prayer of the Alt-Knight” — is again stirring controversy about the practices of the notorious Portland Police Bureau, which recorded more than 6,000 uses of force while policing racial justice protests in the summer of 2020.
The Bureau is currently under supervision by the Department of Justice, which blasted the Portland police last May for its unconstitutional reliance on violence and a leadership that “portrays all force as justified.”
The training slide was released Friday afternoon by the office of mayor (and police commissioner) Ted Wheeler, who said: “I am disgusted that this offensive content was added to a training presentation for our police officers.” Wheeler added: “The Portland Police Bureau must reject the harmful and divisive attitude expressed in that slide.”
The slide was discovered last September, the mayor’s office said, while preparing for litigation filed against the city. The slide prompted an Internal Affairs investigation, and it had not been made public earlier in order to protect the integrity of that ongoing probe, the mayor’s office said. The slide is being released now in advance of it becoming public in an expected court filing.
The mayor’s office — despite having had months to investigate — could not say who added the slide to the presentation, nor when, or even how or if it was shown to officers. While the exact provenance of the slide remains unclear, its links to the “Alt-Knights” has troubling implications. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Fraternal Order of the Alt-Knights the “tactical defense arm” of the Proud Boys.
The image comes at the end of a slide deck titled “Protests & Riots” that runs 110 slides. The presentation covers subjects like impact munitions and officer formations that are effective in controlling crowds. One slide is titled “Iron Fist in the Velvet Glove” and describes keeping riot cops out of sight, on standby, “to avoid unnecessarily provoking the crowd.”
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell released a statement calling the message of the slide “contrary to PPB’s values,” adding that it 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.”
Local civil rights activists pointed to the slide not as an aberration, but as a revelation of PPB’s true views of the protesters they’re tasked with policing:
Four years of gaslighting Portlanders later the transparent truth emerges.
— Zakir Khan (@ZakirSpeaks) January 14, 2022
Both Lovell and Wheeler said they could make no further statements about the controversy, owing to the ongoing nature of the investigation.
For more on the troubled Portland Police Bureau, read our 2000 report: “Progressive City, Brutal Police.”