Portland’s police chief ordered three officers on Monday to remove an image of the Oregon city’s police badge from their Facebook pages that had been altered to show support for a policeman who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.
“I was alerted to these images this morning and immediately ordered their removal through the officers’ chain of command. The image displayed does not represent this organization and was very inflammatory in nature,” Police Chief Mike Reese said in a statement.
A Missouri grand jury has made a decision on whether to indict white officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, a killing that sparked angry protests in the St. Louis suburb, prosecutors there said.
Communities across the country, including Portland, have been working for weeks to prepare for responses and public demonstrations following the grand jury decision, which will be announced later on Monday.
Reese has asked the Professional Standards Division of the Portland Police Bureau to review the matter for possible policy violations over the altered Oregon images, which showed the words “I am Darren Wilson” superimposed over the badge.
“Officers certainly have a right to have and express their opinions but not using an official badge of the Portland Police Bureau,” he said. “The badge represents all members of the organization, past and present, and is an important symbol in our community that must not be tarnished.”
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales released a statement saying the city had been working with community leaders and Portlanders on the issue of community and police relations as well as specific dialogue in preparation for reaction to the grand jury decision.
“The actions taken by these three officers here in Portland do not help get us to that goal,” Hales said in a statement.
(Reporting by Shelby Sebens; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Cooney)