Portland, OR – Cowardly vandals destroyed a police memorial monument in Tom McCall Waterfront Park on Tuesday night, scratching out the names of 29 law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.
Portland Police Association (PPA) President Sergeant Aaron Schmautz wrote about the destroyed memorial in a Facebook post on Wednesday night.
“I learned tonight that at some point in the dark of night, the Police Memorial in Waterfront Park was destroyed,” Sgt. Schmautz wrote. “As a current member of Honor Guard, my heart is dismayed at such a cowardly and foolish act.”
Photos from the scene of the sprawling brick monument showed demolished plaques that had previously borne the names of each of the 29 fallen heroes.
“The Police Memorial stands as an enduring reminder of the ultimate sacrifice paid by heroes in Portland who gave their lives to defend strangers in our community,” Sgt. Schmautz said. “Each of these individuals are also etched on the wall of the national memorial in Washington DC.”
He described the destruction as both “startling and ugly,” not said he also recognizes “the foolishness and short sightedness” demonstrated by the perpetrators.
“Too many times we have seen these hidden provocateurs either shout their way into a room where real discussions occur or destroy property and injure others when their rhetoric broke down,” Sgt. Schmautz said. “This behavior is the cause of so many of the issues we face as a society. We must call it out for what it is: senseless, useless, criminal acts.”
The sergeant said the memorial is “a place of remembrance” that will be rebuilt and he called on the City of Portland to support and join in on that effort.
“The memory of those who are named there is ingrained in the very bedrock of our city. It is carried in the hearts and on every patch and badge worn by the officers who stand watch now, carrying on their mission,” Sgt. Schmautz added. “No foolish or cowardly act can change that. They will be remembered. Those who flit around in the shadows to destroy will not.”
The sergeant urged supporters to donate to the nonprofit Portland Police Historical Society, which manages and controls the museum and memorial.
The organization is not directly affiliated with the Portland Police Bureau (PPB).
“Please consider donating so that we can rebuild the Police Memorial,” Sgt. Schmautz wrote. “Real action must be taken to regain control of who we are as a society.”
PPB Chief Chuck Lovell said he was devastated to learn of the vandalism and that he is most saddened for the fallen officers’ families.
“This memorial honors heroes—people who had the courage to give their lives while serving the City of Portland. No amount of destruction can erase their legacy,” Chief Lovell told KPTV. “My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of the people named on the memorial. There are spouses, children, grandchildren and more who suffered greatly by the loss of their loved one. To see a cowardly act such as this done in an attempt to dishonor that memory is disgraceful.”
The Portland City Council said the memorial site was built nearly three decades ago, KPTV reported.
“The Portland City Council condemns the despicable vandalization of the Portland Police Memorial, a site that honors Portland Police Officers who died in the line of duty,” the council said. “The memorial has stood on Portland’s Waterfront Park for nearly 30 years in recognition of their service to Portlanders.”
“This ugly criminal act seeks only to fuel divisive and destructive rhetoric that is not representative of who we are as a city,” they wrote. “We at City Council will work together with the Portland Police Historical Society to ensure the memorial is restored. We recognize the hardworking public safety personnel who work to keep our community safe every day and honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
No arrests had been made as of Thursday.