Black and Blue in Albina, pt 2: The Burger Barn opossums on Union Avenue

On the night of March 12, 1981, Officers Craig Ward and Jim Galloway dumped four dead opossums on the doorstep of the Burger Barn, a popular black-owned restaurant on Union Avenue. Witnesses to the incident saw four patrol cars pull up to the restaurant and claimed seven officers were involved in dumping the dead animals. Black community organizations responded with press conferences and marches denouncing the police actions as racially motivated harassment. Burger Barn owner George Powe believed it was part of a larger campaign of harassment intended to drive customers away from his business. “You would think the police would have better things to do,” Powe remarked. Jordan and Police Chief Bruce Baker urged patience and calm while the Internal Affairs Division investigated the incident. BUF and other community organizations demanded the officers be fired and described the Internal Affairs investigation as being akin to “asking a hungry dog to guard a meathouse.” On March 25, 1981, protestors marched, calling for the firing of all of the officers involved in the incident, the formation of a civilian review board, and better training and supervision of the police. Responding to intense public pressure, Jordan fired Ward and Galloway on March 26, 1981; none of the other officers received any reprimand. Ward and Galloway continued to claim that the incident was not racially motivated; they merely wanted to “relieve stress.”

In response to the firing, Peters organized an emergency PPA meeting. The union took a no-confidence vote against Jordan and Baker, circulated a petition calling for Jordan’s removal as police commissioner, and organized a rally to support Ward and Galloway.

On April 3, 1981, one thousand police and supporters marched in a “Cops Have Rights Too” rally. The PPA contended that the firing of Ward and Galloway was politically motivated.

The PPA’s newsletter, The Rap Sheet, said that as the incident wore on it was
clear the city was willing to “throw a pound of flesh to the wolves” and Jordan had decided to “throw the entire carcass to just satisfy their howling.” After Ward and Galloway lost their jobs, the PPA hired them to work for the union with equivalent salaries and filed a grievance against the Police Bureau, protesting the firing of the two officers…. [22-3]

From Black and Blue: Policy Community Relations in Portland’s Albina District, 1964-1985, by Leanne C. Serbulo and Karen J. Gibson

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