Veteran who was harassed by Antifa over flag: Portland cops in 'mass exodus' over lack of support

Gabriel Johnson says he was chased by protesters with bats at 2020 Antifa riots

Retired Marine Corps officer Gabriel Johnson argued on "Fox & Friends" on Tuesday that many police officers in Portland, Ore., are leaving the department because "they are not supported."

In July, living only a block away from the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse in downtown Portland, which has become an epicenter of violence in the city, Johnson marched into the chaos carrying his American flag.

He told Fox News at the time, "I was being called the N-word by Black people. People were chasing me around with baseball bats."

He said he also witnessed a 65-year-old Black veteran attempt to stop the burning of Johnson’s flag, only to be beaten by alleged Black Lives Matter protesters.

On Tuesday he told host Ainsley Earhardt, "I was actually kind of surprised because I was greeted with this hatred, hatred for the American flag and for what it stands for and for me, it was really a symbol of justice and a uniting symbol that people should remember to bring us back together."

He added that "people in the city really have lost a sense of community and the community for everyone including the officers that are out there serving night in and night out."

ANTIFA ATTACKS PORTLAND POLICE UNION

Late last year, Portland’s police department said it received an "unprecedented" number of officers leaving their jobs midcareer to take lower-paying jobs elsewhere — and on Sunday the city’s main newspaper published an article offering a glimpse into the reasons why many decided to leave.

The Oregonian reported that a total of 115 officers have left the department since July 1, 2020, representing "one of the biggest waves of departures in recent memory."

The paper said it reviewed 31 exit interview statements from these officers that showed a certain level of disillusion with the job. A retiring detective reportedly wrote in one that the community showed officers "zero support."

"The city council are raging idiots, in addition to being stupid. Additionally, the mayor and council ignore actual facts on crime and policing in favor of radical leftist and anarchist fantasy. What’s worse is ppb command (lt. and above) is arrogantly incompetent and cowardly."

Johnson reiterated that sentiment saying he believes "the massive exodus" is due to the lack of support.

"We knew going into the new year that we were going to have a massive retirement, but now what we’re seeing is a massive exodus and I think it's purely just from the way that they are not supported," he said. 

"This is one of the only cities in America where you can actually throw Molotov cocktails at police officers and expect them not to do anything, but what we’ve seen in return from them is professionalism. These folks have stood there. They have taken it."

"They’re human just like us and believe me it does affect them," he continued.

Portland, Oregon, was the center of some of the country’s most destructive protests in 2020, which coincided with the city’s largest jump in homicides in 26 years, according to the paper. KOIN reported that the homicide rate in the city continues to be high and detectives are having a challenging time keeping up with the workflow.

The city experienced 55 killings in 2020 and the paper pointed out that the victims ranged from eight months to 71 years old.

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A spokesperson for the Portland Police Department and the city did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. However, Ted Wheeler, the city’s mayor and therefore head of its police department, told the Oregonian in an email that the city has a "laser focus on building a better public safety system."

"And, as we pursue change to meet Portlanders’ needs and expectations, we must focus on support and care for our employees."

Fox News’ Edmund DeMarche, Teny Sahakian and The Associated Press contributed to this report.