Even people who are coming out (recently) to the Portland Protests are posting a lot of misinformation. The perspective in this report is interesting. But, the information is accurate only to the extent of the limited view of someone who didn’t show up until the feds did. So, I offer corrections and clarifications from someone who has been paying attention for 62 days (that’s right, today is day 62), not the 25 days since the Feds arrived:
1) The protests are confined to a 2 block radius around the courthouse, and if you’re 4 blocks away, you can’t tell anything has been happening. There is nothing going on outside of that region, and Portland is functioning as normally as the Pandemic will allow. It is not burning, nor is it out of control.
If you’re within a several block radius of the (in)Justice Center/Federal Courthouse you may be aware of the protests because a) the police routinely shut down hundreds of blocks the downtown core meaning if you attempt to leave your home or business you could be arrested; b) people many blocks away report hearing (and being terrified of) the exploding munitions regularly used against the protesters by police and federal agents; c) people (residents and business) outside that two-block radius report their buildings are seriously impacted by teargas and its residue (especially since the Federal government apparently has an unlimited supply and releases obscene amounts every night).
2) The protesters are absolutely peaceful at the Protests that I have been part of, and with the exception of graffiti, are completely within their constitutional rights to protest. The protests involve singing, chanting, and have used “white walls” to block whites who are trying to disrupt or corrupt the protests. Yes, cursing is rather commonplace. More than ½ of the protesters are white. All are protesting for Black Lives Matter, although the entrance of the federal paramilitary force has brought out a lot of people, including myself, who are incensed at the use of unregulated federal force against law abiding citizen and against the will of the state and local governments.
It needs to be understood by those outside Portland (and Oregon) that the reason the protesters appear to be mostly white is because Oregon has only a very small percentage of Black people. However, there are also non-black POC on the front lines every day including Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and mixed race, white-appearing folks.
3) ALL of the protesters are wearing masks to minimize transmission of CoV-2. However, as at times there are 1000 or more of us, it is hard (though not impossible) to maintain social distancing. When the federal paramilitary force is deployed, it becomes impossible.
Often the protesters will remove their masks when they’re speaking to the group. These are always the photos you see in mainstream media, even though they put them back on when they’re done. However, it’s important to understand that except for gas masks, the majority of law enforcement agents do not wear masks. They also routinely pull masks off protesters to spray chemical agents in their faces. Cops/feds are using tear gas which makes people cough, vomit, and spit — in the middle of a pandemic transmitted through those means. When they arrest protesters, they’re deprived of their masks and taken to a jail which has no sanitation or other means to avoid the virus.
4. The Police responded unprovoked and were brutal, but nothing like the paramilitary force. There is a court order that forbids the police to use teargas. I was not there when it was just the police.
Nothing the federal agents are doing is worse than what the police were doing for more than a month before the feds showed up. The primary difference is court orders required the police to declare a riot (the temporary restraining order stated cops couldn’t use tear gas unless there was a riot, so the cops now routinely claim a riot is in process whether or not anyone is doing anything remotely like “rioting”) and the Feds don’t bother. The police were also required to warn people before firing tear gas which the Feds don’t do. Otherwise, there is no difference in their behavior. People are saying there is a difference because those people didn’t show up to be brutalized by the cops. They didn’t take offense until the Feds arrived. As I stated earlier, the Police were forced by civilian authorities to “warn” before attacking. But their attacks were no less brutal, unwarranted, or capricious.
5. At the protests I have attended, I did not witness any unlawfulness on the part of the protesters. Each time, the federal paramilitary personnel launched an apparently unprovoked attack. There have been no “riots.” The federal paramilitary force has had no training in crowd control, has no oversight, was not invited to Portland by local leadership, does not have any form of identification do not wear name badges, and wears military camo. They are heavily armed with flash-bang grenades, less-lethal bullets, pepper bullets, pepper spray and tear gas. They will pull goggles off of protesters and spray pepper spray into their eyes. They used a baton to beat a US Navy vet, broke his hand and sprayed pepper spray in his eyes because he asked why they weren’t honoring their vow to protect the constitution. During the assault, he stood still and did not resist until blinded by the pepper spray, he turned around and walked away. The “line of mothers” on Sunday was gassed and shot with less-lethal bullets for chanting Black Lives Matter. At least one was pregnant. A protester holding a sign up with both hands was shot in the head with a “non-lethal” bullet and will likely have permanent brain damage. While I have not personally seen this, there are videos of people being kidnapped into unmarked vans by the federal paramilitaries as they left the protests, held for a couple of days, interrogated, then released without charges or explanation. At this time, re-read my first two points. The protests are no threat to Portland and only encompass a 2 block area. They have been peaceful, with graffiti as the only illegal activity. They are well controlled and supported by a cross section of Portlanders. There is no reason for the federal government to be involved, and the excessive force being used appears to be nothing more than a political show of force against US Citizens by the Trump administration.
There have been riots every night. The police have rioted. The federal agents have rioted. The protesters have not rioted. They have been the victims of rioting on the part of “law enforcement” bullies.
All of the weapons listed as being used by the federal agents, also have been used by the police almost every single night until the feds showed up and took over. The police covered their names and hid their badge numbers. The police beat plenty of veterans (including women). But they were Black, Indigenous, and Latiné so the mainstream media didn’t find their stories worthy of coverage. A police “officer” jammed their club into the stomach of a pregnant woman early in the protests. Again, it wasn’t covered because she wasn’t white.
The protester listed as “holding up a sign” who will have permanent brain damage was holding a boom box over his head, not even a sign. He was playing music. But numerous people were shot in the head by police (in Portland and elsewhere around the country) before the Feds showed up.
6. About 3000 protesters showed up last night (July 21); all with masks, very well behaved. Certainly no chaos, no violence on the part of the protesters. I left at 10:30, the paramilitary attacked at 12:30. I spent an hour talking to the medics. They say they are being targeted by the paramilitary personnel. They are often the first to be shot at and tear gassed. When they try to help an injured protester, the paramilitary personnel throw flash-bangs and tear gas at them (they carry gas masks). One of them was beaten, dragged away from the injured person they were treating and arrested. They are from OHSU as well as Portland Fire.
Not only are the medics (and journalists and legal observers) being specifically attacked by police and federal agents, but their supplies are being destroyed. This would be a violation of international law (as would tear gas) if these troops were in another country. Let that sink in. If this were another country the behavior reported would be war crimes. The medics Dr. Roberts spoke with are volunteers from OHSU, but OHSU is not sending them out. Also, they are by no means the only medics on the ground.
7. The Elk statue was taken down by the Police to “protect” it, but the Elk statue was a favorite of the protesters because it was uncontroversial; so they got a blow-up elk and put it where the real statue used to stand. It’s sort of a rallying point.”
This should concern, if not terrify, all of us. This is an unidentified and unaccountable federal police presence attacking American citizens who are not violating any federal laws. This is literally how the “secret police” in other authoritarian regimes began. The comparison to the early stages of Nazi Germany is NOT AN EXAGGERATION anymore.
The Elk statue was taken down by the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), not the police, for its protection. Because this is Portland, the Elk statue has its own twitter account as does the “sacred” fence that once surrounded the (in)Justice center and now surrounds the federal courthouse.
We are not in the “early stages of Nazi Germany”. We are well past the early stages and in full on fascism. It may even be too late to stop, because this didn’t start with the federal occupation of Portland. It started with police brutality and violence against Black, Indigenous, and other non-white people across the country.
Silence is complacency. Please share this post. Please spread this information. Please get involved. Do not allow or condone this conduct by our federal government. I don’t care which political party you support, this is an affront to the U.S. Constitution and the founding principals of our nation.
Silence is not complacency it is collaboration and complicity.
And, it’s only an “affront to the U.S. Constitution” now that white people are also victims. Because Black, Indigenous, and other non-white people have been enduring this violence and brutality since before the Constitution was written and the “founding principals (sic) of our nation” are white supremacy, racism, and misogyny, all written into the U.S. Constitution before amended. Make no mistake, the “great again” that the GOP wants to return to is before all those amendments were ratified.