Portland has been in the national spotlight for our Black Lives Matter protests, which ran 104 consecutive days. Last night, which would’ve been 105, there were no protests due to the wildfires surrounding Portland at the moment, creating and air quality index in the upper 200s and even well over 300. In other words, hazardous. Our mayor/police commissioner Ted Wheeler declared a state of emergency and urged people to stay inside. The sky outside is orange, and it has been for the past 3 days. The smoke hanging in the air gives everything, indoors and out, a hazy look, and it has completely blocked out the sun.
Sadly, this break in the 104 consecutive-day protests comes on the heels of several public opinion articles and a poll showing that most Oregon voters think the protests are doing more harm than good and that the police aren’t using enough force. Although there have been mumbling of this in online communities—even amongst protester groups—over the past couple of months, that opinion has grown with the National coverage Portland has received, both due to the Federal Occupation in July as well as the recent murder of a far-right protester standing up against the BLM movement by a self-proclaimed Antifa activist.
More on that murder as well as the murders of BLM protesters by an armed teenager in Kenosha, WI at the end of August on tomorrow’s edition of The Daily Rose.
Last Sunday on September 6, the editors at The Oregonian wrote an editorial. I couldn’t read it in one sitting, as it made me so angry. The headline was “End The Violence.” Since this is a very progressive city in a fairly progressive blue state, I thought it was going to be about the rampant, unchecked police violence the protesters have endured for 104 nights, with only 3 or 4 days without incident. That’s 100 nights of police violence since the George Floyd murder.
Unfortunately, the subtitle of the article proved my assumption wrong. It reads: ‘In this overheated moment (after the murder of Proud Boy Aaron “Jay” Danielson), the nightly demonstrations are no longer helping the Black Lives Matter movement or the city.”
I blew a gasket, so I had to put the article down before reading more.
Then the first line continues, “Portland, it’s time to stand down.”
Gasket blown once again.
I disagree. The murder was horrific, and it was also inevitable once the Proud Boys (an alt-right white supremacist group that frequents Portland to counter progressive protesters) descended on Portland with their Trump Parade. They were armed. They were shooting marbles out of paintball guns directly at BLM protesters as they drove down the street in Downtown Portland. They were spraying them with mace from the backs of their trucks. They were zooming into crowds, trying to run them down.
The police, who are usually so in-the-face of the BLM protesters, arbitrarily declaring a “riot” or “unlawful assembly” before beginning their nightly brutality, stood on the sidelines and did nothing. They watched. The weekend before the murder also had a Proud Boy counterprotest against the BLM activists, and once again the police did nothing as the Proud Boys attacked people in downtown Portland. As soon as the *armed* Proud Boys left, the police declared an unlawful assembly and began their nightly violence against the *unarmed* BLM protesters themselves.
The reason behind the BLM protests is to stand against police brutality, especially killing Black People, but the police continue to violate our First Amendment Rights every night answering the call to end police brutality with more police brutality.
The public by and large don’t get to see this. They hear cries of “domestic terrorists” and “violent extremists” from the president and his supporters much more often than they see actual videos from the front lines that clearly depict the severity and frequency of this police violence…. Thus public opinion has swayed against the protesters.
Today, the Epoch Times, OPB, and Oregon Live, among others, reported on the poll denouncing the protests and supporting the police. It pains me to read these things because I’ve seen first hand what happens out there on the ground. I also follow independent journalists who stream live every night and post videos on Twitter about what’s really happening out there. Please see my blog for links to these articles and some of the independent journalists’ Twitter accounts so you can see for yourselves.
The local, state, and national news rarely use any of these videos, although they’ve used some, but the general population only see these videos sporadically or read an article about the kidnappings, assaults, and chemical weapons used against the protesters, which cause them to think this police violence is happening far less than they are, which is every single night, save 2 or 3 in 104 nights of protests.
On the other hand, the “violence” by the BLM protesters are greatly exaggerated, because that violence sells. Non-violence, dancing, and chanting isn’t interesting enough for the news. Besides, the relatively small amount of protester “violence” is more accurately “vandalism,” as it’s directed at property, not people. The police violence is directed at non-violent, unarmed protesters. Almost without variation, police attack not the few agitators setting the fires or shooting fireworks, but rather those doing nothing other than exercising their First Amendment rights.
To speak out against the protesters is to speak out against the Constitution. These men and women were out there risking their safety every night for over three months because they wanted to see an end to Police Violence, but the police met such calls with even more police violence. When you watch the videos, you will see just how unprovoked and shocking their actions are.
My video goes much more into this than I can here, as it shows supporting video and photographic evidence of this unprovoked brutality that continued up through Tuesday night, day 103. Be warned, the violence is graphic and disturbing.
To say the protesters should stop and go home, to say they “deserve” such brutality is not victim-blaming rhetoric, the same kind used by abusers and oppressors, these words quite literally mean you’re standing against what it means to be an American Citizen—you are condemning the essence of the United States Constitution.
SOURCES & RESEARCH
Today several publications ran a story on how the majority of Oregon voters think the protests should end and that the police aren’t using enough force to control them. Articles appeared in Oregon Live, OPB, and The Epoch News, to cite a few. Last Sunday, an editorial in The Oregonian said the same. (Here’s a brilliant response by Mac Smiff taking those editors to task.)
Sergio Olmos: @mrolmos
Laura Jedeed: @misanthrophile
Zane Sparling: @PDXzane
Cory Elia: @TheRealCoryElia
To track police brutality across the country, please follow Greg Doucette (@greg_doucette), who’s been documenting videos of police brutality for months. As of today, he’s documented over 900 videos.