PDX Protest — Days 45-46
The scariest moment, hands down, was when someone set a burning piece of plywood against the wooden walls boarding up the US Courthouse. Thank goodness other protesters were pissed off at this and pulled it away, throwing it in one of the five large but contained fires that were roaring.
It’s a miracle it didn’t bring the feds out. It really should have. But based on prior evidence, so should have all the trespassing, graffiti, the guy kicking at their boarded door, and the dude who straight peed on it.
But it didn’t. None of it did. It was technically a very calm night. Tensions were sky-high because of how fucked up Saturday was, but hours of warm bonfires, free ribs, and a skillful trumpet playing along to ACAB chants offered reasonable comfort to frayed nerves.
The unpredictability of LEO response has been one of the more frustrating parts of all this. It seems like they’re gonna let you get away with so much, until they snap, blanket two blocks in CS gas, and arrest you for as little as being on their sidewalk. And then they let you pee on their door the next night. It’s a mindfuck.
PPB finally came to clear it out late into the morning. Not sure why. They claimed it was smoke drifting into the the Justice Center, but the fires had been going all night. Maybe the wind shifted or something. Or maybe it was just an excuse.
Their presence upped tensions briefly, but I heard no use-of-force reports. People just dispersed. Maybe the feds actually put some Fear into them.
I’m far from the only one out there who thinks fucking with feds is foolish, and last night was a testament as PNWYLF led a march from Kenton Park to the Portland Police Association (police union) building on N Lombard. It was announced mostly word of mouth, and actually seemed to catch the cops off guard a little bit.
The PPA is a unique place to protest, as I learned, because unlike the precincts, the building is private property, which means the city does not pay for any repairs to it. (Presumably the city also is not paying Kennedy Restoration for the sudden boarding-up job they did in the midst of last night, but I don’t know how Kennedy is getting paid. It might not be on a job-to-job basis.) While I’ve mentioned how I don’t like the idea of bringing police brutality down on Black neighborhoods, I can understand the appeal of the location beyond just the symbolism.
The thing I do like about the NoPo protests, though, is my favorite LRAD DJ, come to be known, for some reason, and LBRAD. You get such gems as him calling out individuals by their “Peach colored shirt,” stumbling over words, or false starts where he just announces that “This is the Portland Police Bureau,” and nothing more. Hands-down the best LRAD announcement came from the night of the North Precinct occupation attempt: “You! Li– lighting the fire! Committing the… crime of that is… likely to incur use of force to include impact munitions. Leave now.” And who could forget the wonderful “The other way! Go.. the other.. way!”
In general, the whole night was a lot more familiar, with water bottles, squeaky pig toys, and excessive use of batons, and a Black man blocked from entering his home. An officer slapped a phone out of a protesters hand, sending it through a window of the PPA without a board in front of it yet. It was not immediately apparent to the Incident Commander what had happened, so a riot was declared and the crowd was pushed east and then north with OC gas and heavy force. You almost got the impression everyone missed it a little. Protesters included, with several comments on Twitter this morning about how the pigs ain’t shit compared to the feds.
Feds never showed, by the way. I, in fact, have no idea what happened downtown.
Favorite moment was seeing a cop join in the local cheer when a protester succeeded in getting a flipped water bottle to land upright.
Most uncomfortable moment was seeing a distraught white mother in a sundress with two framed pictures of her son plead with officers not to escalate the night.
Rose City Justice is back from their three-day nature retreat at North Fork 53’s “Spirit Healing Center,” where they received “equity training, sensitivity training, boundary training,” and got schooled on the history of Black and Indigenous oppression and activism in America by Black Resilience Fund cofounder Cameron Whitten. They are now educated, focused, and full of the intention to network with other local activist organizations to push themselves and the movement forward.
I’ve finally realized what I like so little about their communication style. It’s the grandiose emptyspeak of politics. So many feelgood words arranged in a way that says so very little. I don’t know why I didn’t recognize it sooner. Maybe because they’re so bad at it. Do they realize how much the words “spirit healing center” drip of west-coast white-privilege trustafarianism? Do they realize just how deep a hole they dug themselves into by giving Darren the Ex-Cop such a lead role? Do they realize that the “there will be no justice until there is peace” that they posted before their retreat is neither what “no justice no peace” means nor what anyone in the streets of Portland wants to hear right now?
The proof is in the pudding, though, and there is a huge need for pressure coming from the political sphere. The couple hundred people applying physical pressure in clashes with the police have been amazingly resilient, but from within politics we’ve only got, like, Commissioner Hardesty and Representative Kotek, and neither has managed to squeeze even the greasiest shit out of Wheeler. Just a flatulent “As the Mayor of Portland, I’m calling on anyone but myself to do anything. Please.”
They’re hosting their first march in weeks tonight, from Rev Hall to Pioneer Square. I think a night of infighting is inevitable. What will matter more is how they handle it. Lets hope all their rhetoric is more than just another fart but with flowers.