PDX Protest — Return of the Suck
It’s been one year, to the day, since Officer Derek Chauvin, of the Minneapolis Police Department, knelt on the neck of Black man George Floyd for nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds, murdering him in cold blood for buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill.
Say his name.
I promised myself I would write something today. I’ve wanted to write something for months. But I haven’t felt up to it. Haven’t felt capable of doing any of this justice. Still don’t. But hell, I never did. The only way I managed to publish a single word last year was by letting myself suck. Letting you see me suck.
So, don’t get your hopes up. Don’t expect to like what I write. I suck at it. But you suck, too. In some way. It’s ok; we all do. Nobody’s perfect. We’re all swine, here. You’re in good company.
Enough about me.
Protests didn’t really fizzle over the fall and winter, nor quite stagnate. More of a slowing. They stopped being nightly at some point, but still regular. Frequency has picked up as the weather got nicer. Events have diversified, too. In addition to your average black-bloc, rail-at-cops, no-peace-police, no-megaphones, no-livestreamers autonomous direct actions, the last month has brought zinefests, swap meets, marches, educational speeches, and more. Something for everybody. One would hope. Though it doesn’t always work out that way.
Because the escalation hasn’t stopped either. It similarly slowed over the winter, but didn’t stagnate. Where broken windows were once an occasional occurrence, it now happens at basically every direct action. The insults have intensified. Right-wing rallies are more frequent. I saw a Trump-flagged pickup truck attacked on sight, its window broken by a thrown rock. (It was almost amusing to watch leftist twitter insist, based on one low-resolution video, that the dude had broken his own window while driving by. I’ve seen sledgehammers bounce off of tempered glass, yo. You’re not going to accomplish with a six-inch swing of your elbow what a weak sledgehammer blow cannot. A better video that came out later—one where you could see the damn rock—put that particular conspiracy theory to rest. Apparently the words of respected journalists was not sufficient.)
It’s actually getting harder to keep a digital eye on the actions, these days. Press are not super welcome anymore. Streaming and posting timely videos and photos is hella disliked. Cops scrub Twitter both in the moment and after the fact to identify protesters for later arrest, kinda like what’s happened with folks who stormed the US Capitol on January 6th. So there’s a lot of distrust of cameras at direct actions. At its worst, this culminated in the assault of Justin Yau by protesters who thought this Asian-American indie journalist was conservative video thief and bullshit-spinner make-believe “journalist” Andy Ngo. At another action, highly respected antifascist journalist @johnnthelefty was also assaulted. Boy was the old-school anarchist scene not happy about that one.
Point is that my view of the moment-to-moment protesting is fuzzy and lacking anymore. And what I do get is often from journalistic newbies like myself rather than seasoned pillars with national bylines. Folks with less… discipline. And so as much as I would like to hold the cops accountable for the shitty shit they are doing, the info is just seldom there for me to pull from. There was a report the other night of the feds at ICE pre-emptively watering their driveway to inhibit fires. There was hours of hanging back at the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office’s Penumbra Kelly building one night while a few protesters threw rocks through several windows. When the incident commander did finally give the order to disperse them, it was like letting ravenous dogs off-leash, and you could tell they’d just been chomping at the bit to crack some skulls that whole time, but that’s when the reporting stopped. Maybe all that can be said has already been said, but it doesn’t help me track change.
There’s a little more first-hand reporting when it’s citizens-on-citizens, like when a frustrated right-winger gets frustrated by a parade blocking the street and stubbornly tries to creep his way through. The typical response here is to surround the vehicle so that it doesn’t hit anybody, which I don’t really understand. Seems like standing in front of a vehicle and pointing guns at it is a terrible way to keep people from getting hit.
Oh yeah, marches often have armed security these days. Even the ones touted as non-violent. One of the scariest things I’ve seen yet was a man with his concealed-carry .38 special pulled on three men with assault rifles trained on him. Someone tackled him to the ground and disarmed him, calling him a Nazi and accusing him of trying to kill people on no evidence at all. The camera pulled away and stopped filming as a dogpile beat the shit out of him, breaking five ribs and a collarbone.
A couple dozen gunshots were heard in Minneapolis this morning, at the setup for a family-friendly event to honor George Floyd. (Say his name.) The AP and ABC both caught this on film.
Christian Science Monitor (an unexpectedly solid and unbiased news source) reported in 2015 that 77% of shots fired in a self-defense situation miss their target. A store window at the site of this morning’s gunshots was found broken. A man was taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound. That’s all I know at the moment.
Back in Portland, sadistic shitbag cop John Oliphant was clocked by a protester one night. Mayor Ted Wheeler made a statement encouraging vigilante surveillance. “Let’s make them hurt a little.”A fight broke out between the armed security at a march organized by the remnants of Rose City Justice that was supposed to be family-friendly and a black bloc that swooped in with chants of “AK-47, send the cops to piggy heaven.” A couple of anarchists released an Anonymous-style video making an implied threat on Wheeler’s life, complete with voice distortion and Guy-Fawkes mask. “Blood is already on your hands. Next time, it might just be your own.”
Internet antifascists are executing honeypots through fake White Lives Matter groups in order to doxx white supremacists. Internet anti-antifascists are disrupting the scene through viral, fabricated accounts of prominent antifascists being abusive, casting chaos on actual stories of abusive antifascists.
And literally every single faction of the left accusing the Other of being divisive and doing the cops’ work for them.
Maybe every single faction is.
It’s hard to keep the bitterness from creeping. It’s been a whole fucking year, and Black people don’t seem any less likely to be killed by out-of-control cops than they were when Derek Chauvin suffocated George Floyd in front of Cup Foods for fucking nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds. (Say his name.) And they seem to be more at risk of being killed by fed-up white supremacists than they were then.
I hear there’s a lot of good police-reform bills in the Oregon legislature right now. There’s fuck all happening in Portland governement besides escalating sweeps of homeless encampments. A couple of states are eliminating qualified immunity, which is really good. But none of it’s going to be enough. No amount of reform will quell the unrest of abolitionists who believe policing is beyond reform. Will soothe the post-traumatic hypervigilance and reality-distortion of hundreds of people who were beaten by police for months on end. All it will do is stabilize the middle majority who cling to hope in this failed experiment of a nation, so that the economy holds together for as long as possible, and when the increasingly violent fringe finally shatter this country to pieces, it will catch everybody that much more off-guard.
Fuck proofreading. I am so fucking tired. Let it suck. Fucking swine.