PORTLAND, OR- We are in the middle of the third month of nightly protests in Portland with no end in sight, as demonstrators continue to vacate their basement dwellings and sacrificing their Hot Pockets to protest against…something.
It is honestly unknown how long this will last or in fact, exactly what these demonstrations are seeking to accomplish.
Most nights the demonstrations get more violent after dark, with some of the earlier events being somewhat peaceful.
For example on Tuesday, KOIN 6 reported that around 200 people marched from Laurelhurst Park to the Penumbra Kelly Building in the southeastern quadrant of the city.
Speakers talked for several hours, and while some protesters shouted at police, no arrests were apparent and there was no tear gas emanating in the area.
However, as the protests continue, some are wondering what exactly the end game is.
“Many African Americans are wondering why certain people are still out protesting on our behalf when even we are saying, ‘What are you demanding?’” asked Dr. Shirley Jackson a Black Studies professor at Portland State University.
“We asked for certain things, we are getting those things and what we would really like to do is see those things being implemented but there is concern the attention is being drawn away from the movement.”
Indeed, what started out as protests against the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis have morphed into virtual anarchy, especially in cities such as Portland, Seattle and others.
Clearly this is about much more than the death of a black man in Minneapolis. That may have been the match that lit it off, but this violence was festering for a long time.
In the case of Portland, things “appear” to have settled down somewhat since federal officers ceased protecting the federal court from being destroyed.
Dr. Randy Blazak, sociologist and chair of the Oregon Coalition Against Hate told KOIN 6 that since the federal officers left, protesters had been policing themselves, trying to put out fires started by others while attempting to control violent behavior.
(Editor note: We know that the opposite is true and we’ve reported on this extensively. The riots have continued and so has the violence. What’s slowed down is the reporting of it.)
So what is next?
“What is going to have to happen is the movement to another phase of this conflict and that phase has to do with dialogue; that phase has to do with the actual expectations—hopes of the protesters are in terms of real, systemic change,” Blazak said.
“I want people to really think about what this really means in the grand scheme of black lives. If we are talking about the continued protests in aiding black lives, I am not quite sure ha many African Americans are thinking that this is doing so,” said Jackson.
Clearly after the death of George Floyd, everyone almost to a person condemned what happened, although as additional information has been released the initial narrative of what occurred isn’t nearly as egregious as originally thought.
However as days turned into weeks and weeks into months, many who originally supported the protests have grown weary. In fact, as more people have become aware of the philosophy behind the group Black Lives Matter, support for that organization seems to have waned a bit as well.
Jackson noted that while people are focusing on the so-called “systemic racist” issues in the country, other issues that are important to African Americans are being ignored; issues such as health issues relative to COVID-19, housing, jobs and employment security to name a few.
“Ignoring those issues is really not helpful, it is actually detrimental to our health and our safety because Black Lives Matter certainly involves the police but it involves other things as well,” said Jackson.
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Meanwhile those who marched to the Penumbra Kelly Building on Tuesday stood pretty peacefully outside the building, which is shared by the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and the Portland Police bureau, for something called a “Direct Action March.”
As the protesters neared the facility, Portland police personnel warned the demonstrators and members of the press not to enter the property, while saying those who did would be “trespassing and subject to arrest, use of tear gas, crowd control agents, and/or impact weapons. Police used bright lights on their patrol vehicles to shine into the crowd.
By midnight, the group had decreased to only a smattering of protesters, and KOIN 6 said they did not note any physical clashes between police and the demonstrators.
Earlier in the night, the outlet noted that an ambulance had been called to the scene as the protesters approached the police facility when a demonstrator fell off the back of a pickup truck; the injured party was described as responsive, the outlet reported.
Police reported that demonstrators had also gathered in the downtown Portland area, however it was reported that there was no interaction between police and the group.
Also on Tuesday, the newly minted county district attorney, Mike Schmidt said that his office will not prosecute cases that either violated a city ordinance or where the charges did not involve deliberate property damage, theft or the use or threat of force against another person; charges included under such a policy would include interfering with a peace officer, second-degree disorderly conduct, third-degree escape, harassment and others.
The DA’s office reported that since May 29, when the protests and riots began, 550 people have been arrested. On Monday night, nine people were arrested outside the Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct. A majority of those arrests will not be prosecuted under Schmidt’s new policy.
The Portland Police Bureau declared an unlawful assembly on Monday night at around 11 p.m., after some agitators in the crowd threw objects and shined lights (likely lasers) at police officers. Police, as well as Oregon State Troopers joined forces to make arrests and disperse the crowds.
Later on Monday night, the crowd regrouped and went back to the North Precinct, where several more interactions with law enforcement officials took place.
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