Tour de Lab September 1st

More thoughts as attacks on cyclists continue

Posted by on February 2nd, 2007 at 4:00 pm

“Last weekend I was riding down NE Skidmore in broad sunlight, they walked out into the street as I passed and punched me…”
-Gabriel Amadeus, in a comment on the Portland Mercury blog

In the last few days I’ve heard of two more attacks on cyclists. Both of them happened in Northeast Portland. One near the Fred Meyer at 28th and Broadway and one near 9th and Skidmore.

The first was reported by Amy Jenniges on the Portland Mercury blog. She posted an email from someone who wrote in after reading the “Bike Beat” article in this week’s paper. Here’s an excerpt,

“I was riding home from work (around 10:30 p.m. on the 30th of Jan.)…when I a car full of kids, at least one a female, passed by slowly while firing a BB Gun/Airsoft saying, “I’ll kill you Mother *****! That’s how we do it!” I was hit a few times in the body, but I got one in the side of my head, right next to my temple…”

The account continues and there’s some good discussion in the comments.

Pedalpalooza '06 Kickoff Parade

[Gabe Amadeus at the
Pedalpalooza Kickoff Parade,

The other one I heard about was a friend and someone I’ve featured on this site before. Gabriel Amadeus is the creative, fun-loving mastermind behind some of the coolest and funkiest mini-bikes in Portland. I recently mentioned him as the man behind the mini-bike chariot events at the upcoming Mini Bike Winter.

Last weekend Gabe was attacked while riding up NE 9th Avenue toward Skidmore. It was broad daylight and he was approached by a group of kids who said they wanted to ask him a question.

Luckily, Gabe never came to a complete stop and was able to ride away, but the kids still managed to land several punches and yell obscenities at him as he pedaled to safety.

I’m not sure what to make of all this.

Have attacks been happening at this rate all along (but never reported), or is this a serious new trend that deserves immediate action?

Here’s what Police spokesman Brian Schmautz said in an article in the Portland Tribune on Tuesday,

“You occasionally get calls about things like that, but I’m not aware of any kind of increase in any part of town.”

Whatever’s going on, these attacks raise more questions than answers.

Some people question whether race is a factor; others blame cyclists for being holier-than-thou hipsters who have it coming to them* argue whether resentment over gentrification plays a part.

*[Editor’s note: A commenter questioned this statement and after more research and thought I now realize it is not accurate and I was confusing reaction to this topic with another one. I regret the misstatement and decided to edit and add to the sentence.]

Some people hope for a calm, community-based response; others prefer more aggressive actions to send a clear message to would-be attackers that cyclists are not fair game.

Race — which I don’t think is the primary factor — has come up in every reference to these attacks since the first media report. I realize race equals ratings, but comments on blogs have also mentioned it.

“Are bikes somehow symbolic of whites and gentrification to the eyes black community? I’m not sure…”

To borrow from my comment on the Mercury blog, I don’t think these attacks are solely about race, but I also don’t think the conversation is real and honest if we don’t mention it.

And I think any mention of race must also include the realities of gentrification in Northeast Portland. I think there remains resentment in the black community about gentrification…but whether that has to do with bikes and whites is hard to say.

Are bikes somehow symbolic of whites and gentrification to the eyes black community? I’m not sure, but it’s a question I’d like to delve deeper into. It’s certainly obvious that Portland’s cycling population could be more diverse.

Ultimately, I think these attacks are about (a lack of) neighborhood safety, the vulnerability of cyclists, a need for cyclists to report these incidents to the police, a need for the police to take those reports seriously, and a need for more neighborhood involvement by all of us.

As for the response by the media and the City of Portland…

In just the last week or so I’ve been interviewed by KATU, KGW, the Portland Tribune, the Mercury and the Oregonian.

The city has responded too, although I’m not sure if it’s on the radar of the Police Chief or the Mayor.

As a follow-up to my sit-down with John Canda (head of the Mayor’s Youth Crime Prevention Office), we’ve nearly confirmed a meeting on Monday to talk about the issue. Slated to join us are reps from the Mayor’s office, the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, and the Commander of NE Precinct.

No matter what the official response is, I plan to do my part to make my neighborhood better. I’ve committed to helping my neighborhood association and I will move forward with my plans for a volunteer bike patrol. I’m hoping to call it “The Bike Beat” and I’m talking with the Community Cycling Center about how we might work together on it.

Stay tuned and stay aware.

Please support BikePortland.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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    Casey February 2, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    Jonathan, you are truly an inspirational and admiral figure within our community. Thank you for giving Portland cyclists a good name by your level headed approach to advocacy. I’m ready to help out on whatever volunteer bike patrol scenario arises.

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    R. Dobbs February 2, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    I went to my CCL class last week. Not too bad. It only costs around $120 all told to get the permit.

    Who wants to start the hugfest?

    blaming the victim in,


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    R. Dobbs February 2, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    Seriously though, I hope the police step up patrols. Not like I don’t see cruisers rolling through NE on a continual basis already.

    Maybe the solution is to ride faster?

    Run away!

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    Andrew February 2, 2007 at 5:28 pm

    R. Dobbs

    Great, you have made it abundantly clear that you have a substantial amount of fear about this issue and you sound really jazzed to show off your propensity to use lethal violence.

    Did Jonathan’s wonderful article and commentary not give you any other alternative’s that you could participate in to make yourself and your neighborhood safer?

    Let the narrow minded, short sighted, hyper masculinized, reactionary, non-constructive commentary please not start up here again…


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      Diondatta March 27, 2011 at 6:00 am

      The fact of the matter is, one should not have to fear for one’s safety simply because they are in a certain neighborhood or of a particular skin color. While I certainly advocate strong gun control, I also advocate for the right of self preservation. And a gang of “kids” against one adult is a lethal situation. Groups of “kids” have beaten people to death and worse….a vegetative or brain damaged state. So, is “fearing” being beaten into a comma a reasonable reaction to being physically assaulted by a “group of kids”? Well, that seems up to the victim at that moment. I pass no judgement upon someone fearing for their safety, when in fact their safety is threatened. There is a cause and effect situation here.

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    Jonathan Maus February 2, 2007 at 5:33 pm


    please resist temptations to start name-calling …no matter how well intentioned.

    Thank you.

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    Attornatus_Oregonensis February 2, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    “…others blame cyclists for being holier-than-thou hipsters who have it coming to them.”

    No one who is sane would say that someone deserved to be violently attacked. Jonathan, who is saying such a bizarre thing?

    Also, you said, “I don’t think [race] is the primary factor.” But I think the remainder of the text of your article indicates differently and indicates that you actually believe differently. I don’t mean to put words in your mouth here, and I’m sure neither of us care to split hairs about what exactly “the primary factor” means, but there seems to be ample evidence that race is an important factor. Also, as you point out, race probably should be involved in the dialogue in order for it to be an authentic conversation.

    In terms of focusing on a solution, I like The Bike Beat idea. But will it really deter attacks against people riding alone? I’m not sure why it would. They never attack when the cops are around either, so…

    Here is where people will start talking about self-defense. This may be the only viable short-term fix.

    But it’s important to remember that it’s a band-aid. How are we going to stop this from happening?

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    Morgan February 2, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    “How are we going to stop this from happening?”

    It will stop happening when the number of people who believe it is constructive to attack people on bicycles is reduced.

    The question is: is this behavioral characteristic is heavily correlated with INCOME (I doubt its rich condo owners doing this, though it could conceivably be the rebellious offspring of rich condo owners), AGE (Sounds like mostly folks below 30 so far) or RACE (I don’t know if its whites or blacks doing this exclusively or a mix)? But its data worth having.

    Otherwise, self-defense and increased penalties/enforcement are the only other way. The problem is, what kind of self-defense can you engage in when outnumbered 10 to 1.

    Attacks are not going to be reduced because of “dialogue” (what is the proper dialogue rejoinder to “I’m gonna beat yo ass”), and it’s not going to be reduced because a few more minorities start biking. That is wishful thinking at its worst.

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    R. Dobbs February 2, 2007 at 7:04 pm

    Hi Andrew, I missed you baby!

    Glad you’re over your bout of hyperventilating, did that manginal swelling finally go down? (Jonathan, if you choose to censor my comments, please censor Andrew’s absurd crybaby crap as well. 🙂 )

    I choose to legally defend myself against pervasive, random violent attacks in NE, thanks. Again, it’s my right and its your right. I don’t care if you don’t think it’s constructive. Frankly, I don’t give two shits about you. If you don’t like our laws, go write a letter to your senator. Otherwise, STFU.

    Sending out the hug brigade isn’t going to make anyone safer. It’s going to make us look like even more pliable, easy targets to bored teenagers who want to “Keep It Real” by kicking some lily white ass.

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    Morgan February 2, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    R. Dobbs,

    Good luck with your self-defense efforts. I hope no one gets hurt (just scared).

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    R. Dobbs February 2, 2007 at 7:22 pm


    Thanks, it’s not really an “effort” though, it’s one of those things that is always better to have and not need rather to need and not have.

    I think the common thread here is that these thugs go after “soft” targets, because there is little risk to them. I can assure you than if they get a gun in their face (as they damn well should) for attemping group beatdown, they will think twice the next time they assault a stranger.

    Point being is that it’s not a crime of desperation, or some endemic social issue. These kids are VIOLENT, COWARDLY and BORED, and they will move on to another target once their meal of choice grows a backbone.

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    Rixtir February 2, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    I’ve been pelted with water balloons by white teenagers in SW, so I think absent any other indications, an attack by black teens on a white cyclist can’t be definitively declared to be about race.

    On the other hand, when they’re making racist comments during the attack, you’d have to be in denial to think that it’s not about race.

    And anybody who thinks it’s only about “gentrification” in NE hasn’t been around black teenagers outside of NE. There’s some barely concealed racism going on in at least some segments of the black teen population in this city.

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    felix February 2, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    I was just told about another person ( not sure they want me to mention their name ) getting shot with an airsoft gun. I have very little confidence in the police doing anything about any of this. What to do? I have no idea but I do hope people start to defend themselves.

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    Biker February 2, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    R. Dobbs…a few things you should be aware of, if you aren’t already. If you’ve taken the classes, you probably are, so maybe this should be addressed to the general public.

    Now, keep in mind I own a number of different firearms…specifically some Russian antiques I’m quite proud of my restoration job on. I like guns… I grew up around ’em, and I love nothing more than a trip to the quarry to plug some milk jugs. Last time I was there, an 8 year old girl out-shot me !!!

    Having said that…there is a world of difference between defending yourself with a firearm in your dwelling, and using one out of doors, in the eyes of the law.

    Even if you are cleared of charges…and you WILL be taken downtown for a long, long time if you use a firearm legally to defend yourself…you are still going to be open to a ton of civil suits from anyone downrange. It is quite common for those who are shot and survive to sue the person who was legally defending herself in many juristictions, once some greedy parasite with a license from the Bar gets involved.

    Be very, very aware of your target and what is beyond your target. You don’t want bullets flying through someone’s wall and injuring them.

    Of course, there are all those cases where the Blueshirts let loose with about 75 rounds to hit one guy, riddling the entire neighborhood with holes. Indeed, they are the laughing stock of local ranges, their marksmanship training is so inadequate. This is a classic example of how different standards apply to them and us.

    Just a few thoughts, that’s all. I prefer to carry that heavy chain, right where I can get at it and whack some racist little punk right in the head if he pulls a knife out or something.

    And, yes, Race is very much involved in this discussion. Any white who has ever lived in a majority black area in a city is well aware of just how much some elements of the black community hate whites with every fiber of their being, and how eager they are to prove this to their little buddies.

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    Attornatus_Oregonensis February 2, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    “It is quite common for those who are shot and survive to sue the person who was legally defending herself in many juristictions, once some greedy parasite with a license from the Bar gets involved.”

    That’s right. So remember, if someone pulls out a gun and shoots you, don’t sue them. Someone else might have the audacity to help them advocate for an independent voice to determine whether the shooter was actually “legally” defending himself. Then it will be very hard for the person who shot someone to get away with it. Then fewer people would feel free to shoot other people. And what a terrible outcome that would be, especially to those who “love nothing more” than shooting guns. Yee haw!!

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    Jonathan Maus February 2, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    A_O (#6),

    I appreciate your thoughtful analysis of my story. You help make me a better writer.

    As for my statement that, “some blame hipsters…” I have looked into it and given it some thought. I now realize my wording was uncalled for and I have edited the post to reflect that.

    There was one comment I remembered that said something like,

    “cyclists visually represent the most recent manifestation of gentrification”

    and that,

    “These people, many people, resent prententious and clueless transplant bicyclists moving into their neighborhoods. How are you folks so blind to your actions”

    These comments are partly what were in my head but I agree that they way I wrote the statement is not exactly accurate.

    As for how race factors in. I was trying to make the point that race is just one of many possible factors.

    I also want everyone to know that if necessary, a serious response is needed.

    I have no delusions that my community-based approach will immediately stop these attacks.

    My plans are more long-term.

    If we can determine that there is a real “clear and present danger” and an upswing in attacks in this vicinity I think a much more serious official response is needed.

    Is it a coincidence that the Police Bureau is slashing gang prevention and youth outreach programs right now?

    Check out this graphic from a story KATU just did about a carjacking in NE:

    The last thing I’ll say is that these issues (race, youth violence, etc…) are almost impossible to discuss electronically! That’s why I’m still planning on a community meeting…stay tuned.

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    Patrick February 2, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    Lately, I’ve been keeping my Ulock handy just in case. I’m not one to normally worry about stuff like this but I’m definately a bit more aware of my surroundings.

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    jami February 2, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    i don’t think anyone should be ashamed of bringing up the race factor. it has been a factor. be careful not to generalize several groups of shitty black teenagers to “the black community,” but it’s clear that in all of the recent random attacks where the race of the attackers was presented, they have been black, and the victims have been white. in the january 10 beating, the attackers used a racial slur. in a robbery at a max stop, the attackers chose their victim “because she was white.”

    so this is what racism feels like. it makes me mad as hell. if we can connect with “the black community” over something, perhaps it’s that racism is shit.

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    Attornatus_Oregonensis February 2, 2007 at 9:42 pm

    I can easily see how Portland cyclists, people like me, could be perceived as a brazen manifestation of gentrification. When I lived in Mississippi, where I grew up, I “lived in a majority black area in a city,” and, as apparently “[a]ny white…is well aware,” there were black people who felt a lingering sense of injustice.

    My friends explained to me that they felt the playing field in America was never really level for them, from the time they went to worse schools and consequently had fewer choices when it came to college, to the time they went into the workplace and got passed over for a job because of the color of their skin, to the way that some white people looked at them when they walked into a room. These experiences, combined with an infamous history of injustice, create in some people a sense of hopelessness, a loss in the belief that the world is, at some level, a just place. And some people become angry and focus that energy negatively. They come to “hate whites with every fiber of their being” and lash out, because the signs of that inherent unfairness is all around them.

    Here in Portland, they’re probably kids who are bright enough to see the disparity in the income of their parent(s) and the mostly white folks who get on the Max every morning in nice clothes and talk on their cell phones while they go to their well-paying job. When they see a hipster, or a thirty-something white guy like me on a thousand dollar bike, they feel resentment. They want to hurt you, to bring you into their painful world…a sick, self-destructive impulse.

    And this is something that society ultimately cannot tolerate, something that must be both punished and discouraged, something that will destroy us as a society unless we work toward solving it — and so “a serious response is needed.” Neither owning nor using more firearms will address that psychology, the root cause of anti-social behavior, and so it cannot solve that problem.

    It will, however, mean that “even if you are cleared of charges…and [sic] you WILL be taken downtown for a long, long time.” And that will be the case even if you hold your fire and just “whack some racist little punk right in the head” with a chain. Doesn’t sound very productive to me. In fact, it sounds eerily like the problem behavior we are all discussing right now.

    No one has any “delusions that [a] community-based approach will immediately stop these attacks,” but it can be part of a solution.

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    Jonathan Maus February 2, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    jami said,

    “be careful not to generalize several groups of shitty black teenagers to “the black community,””

    That’s a great point. I will definitely be more careful about that in my writing from now on.

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    brad February 2, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    Morgan(from#7): The problem is, what kind of self-defense can you engage in when outnumbered 10 to 1?

    I keep a mini u-lock in my back pocket when I ride. If a group of people tried to attack me, and the closet one caught a lock to the face and their teeth went flying, would the others stay or run? It’s hard to do, but if you put yourself in their place in that scenario, you wouldn’t stick around. It would be different if it were a group of people pulling off a robbery together, or something like that, but this isn’t the case. There’s nothing to be gained and a lot to be lost when the attacked adaquately defends themselves. Although I think R. Dobbs’ attitude is shortsighted, he [i]is[/i] right about many things, especially “they will move on to another target once their meal of choice grows a backbone.” If bicyclists don’t allow themselves to be easy targets, the problem should pass soon.

    PS…this is not to say that bicyclists are at fault for being easy targets, I’m just suggesting a way to make it stop. And I don’t think biking around neighborhoods where gentrification is beggining to occur, telling people “it’s alright, we’re your friends” is the answer, because it’s not. We’ve been thinking about calling in fake acts of vandalism,theft,etc to keep the crime rate up and gentrification down in our neighborhood…it’s really hard to deal with that situation.

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    Macaroni February 2, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    Well, it was the gays, now it’s the bicyclists.

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    SKiDmark February 2, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    What black people don’t understand is that first the young white kids who have shitty jobs and can’t afford much more than a bike (not even a MAX pass) moved into NE, because they couldn’t afford to live in SE anymore, and rent a two bedroom house, and then have someone live in the dining room and in the basement, cutting the rent in half per person. Then the Yuppies (or whatever you call slighter older and more affluent people) see that it is kinda safe for white people to live in NE so they start buying houses and fixing them up, and the slumlords take notice and either jack rents up sky high or kick everyone out and cash in. And thus the juggernaut of Gentrification begins. Then in come the cafes, the vegetarian food restauarants (BTW I am vegetarian) and the vintage/retro clothing and nicknack stores, and then it’s not “their” neighborhood anymore.

    They don’t understand that the younger people on bikes are often just as poor as they are (OK some are “slumming it”)and work just as hard as they do an live there because they can’t affrd to live anywhere else. Basically they just think all white people are rich, they resent that, and white people become a target. The people they should be taking their anger out on are the one driving the brand-new SUV’s and Subarus, not the kids on janky fixed gear conversions.

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    Biker February 3, 2007 at 12:47 am

    Problem is, just how DOES one defend themself when attacked by a large group of teenage thugs ?

    Do you recite well-worn homilies about how two wrongs don’t make a right ?

    Do you call 911 if possible and wait, while calmly explaining how “down” you really are with them and how sympathetic you are to the plight of black people in America ? If you were smart you might neglect to mention that American blacks have by far the highest standard of living of ANY black people on Earth, and that “We Shall Overcome” was originally a white labor protest song.

    Should you curl up in a ball and scream “And this is something that society ultimately cannot tolerate, something that must be both punished and discouraged, something that will destroy us as a society unless we work toward solving it” while they kick the living crap out of you ?

    Perhaps you could add “Neither owning nor using more firearms will address that psychology, the root cause of anti-social behavior [sic], and so it cannot solve that problem.” when they pull a knife out and demand your money, instead of reaching for your own weapon, be it a knife, gun, chain, mace, brick, or fist.

    I would imagine that the black “teens” who robbed a good friend of mine at gunpoint in his taxicab near Williams and Killingsworth about two years ago were thinking something along the lines of your scintillating and groundbreaking analysis of America’s class and race-based economic inequities while they repeatedly called him a “white motherfucker” and directly threatened his life. The PPB totally botched that investigation, too, amazingly enough, even after another cabbie observed one of the brats BRAGGING about the crime later on, and immediately called them, with loads of descriptions and leads.

    We are talking about totally out-of-control teenage thugs and predators here, raised in a culture of total ignorance and contempt for civilized behavior, with poor-to-nonexistent parenting thrown into the mix. Sure, they have been dealt a terrible hand in a really unfair and ugly world…that much is blindingly obvious. The point is, just what should someone do when directly confronted with terrifying, potentially lethal violence ? Start singing “Kumbaya” ?

    What if that person is weak, frail, elderly, outnumbered, or injured ? Is the defensive use of deadly force THEN acceptable in your view ? Or do you have armed guards, like most prominent anti-self defense “advocates” do ?

    Are there ANY black people even reading this website ? Care to chime in on just how exactly we honkies should behave while you beat, rape and rob us ?

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    rainperimeter February 3, 2007 at 2:17 am

    i agree with skidmark. i don’t endorse violence at all (and i’m not implying skidmark is either, unless he is, and hey, whatever) but i feel that hostilities are often misdirected.

    just a couple months ago i had an absolutely bullshit experience (which i posted in the forums)where a dude stopped his car, got out and knocked me off my bike and in no time he and his lady started in with “f***ing white boy…entitlement…privilege…blah blah blah”. i’d hardly call myself “the man” but hey, it’s all perspective i guess.

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    adam February 3, 2007 at 4:27 am

    Fight the Power(the cops, once again are absent on these cases, well, absent or not successful – whatever).

    Fight the Ignorance. these kids are bored and looking to entertain themselves – to some bullies, beating down a stranger is satisfying and may even serve to bolster their reps.

    Fight the Labels – as shown, the people doing this are not “the black community” – they are just bored punks. I am not a hipster but I like to ride my bike. Once we know each other, we won’t be so confused.

    whether you choose a lock, a legal degree, an article, a volunteer patrol, whatever it is important that we all stand up, together, to fight nonsense wherever we see it. enough with the hypersensativity about other’s choices and enough with the name calling.

    Time to get to work making it better.

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    SKiDmark February 3, 2007 at 9:03 am

    I am not advocating violence. If you see a group of kids maddogging (staring you down) you, get the f**k out of dodge. Ther is a time where survival and common sense must outweigh machismo. If you are attacked, defend yourself enough to get away, get somewhere public and the call the Police. Fighting back may cause bystanders to jump in and help beat you down. And oh yeah this is flat out racism, being misdirected.

    People on bikes are not the man. The quicker these kids realize that it’s not the white man, that it is rich man keeping us ALL down the better off we’ll all be. If all whites had “white priviledge” then the majority of homeless would not be white males.

    Once again I will say it is also because this city is so socially segregated that this type of sh*t is happening. White people and people of color just don’t mix socially here.

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    beth February 3, 2007 at 9:35 am

    Race IS involved. There is no way around that. If race were not involved we would be hearing stories of SW Portland high schoolers carjacking folks out by the Jewish Community Center just as easily.

    Or would we?

    The disengagement of youth is also involved. Kids in affluent neighborhoods tend to be kept busier (I know, I teach some of them and their lives are overscheduled beyond belief), and tend to be more sheltered by their parents. Kids in poor neighborhoods — of any race — tend to have less to do, and more time to get bore, and into trouble.

    The growth of cities is also involved. This problem will only grow as Portland grows. All the nice urban planning and bike-friendly design will do nothing to stop it. Growth sharpens the line between rich and poor, and points out the differences for all to see.

    While I applaud Jonathan’s desire for dialogue, it will be incomplete and meaninglless until we who are white, middle class and/or otherwise privileged are willing to sit in a room with those who are black, poor and angry and LISTEN to their lives, to their anger, to their hopelessness, and just take it in. I am thinking of something akin to the Listening Project that Israelis and Palestinians are doing, where each has to LISTEN to the other wthout interrupting, and really take it in. Only when each has heard the other’s story can we begin to know how to proceed.

    This lies far beyond the scope of anything that can be acheived at Bike Portland. It needs to be brought to neighborhood associations and churches and schools and city government. And it will take a long time to win the trust of those who are most suspicious — or most weary.

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    Michaelk February 3, 2007 at 11:38 am


    “Neither owning nor using more firearms will address that psychology, the root cause of anti-social behavior, and so it cannot solve that problem.”

    Having some sort of weaponry on hand will, however, increase the odds of keeping me alive in the short term.

    I could really care less if you or anyone else “solves the problem” if I’m dead. There will likely always be another problem afterwards, anyway.

    Dumb white Indiana kids cruising in mom & dad’s SUV put the metal that’s in the left side of my face there, and I’m white as well. I got lucky that when they stopped up the street they paused long enough to realize I had the cell phone up to my ear – and I’m glad they didn’t decide to try and cut the call short by backing me over with the SUV. I’d only just gotten 911 connected, they could have easily gotten away with it.

    But in the end they were unpunished anyway. The cops failed to catch them (never around when you need them, worthless once they get there) and even with descriptions and a plate number, never could be made to follow through.

    I refuse to allow myself to be in a similar situation again without any ability to do more than raise a phone and hope for the best.

    I have to seriously question whether you’ve ever been in a dangerous situation in your life, or even begin to truly appreciate what it entails.

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    Carol February 3, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    A few weeks ago, Turbo and I were coming back home from a party, Saturday night and a huge SUV drove by and threw an egg at Turbo on his tallbike! An egg from an SUV! I don’t know about their Race, but it happened on NE Skidmore and 14th. we were like, who does that and why? Does that come out of hatred or is just a way of “having fun”? I believe that’s both.

    we have to be smart now and not let this wave of attacks create hatred on us in return. I know that by that time if i had the opportunity I would brake their nose with my bike lock. not smart. not smart at all. we gotta be Gandhi here. we gotta show this people that we’re just doing our thing and that we’d love to have them on our side, riding bikes and having fun wih us.

    we’re not in a battle ground.
    these are our neighbors.

    there is probably something we can do as people, without using the police force to “attack” them back. and that would be more effective too, ’cause they wouldn’t stop the attacks for fear, but for respect. but then, maybe, I’m a dreamer.
    And I much prefer to be a dreamer than to start an armed army on bikes. war is not for me.
    as a biker I’m dreamer to start with. I dream of a world free of oil addiction and of healthy, active, happy people. and free of racism and drunk killer drivers too.

    I’d love to be in your meeting Jonathan, I believe you’re the most level headed person to take a lead in this issue.

    much peace for all people,

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    organic brian February 3, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    “Race — which I don’t think is the primary factor…”

    Here’s a message sent to Shift by “Keisha” through the Shift “contact” page on the website. This by the way is the means of sending messages to Shift email contacts now, to hide the addresses from spammers:

    “I read today about an incident involving the attack of two cyclists in NoPo. From what I read, IT SEEMS LIKE A GREAT IDEA TO TAKE CRITICAL MASS TO NOPO, I mean WHY NOT RUB IT IN THEIR FACES THAT THEIR HOOD HAS BEEN GENTRIFIED AND TAKEN OVER BY WHITE, LIBERAL HIPPIES. Yes, thats fucking brilliant. Have some FUCKING RESPECT. Not everyone in Portland is down with you self righteous, white bikers. Why dont you stick with your vegan restaurants, over priced homes, and coffee shops? People like you have done enough damage, not only to North/Northeast Portland but inner SE as well. As a person of color, youve insulted me and my neighborhood.
    Go back to Reed or California or wherever the fuck you from until you learn some respect, you douchebags”

    If I could communicate a message to all the angry black people of NE and N Portland, it would be that economic forces and not race are their main problem (with affordable housing and gentrification). Many people are moving from SE to NE and N Portlnad because they are priced out of their own neighborhoods, resulting from all the influx of people (of every race) who are moving to Portland because they’re fleeing their own overpolluted, overpaved, overcrowded, poorly planned and lacking in local culture cities.

    Also, before those neighborhoods were primarily “black” they were Irish / Polish, and before that the whole damn continent was the home of Native Americans. Places change, some people just have a difficult time dealing with change and some of those people lash out rather than look for solutions.

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    Attornatus_Oregonensis February 3, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    “[J]ust what should someone do when directly confronted with terrifying, potentially lethal violence?”

    Of course you defend yourself. As should be obvious to even the dullest of observers, NO ONE IS DISPUTING THAT.

    The issue that Jonathan raised has nothing to do with whether you use a “knife, gun, chain, mace, brick, or fist,” nor does it relate to how sickeningly enthusiastic you are about firearms. Please go back and re-read the article; it’s about addressing a social problem in a constructive way so fewer of us are faced with the grim situation of having to use violence to preserve our own well-being.

    So let me make it simple for you: What are you doing to solve the problem BESIDES exercising your right to use proportional force in self-defense when attacked?

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    Attornatus_Oregonensis February 3, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    I really think SKiDmark and beth got it right in #26 and #27, respectively.

    Re Keisha’s message posted by organic brain in #28, I have to say that this personifies the kind of resentment and indignation I was talking about. I think this is the attitude that frequently motivates the violence.

    It’s a quintessentially racist view. It defines me by my skin color and then attributes behavior of other whites to me. If we can break down this stereotype by engaging these folks, we might at least heighten condemnation for the attacks and thereby decrease their frequency.

    That’s why I think Jonathan’s Bike Beat idea is such a good one.

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    Adam8 February 3, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Firstly, I’d like to point out, since Jonathan has failed to, that not all of these attacks were perpetrated by black folks. I believe the first incident, of assault at a bus stop, was done by white girls.

    Secondly, considering the demographic of the perpetrators (teenagers) this could probably all be chalked up to adolescent angst and a lack of respect for other people. However, in the event that race is a factor, I’d like to point out that these attacks are probably one of the most successful anti-gentrification tactics I’ve ever seen.

    How much press has this issue received? and how many white people do you think have been, or will be, scared out of N/NE by it?

    “They don’t understand that the younger people on bikes are often just as poor as they are… and live there because they can’t afford to live anywhere else.”

    Although skidmark is right, and logically these teens, angry at their own poverty and disempowerment, should sympathize, he goes on to point out that poor white folks are the first wave of gentrification. Maybe by attacking poorer looking whites these attackers hope to prevent the bevy of condo-living, suv driving gentrifiers to come.

    “Also, before those neighborhoods were primarily “black” they were Irish / Polish”
    –organic brian

    Here I just want to point out that Brian is just plain wrong. N/NE has ALWAYS been a black neighborhood ever since Portland was created. These people do historically have a claim to these areas and I think it’s sad that we’ve disrespected that precedent to the point of inspiring violence.

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    Adam8 February 3, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    “It’s a quintessentially racist view. It defines me by my skin color and then attributes behavior of other whites to me.”

    Um, WRONG. According to almost all legit race theory that would be a prejudiced view. In order for it to be racist the prejudice would have to be backed by institutionalized power.

    Additionally, I’m getting sick of everyone crying foul when they get lumped into a demographic. No one has a problem with saying “people who smoke get lung cancer” but when it’s “white folks moving into black neighborhoods raise the rent” all the honky’s get defensive. On top of that, how do you think NoPo teens feel about being generalized as these attackers?

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    Rixtir February 3, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    One third of African-American households are poor; one-third are blue collar; and on-third are white collar.

    It’s a mistake, I think, to assume that black teenagers are from disadvantaged backgrounds. They may be. Or they may be better off than the white bikers they’re beating down. Whether they’re poor, or middle-class, they may just be racist thugs looking for easy targets.

    And when they find that easy target, it’s always a “white motherfucker.” What they AREN’T shouting out during beatdowns is “You rich motherfucker.” The issue isnt class, it isn’t gentrification, it’s race. You want to listen? They’re telling you what the issue is. It’s race.

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    PFin February 3, 2007 at 2:44 pm


    where’d your incident happen?

    A Cassetted Former Co-Lehrsman

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    Attornatus_Oregonensis February 3, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    “Here I just want to point out that Brian is just plain wrong. N/NE has ALWAYS been a black neighborhood ever since Portland was created.”

    This is egregiously inaccurate. There were hardly any Africa-Americans in Portland at all until WWII and thereafter they were segregated for years in Vanport and Guild Lake. You should read Jewel Lansing’s “Portland: People, Politics, and Power, 1851-2001,” I have a feeling you will learn a great deal about Portland’s rascist past, as well as basic facts about our City itself.

    “I’d like to point out that these attacks are probably one of the most successful anti-gentrification tactics I’ve ever seen.”

    This is a stunningly naive view. I have friends who just bought in NoPo; they are not afraid. They are excited about having such a great house for far less than it would cost elsewhere, and they are eager to engage with their new neighborhood.

    The data show the house sales are not slowing. Gentrification is not going to stop simply because of random street violence by some teenagers. If you don’t believe me, look into what’s happened in Seattle, where their process is well ahead of what’s happening in N/NE.

    “According to almost all legit race theory [an African-American’s view] would be a prejudiced view. In order for it to be racist the prejudice would have to be backed by institutionalized power.”

    Congratulations for paying attention in your Intro to Sociology class. You are correct about the terminology used in contemporary race theory, but I was using the term in its colloquial sense because I was speaking to a lay audience. This is a perfectly acceptable use of the term and you knew perfectly well what I meant. Your need to point this out, however, reveals a pathetic focus on interpersonal angst rather than discussing a SOLUTION.

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    Biker February 3, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    If you’ve spent as much time among po’ black folk as you claim, you might have noticed a rather low rate of hopolophobia among them, as compared to affluent, leftist whites. The use of heavily loaded terms such as “sickening” to describe someone’s familiarity with firearms is merely further proof that the classic leftist approach to life’s problems is firmly rooted in the realm of emotion, not logic. It is very likely the source of the stereotypical bitterness that is the hallmark of white liberals, this utter confusion as to why the real world so totally contradicts their expectations of how it is “supposed” to be. Look around you. People from all walks of life are firearms enthusiasts, and you don’t even know it. We are everywhere.

    It was rather nice to read that column in the Oregonian by a black woman last week, where she actually said “shame on you” to the racist black thugs who are actively preying upon Portland’s whites.

    Now, if this town would devote one tenth as much money to patrols, gang intervention and youth outreach programs as it does towards cute trolleys for wealthy condominium dwellers and subsidies for real-estate developers, THAT might be a step in the right direction. Of course, you can bet that the immense financial black hole which has opened up on the bus mall downtown will preclude anything resembling intelligent use of revenues for far into the forseeable future.

    Just wait ’till they more-or-less close down North precinct due to budget constraints. You ain’t seen nothing yet, honey.

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    rainperimeter February 3, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    pfin: right outside of bullseye, on 21st, about a block away from the breakroom. unfortunately none of the casters were out having smokes…

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    Patrick February 3, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    “The people they should be taking their anger out on are the one driving the brand-new SUV’s and Subarus, not the kids on janky fixed gear conversions”

    Seriously?? So if can’t afford a car it’s not ok to kick my ass, but if I happen to own a new Suby it’s ok beat me down?

    Care to explain this any more Skid?

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    SKiDmark February 3, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    It is NOT that it is OK, it is that chances are that the guy who bought the house down the street and averts his eyes from you (if you are a black teen) likely drive the new car that you hear the automatic door locks activate on as you cross the street in front of him or her. It’s not the guy who just got off work and stopped by Food Not Bombs to get something to eat on the way home on his thrift store bought ten speed with some used part “upgrades” from Citybikes. If fact ten-speed boy and 5 of his friends probably rent from “Mr. New Car Driver who is afraid of people of color”.

    Sorry you couldn’t figure that out on your own.

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    MaTa February 3, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    Two words folks: PEPPER SPRAY.

    Although I am ex-military and a fan of (lawfully owned, responsibly kept) firearms, pepper spray is your best bet for personal defense.

    You won’t hesitate to use it because it won’t permanently harm or kill, its easy to use with a minimal of familiarization, and easy to carry around – no CCW required. It will work on vicious dogs too. . .

    I am 5’6″, 120# and female and I personally ‘dropped’ a long term stalker who was 6’6″ and 300# in a split second – he was squealing like a little child and completely incapacitated. Oh, and I had been documenting his stalking, harassment, and threats for weeks and complaining to the authorities who did nothing. . . . They were pretty impressed though, coming to pick up his many-outstanding warrants ass, who was still incapable of doing anything and covered from head to toe in orange dye! (found in many good pepper sprays to help ID attackers)

    I recommend the ‘UDAP’ brand as being of high quality and in a variety of handy sizes. . .get som e people – (and NO, I don’t work for or represent this company – I’ve just been happy with their product for years, now)

    We are living in some pretty harsh times and self defense is up to you, sorry to say. . . .

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    organic brian February 3, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    “I believe the first incident, of assault at a bus stop, was done by white girls.”

    Adam8, do you mean the January 10th attack by Legacy Emanuel? I can’t think of any other attacks at a bus stop. The victims were white, and the attackers were black.

    “N/NE has ALWAYS been a black neighborhood ever since Portland was created.”

    Here’s a quote from an interview with a longtime Woodlawn resident:
    “Well, it was a community of mainly European extract. There was one Afro-American family,”

    Just one teeny example. There is plenty of info out there that one can search for.

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    Biker February 3, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    North and Northeast became primarily inhabited by black people following WW2. The Vanport projects, where nearly all of the black people in the Portland area lived prior to 1948, were flooded under very suspicious circumstances after the war, and many of these people gravitated to the Union Ave corridor. Redlining by the banks and pressure from the authorities kept them there.

    Interestingly enough, Vanport, at the time the largest housing project in America, was also the only project where blacks and whites lived side-by-side. The war economy was booming, and everyone wanted to make a buck, though racial tensions were typical for the time.

    Here is a good starting point:,_Oregon

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    teacher/social-advocate February 3, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    I have no doubt that it is racial. I grew up being the white kid and have taught in public schools in NoPo. Being called “white” is an insult between kids – as it was when I was a kid. I don’t think that makes NoPo any worse than the rest of Portland, or even our nation of hidden, institutional, structural racism and sexism which favors both the white and the male.

    My old students used to call my road bike a mountain bike, they didn’t believe me that it was not an MTB – also, to them bike were for poor, addicts collecting cans or white folks (unless it wa a low rider bike, or maybe a big-box-BMX).

    Someone commented, asking why are many homeless folks white men if there’s such thing as “white privilege?” In my experience, many, many homeless folks here in Portland are camping and don’t want the home-having lifestyle. Besides if you did the numbers globally – the handful of white folks living “homeless” pales.

    A violent response like mace etc.. has no long term community benefit.


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    nuovorecord February 3, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    My dad grew up in NE Portland, just off Ainsworth near Kennedy School. He graduated from Jefferson HS in 1944 and I have his yearbook. A quick scan through the pages confirms that there were maybe a dozen or so African-American students attending. As Biker’s post correctly points out, African-Americans moved in post WWII and Vanport flood.

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    Rixtir February 3, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    How’s this for irony: The move to NE was seen as a positive development by African-Americans because it helped the African-American community integrate into Portland. Indeed, much of the thrust of the civil rights movement was about breaking down the walls of segregation in housing, education, and the workplace.

    And now segregation, including segregation enforced through violence against integrating whites, is championed by some “progressives.”

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    SKiDmark February 3, 2007 at 8:25 pm

    There is a BIG difference between integration and gentrification.

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    Andrew February 3, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    Attornatus_Oregonensis… you are fabulous.
    You are a beacon of humanitarian logic. Keep on keepin’ on.

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    Carl February 3, 2007 at 8:53 pm

    “Hopolophobia?” Biker, is that a fear of whores playing polo?…or did you mean hoplophobia, an irrational fear of weapons? Either way, I show signs of both and not for a lack of exposure to guns, prostitutes, or polo grounds.

    I also suffer from hooplaphobia. Hoopla really turns me off and this whole story reeks of it. Sure, a friend of mine and I were pelted with eggs after an MMR once, and I’ve had pedestrians make loud observations about my race as I ride past them, but I’m not quite ready to join the media in pumping this as an epidemic.

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    Rixtir February 3, 2007 at 9:01 pm


    The difference I see is the color of the person moving in. When it’s black people moving into a white neighborhood, nobody calls it gentrification. It happened to the neighborhood I lived in, when I was 4 years old, in San Francisco. It was a working class neighborhood, and black people started buying and moving in. believe it or not, they actually had more money than the white people in the neighborhood, and the white people– including my parents– got priced out of their own neighborhood.

    We had to move, 50 miles south, to the only neighborhood my parents could afford to live in.

    Nobody has ever called that gentrification. Back then, they called it blockbusting.

    Oh, and you know what? The next door neighbors were black. I used to play outside with their kid, who was the same age as me. Well, we used to play outside until his mother would catch us together. Then she’d make him go inside. I never understood that– I thought he had a “mean mommy.” I didn’t really get it until I was older– she didn’t want us playing together. So much for “integration.”

    You can dress segregation up as “keeping gentrification out” all you want, the notion of “black neighborhoods” and “white neighborhoods” is still segregation. I don’t suppose these people enforcing their segregated black neighborhood would support “whites only” laws for some neighborhoods, though, even if the whites living there truly, truly truly wanted to live in a whites-only neighborhood…

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    SKiDmark February 3, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    I am the only person in my suburban cul-de-sac who speaks English. Still, we manage to communicate, and for the most part we get along. There are many kids living here, and I fix their bikes. The grandmother next door makes me lunch if she sees me out in the garage, I say gracias, one of the ten words of Spanish I know. That, is integration. You move in, and you get to know your neighbors.

    Gentrification is when you buy a house fix it up and put it up for sale for three times what you bought it for. gentrification is when you open up a $20 a plate restaurant in a neighborhood where people with families are subsisting on minimum wage. Gentrification in a nutshell, is N.Mississippi Av. Stop trying to skirt the issue, or make it into something it’s not.

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    Rixtir February 3, 2007 at 9:39 pm


    When my family moved out of their neighborhood, it was because black families moving in priced the young white families, including us, out. And you know what? I don’t have any issues with that. They had the money, we didn’t.

    I DO have issues with the black thugs who moved in and started holding up the neighborhood businesses and pistol whipping the old people in the neighborhood, which kind of created an incentive for the white people to move out.

    And you know where we moved to? A Mexican neighborhood, 50 miles south. Yeah, I grew up on the Mexican side of town, which was the only side of town we could afford. Know what else? We never, ever had any problems with Mexican families resenting the white families. We were all part of the same neighborhood.

    People here think that black neighborhoods should have a right to exist, as a cultural base for African-Americans? Fair enough, that may be true, but where was the concern for my Italian-American neighborhood when black families priced and beat us out? Or didn’t our right to our culture count as much?

    People here have sympathized with these poor disadvantaged black teens. Let me tell you about disadvantage. My power was turned off all last week because I couldn’t pay the bill. My clothes are practically rags, because I can’t afford to buy anything. My shoes have holes worn in them from walking everywhere, and I can’t afford to replace them. I have a phone now, but I there have been long periods when I’ve gone without a phone, because I couldn’t afford the bill. And when I see black teens in designer clothes and expensive sneakers, with cell phones and all the other essential teen accoutrements referred to as “disadvantaged,” while I’m presumed to be “advantaged” because I’m white, I have to laugh.

    Finally, you say stop trying to skirt the issue?

    When black kids gang up on a white person riding or walking by, and they’re yelling racist epithets while they’re doing it, that is about race, not class. I think there’s something fundamentally wrong with a society when you have to stop and check the skin color of the racist before you decide whether to condemn the racism, or even call it “racism.” Talk about skirting the issues, or making it into something it’s not.

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    Biker February 3, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    Hopolophobia ! Hahaha, my bad. Right now I’ve got a totally sprained ankle and no insurance, thus no doctor, thus no pain meds. So, I’m both grumpy and, shall we say, distracted.

    Hoopla it might be, but can you imagine the media feeding frenzy if the colors were reversed, ie; packs of redneck teens shouting “you black motherfuckers” at blacks before they beat them up, over and over and over again ?

    They would have to cordon off a whole block for all the satellite trucks pouring in from every corner of the country to set up camp in.

    The times in my life I’ve been confronted by openly bigoted black people, and there have been more than a few, I’ve always had to ask, “How does it feel ?”

    Generally, the response has been along the lines of “Pretty fucking good, and turnabout is fair play.”

    Is it ?

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    Andrew February 3, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    Rixtir, please stop making uninformed generalizations that are not backed by any serious or even general understanding about the subjects in which you speak about.

    First, I don’t want to discredit your experience, because I think that it is important. However, it is a huge mistake to try and take your experience and attempt to draw all your logic out of that. It’s inductive and irrelevant to the general patterns of gentrification in the United States, where Race and Class are intertwined because of obvious historical and contemporary factors.
    Plenty of new racist institutional arrangements and other factors continue to guarantee that the Civil Rights Act wasn’t going ameliorate racial (and economic) inequality. And it is doubly ignorant to believe that it would have such an effect considering the evidence to the contrary.

    It may provide you with some comfort to know that “Gentrification” as a conceptualized definition for number of researchers would be “a dramatic change in class, race, or ethnicity in a given neighborhood or community.” (I’m paraphrasing) So you too could be a victim of sorts of gentrification.

    However, you cannot equate “Gentrification” and “Segregation”. These are complex topics with complex contexts.

    And to your last simplistic thought, statistics show that African Americans prefer racial integration with White people in United States MORE than White people prefer to integrate with African Americans. There are many peer reviewed studies of such findings out there I urge you to locate, read, and to inform yourself. I recommend you read an older book “American Apartheid – Segregation and the Making of the Underclass”.

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    Rixtir February 3, 2007 at 10:06 pm


    I think any discussion of race and class in America that is based on an assumption that all black families are poor– as we’ve seen expressed repeatedly in this discussion– is faulty.

    My statistics are ten years old, but I doubt the data has changed dramatically since then– One-third of African-American families are poor; two-thirds are not. One third are blue collar, and one-third are white collar.

    And seriously, is anybody going to argue that the white people getting beaten are in the same socioeconomic class as the white people who have the money to buy out the old neighborhood?

    Any discussion of race and class that ignores these class realities and assumes that all African-Americans, or even most African-Americans, are poor, and that all white people are middle and upper class is misinformed.

    Finally, I’m not saying that African-Americans don’t want integration opportunities for themselves; I’m pointing out that they can’t have it both ways– integration is good when black people move into a white neighborhood, and it’s bad when white people move into a black neighborhood. It’s either a desirable social phenomenon, or it isn’t. As I’ve pointed out, there were loads of white people with restrictive covenants built into their deeds so they could keep their all-white neighborhoods. You can’t avoid hypocrisy if you’re opposed to that, and also think it’s a good idea to beat up white people when they move into a black neighborhood.

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    SKiDmark February 3, 2007 at 10:40 pm

    I believe I said these attacks are racist. I also said that they are a reaction to the gentrification of their neighboorhood. Then I said that their hostility is misplaced because they are directed their attacks towards people who are likely poor, just like they are.

    I believe that all poor people regardless of color need to unify, and not fight each other. Gentrification has more to do with class than race because when it happens everyone who is poor, regardless of color, has to leave.

    Get it?

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    Rixtir February 3, 2007 at 10:43 pm


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    Andrew February 3, 2007 at 11:16 pm


    Well, money is a driving mechanism of change with gentrification but we do need to understand and acknowledge that race is inextricably related with class in the United States. This is so important if we want to really get a grip on how attitudes and opinions are being formed within some (not all) people in the black community regarding the ‘great white flight’ into North Portland.

    Black neighborhoods, for good and bad, have been the centers of community, solidarity and identity within the context of a racist country. To say that people wanting to retain some autonomy are isolationist is insane.

    I don’t know how to respond to the rest that you wrote because it doesn’t add up, or make sense. It just sounds like you made a huge analytical leap by having the audacity to label assaults as a “Black” form of housing discrimination which is a claim by itself is absurd, but then at the same time insinuate that it is comparable to the practices and effects of block busting, redlining, and restrictive covenants… whoa that’s even more absurd.

    I do apologize if that was a little terse . I meant no personal attack.

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    Rixtir February 3, 2007 at 11:41 pm


    I do think that redlining and restrictive covenants are how white people kept black people out of white neighborhoods; I also hear these teens using racist epithets when they’re attacking white people in their neighborhoods. I don’t think that that’s some form of organized black opposition to white flight into NE, but I do think that whereas white middle class and upper class neighborhoods had one kind of power– the law– to keep their neighborhoods white, black teens have another kind of power to keep their neighborhoods black.

    I think on the one hand, it is important for people to have the centers of community, solidarity, and identity that you’re talking about, but I also think that when white people are kept out through violence, the question of white people keeping there neighborhoods white inevitable will come up.

    Now, in my case, race in America categorizes me as “white,” even though my ancestors– Irish, Italian, Polish– weren’t exactly welcomed here by the “white” citizens of this country. It’s only in the construct of race that I’m “white.” And as far as a neighborhood being a center of community, solidarity, and identity, I’d say that other ethnicities in this country– Italian-Americans, for example, have had their communities torn apart as well. My Italian-American neighborhood became a black neighborhood; I lost the opportunity to grow up in that Italian culture. All that’s left of Little Italy in New York is Mulberry Street, and that’s only by agreement with the Chinese community. the rest of Little Italy has been swallowed up by Chinatown. Little Italy in Portland was razed for urban redevelopment; it’s a dead zone after 5 PM now. But suppose the Italian-Americans had somehow kept their communities intact? Would they (we) be justified in keeping our neighborhoods Italian today, at the expense of others who would want to live there? And how would we go about doing that? Through violence? Discrimination? Restrictive covenants?

    Again, I think that what you’ve said about communities is important, and to some extent I agree. The reality is, “white” is a social construct, and it robs me of my cultural identity. But what are legitimate means for keeping communities intact? And how do we respect community AND respect the rights of people to live where they want to live?

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    Ninja February 4, 2007 at 10:06 am

    It strikes me that two common themes in this conversation are community safety and police accountability. These are issues that all folks in N/NE can relate to regardless of race, class or bike affinity.

    Find the common ground…

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    lyle February 4, 2007 at 10:07 am

    here’s my point of view, sociology and psychology aside. which a lot of people probably won’t agree with on here.

    if you’re willing to beat someone who you don’t know simply because of their skin color, you’re a piece of s#it. if you’re a member of a minority group that has a distinct, well-documented history of this type of violence and bigotry being acted out against it (say, a 400 year history) you’re doubly or triply a piece of s#it.

    so go ahead and keep pulling people off of their bikes and grabbing them off the street and calling them racist names while you beat, kick, punch, rob and assault a member of another race, because your actions are going to be clearly excused under a socioeconomic context by a lot of people. particularly people on so keep that in mind.

    and besides, the same people making those excuses really expect no better from you and your minority group. so you might as well live up to expectations.

    but i do expect different. i think you can do better, but if you don’t you’re simply a piece of garbage and i’m not gonna excuse it and i’m not gonna try to explain it.

    and just so you know, if i drive through the neighborhood where these attacks are taking place, i’m gonna have a really sharp blade on me, and you’re gonna have to try hard not to get stabbed if you attack me while you call me racist names.

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    Bjorn February 4, 2007 at 10:20 am

    I almost wonder if media attention hasn’t somehow made this the cool thing to do. Last night I was riding down MLK and a car behind me start honking. The left lane was open and there was no reason for them not to go around, and there was no where else for me to be because there is no bike lane. This continued for 3 blocks. Then the car pulled up beside me with the passenger window down. There were 3 african american men in their early to mid 20’s inside who began yelling “honkey get in the bike lane” along with some other threatening comments. This continued for another 3 blocks because we kept getting stopped at all the same lights. Then they drove off honked at some car for no apparent reason and got on I-84. I’ve been yelled at for riding probably once a month since I moved to town, but this is the first time I’ve been yelled at for riding while white, and they seemed to just be driving around looking for people to harass regardless of whether they were in cars, on bikes, or walking.


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    Peter Nierengarten February 4, 2007 at 10:32 am

    I was riding on N. Mississippi last Saturday and was verbally assaulted by a motorist.

    On January 27th, at about 3:00 pm I was pedaling south on Mississippi. I had just stopped to admire the on-street bike parking at Mississippi and Shaver and had just jumped back on my bike to go down and check out the newest on street bike parking near Amnesia. I was nearing the intersection of Mississippi and Beech, where I would make a left turn, when from at least 100 feet behind me I could hear a horn honking. I ride with a mirror, so I could see that he was approaching rapidly and I thought it quite odd that he was honking well before my presence was impeding the progress of the rather shiny new Acura or similar sedan. As I reached the intersection, I signaled my left turn intention and decided to stop and turned back to ask the motorist “Is there a problem?”

    That’s when things got a bit ugly. He unbuckled his seat belt, opened the car door, got out and yelled back “Obviously there’s a problem mother f@%#er, you heard me honking. If you’d like to pull over to the side, I’ll kick you f@%#ing ass.” (Apparently the approximately 20 people on the street, including several cyclists at Amnesia, watching the situation didn’t make him the slightest bit bashful about the use of his R-rated language.) Now, I am a skinny, 5’10” cyclist and this gentleman (for lack of better adjective) looked to be about 6’-2” and somewhat muscular…definitely quite capable of kicking my ass. I quickly elected to keep my mouth shut and continue my left turn, while shaking my head. The motorist drove away and I was unharmed, though infuriated and confused.

    It seemed very odd that this gentleman was so pissed off just at the mere sight of me over 100 feet ahead of him on the street. Was it the fact that I had the nerve to ride in the middle of the lane (instead of riding far to the right and risk being pinched between parked cars and cars try to pass me) for my 2 block trip down N. Mississippi (a relatively low speed street)? Did it have something to do with the color of my skin (this would be easy to infer, but difficult to confirm both because of the distance between us and because it was a cold day and most of my skin was covered)? Or was this guy just a complete asshole who is pissed at the world?

    I’ve been in many arguments with motorist before, but this one makes my blood boil more than any other, because of the motorist aggressive disregard for my right to be on the street.

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    Attornatus_Oregonensis February 4, 2007 at 10:57 am

    “[Attackers’] actions are going to be clearly excused under a socioeconomic context by a lot of people. particularly people on”

    If you thought it was “clear” that I (or anyone else, to the extent I might presume to speak for others) was attempting to excuse the behavior of the attackers, then there was miscommunication. I offer no excuse for these people, for I believe there is none.

    People nearly always have a subjective rationalization for what they do. It’s important to understand this in order to fully understand their behavior, because that’s the only way to prevent or stop it. I don’t think there’s any disagreement in the sentiment that, whatever the rationalization is, it’s morally wrong and cannot be tolerated.

    There is an important distinction between understanding and condoning. I am merely trying to understand. And at the same time I have full confidence that these people will be prosecuted.

    To clarify, I do think there is a double standard, to some degree, in the way racially motivated attacks are treated by the media. I don’t think any amount of historical injustice justifies crime.

    You can set psychology and sociology aside to form your opinion if you wish, of course, but then you will be missing key elements necessary to understand why people behave as they do and the likelihood that your understanding will be inaccurate will be greatly increased.

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    Attornatus_Oregonensis February 4, 2007 at 11:03 am

    Re Bjorn, #62:

    Bjorn, you were the victim of a crime last night. I URGE ANYONE WHO HAS THIS EXPERIENCE TO NOTE THE LICENSE PLATE NUMBER OF THE VEHICLE. We all have a duty to our fellow cyclists and fellow citizens to be proactive in dealing with these situations.

    It can be a tremendous inconvenience, but you can call the police and demand that a report be filed. You can go to an attorney and get the identity of the owner of the vehicle. You can then write them a letter, or sue them (there is also a civil cause of action here).

    I guarantee that people will be less likely to repeat this barbaric behavior if they are dragged into court and/or visited by the PoPo.

    The law is here to help us solve these problems without resorting to violence, to the extent possible. Let’s let it do its thing.

    Disclaimer: As I have said before, I do not do this sort of work and so do not stand to profit from this recommendation.

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    Andrew February 4, 2007 at 11:24 am


    Again, you are using inductive arguments which totally limit your understanding of the greater patterns here.

    “The reality is, “white” is a social construct, and it robs me of my cultural identity.”
    Cultural identities are also social constructs not some platonic form.
    The ability for you as an Italian American to retain a “cultural identity” and community is going to be less of an issue of survival than it would be for other groups. That is a fact.

    You have white privileges whether you want them or not, even if you are broke.

    Daily effects of white privilege
    Peggy MicIntosh
    I decided to try to work on myself at least by identifying some of the daily effects of white privilege in my life. I have chosen those conditions that I think in my case attach somewhat more to skin-color privilege than to class, religion, ethnic status, or geographic location, though of course all these other factors are intricately intertwined. As far as I can tell, my African American coworkers, friends, and acquaintances with whom I come into daily or frequent contact in this particular time, place and time of work cannot count on most of these conditions.

    1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
    2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.
    3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.
    4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
    5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
    6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
    7. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
    8. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.
    9. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.
    10. I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.
    11. I can be casual about whether or not to listen to another person’s voice in a group in which s/he is the only member of his/her race.
    12. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can cut my hair.
    13. Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.
    14. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.
    15. I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.
    16. I can be pretty sure that my children’s teachers and employers will tolerate them if they fit school and workplace norms; my chief worries about them do not concern others’ attitudes toward their race.
    17. I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color.
    18. I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race.
    19. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.
    20. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
    21. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
    22. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world’s majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.
    23. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.
    24. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the “person in charge”, I will be facing a person of my race.
    25. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race.
    26. I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children’s magazines featuring people of my race.
    27. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance or feared.
    28. I can be pretty sure that an argument with a colleague of another race is more likely to jeopardize her/his chances for advancement than to jeopardize mine.
    29. I can be pretty sure that if I argue for the promotion of a person of another race, or a program centering on race, this is not likely to cost me heavily within my present setting, even if my colleagues disagree with me.
    30. If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn’t a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of color will have.
    31. I can choose to ignore developments in minority writing and minority activist programs, or disparage them, or learn from them, but in any case, I can find ways to be more or less protected from negative consequences of any of these choices.
    32. My culture gives me little fear about ignoring the perspectives and powers of people of other races.
    33. I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race.
    34. I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.
    35. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having my co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.
    36. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it had racial overtones.
    37. I can be pretty sure of finding people who would be willing to talk with me and advise me about my next steps, professionally.
    38. I can think over many options, social, political, imaginative or professional, without asking whether a person of my race would be accepted or allowed to do what I want to do.
    39. I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.
    40. I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.
    41. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.
    42. I can arrange my activities so that I will never have to experience feelings of rejection owing to my race.
    43. If I have low credibility as a leader I can be sure that my race is not the problem.
    44. I can easily find academic courses and institutions which give attention only to people of my race.
    45. I can expect figurative language and imagery in all of the arts to testify to experiences of my race.
    46. I can chose blemish cover or bandages in “flesh” color and have them more or less match my skin.
    47. I can travel alone or with my spouse without expecting embarrassment or hostility in those who deal with us.
    48. I have no difficulty finding neighborhoods where people approve of our household.
    49. My children are given texts and classes which implicitly support our kind of family unit and do not turn them against my choice of domestic partnership.
    50. I will feel welcomed and “normal” in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social.

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    Andrew February 4, 2007 at 11:25 am

    sorry about that long post, here is a inviting link

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    rixtir February 4, 2007 at 2:24 pm


    That is a long post, and I’ll have to read it more carefully later. I agree with at least some of the 50 points, and would likely dispute at least some of them.

    First, if by “survival,” you mean “cultural survival,” then the *FACT* that different ethnicities which were formerly categorized as “not white”—the Irish and Italians, for example—have been assimilated as “white” means that to some extent, they haven’t survived culturally. It’s extremely insulting to insinuate that some cultures—African-American, in this context—are more valuable to their members than other cultures are to their members.

    On the other hand, if by “survival” you mean actual ability to survive in society, get a grip. There’s a world of difference between the America of 2007 and the America of 1877, 1915, 1953, or 1965. Is there prejudice? Yes. Is it pervasive? I would argue “no.” Does maintaining a cultural identity based in community help one to survive that prejudice? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it helps one retain some semblance of dignity and sanity in a world where you’re never quite sure if you didn’t get that promotion because the other guy was more qualified, or if it was because of ethnic prejudice. Or maybe it becomes a crutch that holds one back from learning to walk in an unjust world. I don’t know.

    As I’ve said, generically speaking I think there’s a certain value to retaining communities where people can retain their sense of identity. On the other hand, I think the downside to that is it can act as a barrier to social cohesiveness and integration of the cultural group into the larger society, the most extreme examples being in places like Kosovo.

    The value of community aside, my thesis is, and has been, that maintaining communities through the use of violent force is analogous to segregation. For example:

    1) A WASP community wants to retain its cultural identity; they specifically don’t want any blacks, Jews, or other undesirable ethnic types bringing their unwanted cultural values into the community. So maybe they pass some laws that keep those unwanted groups out, and those laws are enforced by the police and/or by the courts. Or maybe the police just harass anybody who isn’t a WASP. Either way, they keep their WASP community WASP.

    2) Upset by the increasing influx of hipsters into Williamsburg, Hasidic Jews organize protests to harass the hipsters into leaving.

    3) A black kid shows up in Bensonhurst one day; the local Italian kids do NOT want any black people hanging around in Bensonhurst, so they grab their baseball bats and chase him out. He runs for his life, but they catch up to him and beat him to death.

    4) Black teens gang up on random white people in NE Portland, yelling racist epithets as they beat the white people.

    Yes, one could argue that in the segregated WASP community, the law enforces the segregation, whereas it doesn’t enforce it in NE Portland, or even Williamsburg or Bensonhurst. I would argue that that is a naïve view of power. There are different kinds of power: The law, social pressure, physical violence (which is ultimately what enforces the law, anyway). Black teens in NE Portland (or Italian teens in Bensonhurst, for that matter) may not have the power of the law to back up their claims to their turf, but they do have the power of physical force to back it up. As Mao said, power comes from the barrel of a gun.

    As far as race and class being intertwined, yes, I agree to some extent, but when we see, as has been reported, groups of middle-class black teens commuting from their nice suburban homes to hang out for some culture in the old ‘hood, and those middle class teens are using violence against white residents of the old ‘hood who are in a lower socio-economic class, it’s about race, not class. When we see black teens beating white people who are in the same socioeconomic class they’re in, it’s about race, not class. Do we—white and black alike—mix up race and class in this country? Undoubtedly. Are these teens racist? Yes, again, undoubtedly. Are they the only racists in America? Absolutely not. But as somebody pointed out, they, if anybody, should know that racism is wrong.

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    Andrew February 4, 2007 at 6:59 pm


    Don’t try and give me your wikipedia summarization of the processes and dynamics of assimilation in the US. I’m well, well, well educated about such. Don’t try to obfuscate this little discussion by mis-contextualizing my words or the points I was making.

    “Is there prejudice? Yes. Is it pervasive? I would argue ‘no.'”

    Well, you can’t argue anything, and you haven’t argued anything here. You have not ever studied the things your are speaking about (That is painfully obvious). Factual assumptions, blanket generalizations, reductionism, inductive logic are all keystones of the thoughts you have offered this post.(Please look up these words and concepts in a dictionary or encyclopedia, and think about them before spewing any more of your trot to anyone).
    Opinions and fundamentally parochial “example’s” are not going to cut it. You sound like a first year liberal arts student who doesn’t understand why his papers and his ideas continue to get torn apart because of a blinding ego and convenient emotionally potent oversimplifications.

    I’m taking my gloves off here because you are offering the same argument that has been totally invalidated. This is my last post, no need to respond.

    Buddy… goodbye and good luck

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    rixtir February 4, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    I will respond, because YOU haven’t invalidated anything. YOU haven’t presented a shred of an argument to support your thesis. What’s painfully obvious is you have no argument. If you disagree with what I’ve said, support it with *something*.

    Or not, I don’t care.

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    rixtir February 4, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    Oh, and Andrew, as you are no doubt WELL aware, inductive logic is a perfectly valid form of logic. You might not like having to deal with somebody who lives in the real world, instead of your theoretical world, but you STILL haven’t refuted a word I’ve said, and you STILL haven’t offered a counter-argument to a word I’ve said.

    You might not like inductive logic, but it’s the only logic that’s been offered in this “discussion.” If you have something that’s “superior’ to it, you sure haven’t offered it up.

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    Jim F. February 4, 2007 at 7:53 pm

    I love all this white man’s guilt over “gentrification” (whatever that is). What have the effects of “gentrification” been on my street (between Alberta and Killingsworth)? Hmm, well we got rid of the crack house, and the one that was being used for prostitution. The black people on the street were just as happy as the white folk to see this happen, and in fact we worked together to get it done.

    Last summer 3 black girls walked past my house and one made a comment that was obviously about the new white family. One of the other two girls shot back “Yeah, I hate it when I can walk down my street and not have to worry about being shot.” That shut the other girl up.

    I think that sums it up nicely.

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    Donald February 4, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    It’s too bad this thread has been hijacked by so much meaningless chest thumping. What a bore.

    I’ve been a North Portland resident for over 20 years. Graduated from Jeff. Squatted here. Rented here. Now I own a home here.

    Two observations:

    a: In the last 5 years or so, a lot of wasted real estate has been converted into decent living space and revenue generating retail property. Anybody who thinks this is bad for a community probably has some other chip on their shoulder.

    b: I’ve been riding my bike in this neighborhood since the mid-80s. I’ll tell you for certain that it’s a heck of a lot safer today than even 5 years ago. I especially love the Williams/Vancouver routes. Back in the day, I wouldn’t have even considered them as viable routes.

    But I’ve never been harassed and I’ve never been assaulted. And neither have the other 99.9 percent of the riders who safely ply the 5th quadrant’s streets and avenues every day.

    If you really want to make a point about how much you paid attention in sociology, can you take it somewhere else? And if you want to make generalizations about the safety of North Portland, please, hold your thoughts until you’ve put some miles under your tires out here.

    Reading some of these pontifications just makes me cuss mad, like someone sitting in a room and having other people talk about you like you’re not even there.

    North Portland is a safe and pleasent place to live and bike. Anybody who says otherwise, is just itching for a fight.


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    Morgan February 4, 2007 at 8:53 pm

    Hee, I like Donald’s post. It’s almost as if Rixtir and Andrew are two guys who would argue about Hume vs. Kant outside a burning building while people inside scream for help.

    Donald, I’m glad you’ve never been messed with. I share your view that N/NE is definitely safer than it used to be. That doesn’t mean some people haven’t been bothered by lowlifes who get kicks from messing with people (unless people who write in here are just making stuff up).

    Anyway, let’s hope reduce such behavior by reporting crimes to the police and by staying on top of things. NOT by arguing minor, trivial philosophical points. You’ll never convince each other anyway.

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    Bjorn February 4, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    My experience with reporting car on bike harrassment that did not result in an injury to the cops is that they do not care at all. In fact I wasn’t able to get anyone to take my report, last summer when I was in a road rage caused collision that didn’t result in damage to me or my bike. Has anyone had anything positive come out of reporting road rage to the cops?


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    Donald February 4, 2007 at 9:06 pm

    I had terrific response from our neighborhood’s crime prevention guy, Tom Peavey, when we had some safety issues on our block.

    But, it looks like he got a promotion!

    I have no idea who the new crime prevention coordinator for this area is now (they divide N/NE at the freeway, not MLK), but I’m sure you could find out as quickly as I could. Besides, it looks like Tom may still be a great resource for some of the issues that some riders are reporting.

    Ride aware and ride safe!


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    Christopher February 4, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    Thank you Donald. You are just about the first voice of reason Ive read in this discussion yet.

    I would expect better socio-political analysis in an 11th grade classroom.

    Really, unpacking white privilege? Can we get out of the anarchist bookstore and into the real world here?

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    Morgan February 4, 2007 at 9:40 pm

    But Christopher, it’s cozy in the bookstore and they have espresso…

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    mykle February 4, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    White people are fucking with bicyclists as much as black or pink or blue people. I really think that you’re missing something if you look at it through the lens of portland’s race problems. which exist, duh! but that’s not the point …

    I really want to know whether bikers have been just leaving this shit unreported until now, or if there’s a recent increase in this sort of harrassment. I want to hear from people who’ve been attacked non-recently — if there were unreported incedents before, then let’s get that data as well.

    FWIW, i got a beer bottle smashed on my helmet Christmas, while crossing burnside on my bike. Thrown from a jacked-up red pickup with a camper shell and blacklights inside, driven by white-sounding, drunk-sounding people. Nothing like that (the first part) has ever happened to me. A block later I tried to flag down a police car, but the officer, after slowing to observe me, drove away without stopping.

    And I’m not *that* bent out of shape over it. People have been jerks to me as I walked, and as I drove, and now as I’ve biked. But not often. Most people are awesome! I don’t think this is some harbinger of a deep cultural resentment somewhere, it’s just a fringe of bike-hating jerks. Let’s deal with them, but don’t implicate everybody else.

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    Morgan February 4, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    I always knew the Dixie Tavern would lead to these kinds of incidents…we need to close that place down. Keep the Beavos in Beaverton.

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    Biker February 5, 2007 at 12:09 am

    Like I originally said, when I had to deal with vile WHITE jocks fucking with me on my bike daily, in Texas, I learned something. They respond very, very well to the high probability that any violence they dish out will be dished right back out in kind, and it stands to reason that black thugs might be similarly dissuaded from beating cyclists down. They’ve backed down from me on my bike, in N/NE, 5+ years ago, a number of times. But, I’m a big guy, and I don’t mind fighting so much, so your mileage may vary with physical confrontations.

    Against an automobile piloted by some jerk, white or black, who seriously wants to run you down, you will always lose the argument on foot or on bike, period. I also speak from personal experience, here. Best get out of the way, to safety, and hopefully get the license plate. If they are nasty enough to get out of the car, get up on your hind legs and prepare to defend yourself, or haul ass out of there, if you can.

    The pepper spray option is indeed much less likely to result in lawsuits than the use of a firearm, but, if your life is in grave danger and you are confident that you can kill your assailant(s) without endangering others, have at it and hope to the God of your choice that you do not hit an innocent bystander.

    The splendid track record of the Police with these kinds of attacks, in my experience anyway, speaks for itself quite loudly and clearly. Again, your mileage may vary.

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    teacher/social-advocate February 5, 2007 at 11:39 am

    In the last 5 pdx years I have been almost run-down by middle aged white men in large trucks or vans more than any other group.

    After middle age white men it goes, teenagers, middle age women.

    Of these incidents, only 1 large truck driving man flipped me off, while many teenagers revd-up their honda’s right on my ass.

    It’s very hard to get license plate #s off vehicles that almost hit you.

    The majority of these almost-hit occurrences happened in SE and NE Portland.

    I have rarely been almost hit by an automobile in N Portland, however, I have had large teenage black kids jump in front of me while I was riding (twice), and once just talk smack.

    Perhaps it’s an age issue as well as race and all that comes with it.


    To those who say gentrification makes neighborhoods safe – you are not thinking about the larger community. A “drug dealer” that no longer lives in your neighborhood is probably living in a deviant culture elsewhere. How can WE help each other – lessening the amount of anti-community behaviors and ideologies?

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    Disgusted chick February 5, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the race-baiting rhetoric continues on.

    Here is the newsflash: There are shitty teenagers all over the Metro area doing jacked up stuff.

    The teenagers who threw bricks at passing cars in Oregon City were white. The kid who shot another kid with a paintball gun was white. The meth heads who’ve made so I can’t get a good decongestant are largely white. Most importantly, newstyle NoPo trendies the kids that shot up the front of houses on NE Garfield a few years ago were white. their purpose was to go scare some black people because they got in a scuffle on a trimet bus with one in SE Pdx. This single mom and her daughter were scared to death. Please tell me how I should’ve explained to her why white boys a little older than her were shooting at people with skin like hers.

    My car was stolen by a white kid from SE PDX. Criminals look for crimes of opportunity not just “blacks”. And the racism that seeps throughout this site is disgusting.

    I can’t believe Joanthan that you had to be told that aggregate all blacks under the banner of a few scattered incidents is ‘not okay’

    Facts are rapes, robberies and murder occur everyday in this city. Do you give a damn what happens to people that aren’t white cyclists?

    The concept of using a real or imagined threat against white women by black ‘savages’, to justify racism and violence isn’t new. See Also: Emmett Till, “Birth of a Nation”, et. al.

    Please show me that you are interested in people outside of your “group” and I’ll try to overcome the thinly veiled racism throughout this site.

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    Jonathan Maus February 5, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    Disgusted chick,

    I can tell you’re upset. But with all due respect, I feel your anger is being misdirected and perpetuated because of the difficulty in having this conversation over multiple posts and many comments.

    I have tried to explain that I have made bad choices in words and I have not been as clear as necessary in all my writing around this topic.

    My putting these incidents on the “black community” had more to do with a literal oversight and my limitations as a reporter than with any deep-seeded racist feelings.

    I realize this is not solely a race issue and that this is not solely a bike issue.

    Also, you said,

    Please show me that you are interested in people outside of your “group” and I’ll try to overcome the thinly veiled racism throughout this site

    This is unfortunate because I have tried to make it clear that my true passion around this issue is that I firmly believe bikes can be part of making our communities safer and more livable.

    I do care about my neighborhood and about people in this city, whether they bike or not.

    The entire idea around forming neighborhood “Bike Beats” is to build community. The fact that we’d be on bikes doing it is secondary.

    Please stay tuned, I think you will be happy to read about some developments in the next few days.

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    Mark Knapp February 5, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    Andrew wrote:

    You have white privileges whether you want them or not, even if you are broke.

    Bicyclists are subjected to the dominant car culture every day.  They receive routine disrespect, violent threats, and even agonizing death.  That’s why I expect sanctimonious arguments about “white privilege” to go absolutely nowhere when directed toward those who are countercultural.  (And I use that term literally, not as a trendy fetish.)  While subjected continually to the tyranny of the dominant car culture, bicyclists have a natural empathy for those subjected to racial hatred.

    How much “white privilege” did Nick Bucher have?

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    trike February 5, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    jimminy crips the spectrum of assult has not been race or gender or sexual orentation spacific. it has been biker spacific. (as far as we know).

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    Disgusted chick February 5, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    yes, I am clearly very upset. and I have the typos to prove it. I think that you have been unaware how loaded the language you have used is. I appreciate that you open to “getting it”. I must also say that I have very dear friends that are white and women and cyclists. And I would be out there looking for folks if someone messed with them. They however IN YEARS of riding bikes through NoPo have not been bothered. Other than other cyclists trying to pick them up.

    The Pacific NW is a heavy recruiting area for white supremacists. Every few months or so flyers show up around town. And there are those who will use your words as an excuse to “retaliate”.

    As a pedestrian/driver, I try to stay aware of the cyclists around me. When I’m driving, I understand that my ADD can cost someone their life. I know that most of my friends are careful, safe bike riders. And that’s it’s my obligation to defer to a bike if I’m in a car nomatter what.

    If I can hold true to my obligation as a motorist REGARDLESS on whether I’m dealing with a good (follows traffic rules, wears helmets, etc) cyclist or a red-light running one, it is hope that y’all can do the same when it comes to “the black community”.

    To my knowledge, no black teenagers have drunkenly or carelessly murdered a cyclist behind the wheel of a car. Yet there are WAY more posts on these threads than on that one. Hmmmm.

    Cyclists of all ethnicities are under siege all over the city by all kinds of people. I worry about those that I love riding around on bikes. That should be my headline “BLACK PEOPLE LOVE CYCLISTS, TOO!”

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    teacher/social-advocate February 6, 2007 at 12:39 am

    Hey Disgusted chick #88 –

    “no black teenagers have drunkenly or carelessly murdered a cyclist behind the wheel of a car. Yet there are WAY more posts on these threads than on that one.”

    Have you taken a look at the close calls section on this site? There’s more than a couple listings posted about near auto accidents. In fact do you know of another, even better local website which advocates for the safety of cyclists (regardless of “types”) like this one????? Considering that almost getting hit by a car is not the nationwide hot button issue that racism is – I would say that the size of the close-calls section documents a good portion of Bikeportlands’ participants interests.

    Being a bunch of “white” “racists” “cyclists” doesn’t seem to be one of them. As I said in posts #45, and #83 I believe race plays a part – but, as best I can, I do not ignore the multiple directions of racism. Also, acknowledging that race plays a part in social tensions is not exactly providing secret weapons to hate groups!?

    Chill – and “chick?”

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    Jo Routens February 6, 2007 at 9:53 am

    How is color getting into this? I started “serious” cycling in 1968–teenagers of all colors, in all neighborhoods, are dumb animals when in packs and especially when driving! I have lived in the Portland area since 1977 and have never had a scare in N.PDX to compare to that given me by a bunch of white (probably) rich punks on Fairmount while they were trying out their mom’s Jetta @ 1993. I think that being at or near the age to gain driving privileges gives too many adolescents a feeling of looking down on cyclists. How about some propaganda aimed at teenagers, especially teen boys, to attempt to make driving feel less manly.
    “What kind of faggot needs a motorized can around them;” that kind of idea.

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    Disgusted chick February 6, 2007 at 10:34 am

    “teacher/social advocate”

    scapegoating black youth repeatedly in the media over bike safety when there is a clearly documented myriad of risks to bikers, is clearly not racism. I must be mistaken.


    Off to take a chill pill . . . . .

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    SKIDmark February 6, 2007 at 11:08 am

    I live in Beaverton, Morgan. If we are all conservative rednecks then why did we vote for David Wu? Keep gentrifying the City of Portland and you’ll all be joining me out here when you can’t afford to live “close-in” anymore. And then you will have to actually interact and get along with people of color instead of ignoring them on the train as you go from all-white microcosm to all-white microcosm.

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    teacher/social-advocate February 6, 2007 at 11:52 am

    “Disgusted chick”

    I think you and I are miscommunicating… or I think you’re keen on compositional fallacies.

    However, I could be wrong.

    Also, ‘Disgusted Chick’ regarding race and gender language, I would like to hear what you think about Douglas Hofstadter’s essay ‘A Person Paper on Purity in Language.’ I am sure you can find a free copy online.


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    Brad February 6, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    I second SKIDmark!

    I live in Hillsboro and get tired of all the ‘burb bashing. I hate to inform you of the actual diversity seen in Washington County compared to Portland. In fact, good ol’ WashCo has become more diverse in recent years since whites with money are forcing minorities from Portland to Beaverton and Hillsboro in search of affordable mortgages and rents.

    I live in a 60 unit townhome complex amongst African-Americans, Indians, Chinese, Pakistanis, and Latinos. It’s a nice place to be and my toddler daughter is growing up with lots of different people and cultures around her. I could get a second job and empty my retirement savings and move to “progressive” Portland where she could be exposed to nothing but tattoed high tax bracket white hipsters wearing suede Pumas, ironic trucker hats, and vintage 80’s tracksuits, sporting bad Mick Jagger circa 1968 haircuts and listening to The Shins in their BMW X5 while on their way to Bluehour for cocktails.

    I am truly amazed that with all the hood wearing, God fearin’, Toby Keith loving albinos we gots out here that we have bike lanes, a MAX train, and some elected Democrats representin’ us good ol’ boys. You are invited to check us out Morgan. I hopes it ain’t too dark or poor for ya. Wouldn’t want you to be uncomfortable.

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    Attornatus_Oregonensis February 6, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    “I could … move to “progressive” Portland where [there are] nothing but tattoed high tax bracket white hipsters wearing…”

    Don’t you see that you’re doing exactly the same thing you’re complaining about? Or do you just not have enough dignity to resist the tit-for-tat?

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    Brad February 6, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    Relax counselor! I’m just lampooning all of the armchair sociology and civic chest beating being practiced here of late. Far too many people in this city believe that seeing “Portland, OR” on their mail somehow makes them smarter, more culturally refined and better looking than those who don’t.

    Live where you like but don’t allow it to define your self-worth or the relative value of others. Pretense is not progress.

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    Attornatus_Oregonensis February 6, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    Can I at least still make fun of Gresham?

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    rixtir February 6, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    What’s John Gresham ever done to you?

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    Richard Lennox February 6, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    “Far too many people in this city believe that seeing “Portland, OR” on their mail somehow makes them smarter, more culturally refined and better looking than those who don’t.”

    Who specifically, Brad? Friends of friends’ enemies? ;P You’re still making a sweeping generalization, and that’s precisely what you were railing against. Sure, there are probably *some*, but the way you’re talking, it’s a substantial percentage of the city’s population.

    Let’s own up to it, folks: there are asshole scumbags gallivanting all around the surface of the planet, but gosh, I just don’t see a genuine concentration in anyone place. If there were, they’d have killed each other out of spit and we wouldn’t have a problem with them.

    Which is not to suggest we start an asshole colony, but… 🙂 Seriously, some individuals are idiots and do stupid, sometimes harmful things in their spare time. It’s got *nothing* to do with class, race, or geographical location…or at least, most of the time it doesn’t. It takes a lot of time and effort to conspire to exact a vendetta against any particular group, and anyone dealt with in this discussion, from the rowdy teenagers everyone seems so afraid of to the hostile drivers to the big bad hipsters bent on drowning everywhere in their excess cool-goo runoff to smug new-wave suburbanites (ha! see Brad, I made a *funny!*), are probably too dumb and/or self-absorbed to really make a concentrated effort.

    Seriously, it’s the *organized* jerkasses you should really be worried about. They’re scarifying.

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    jami February 6, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    disgusted chick, joe biden proved last week that even intelligent, educated, well-meaning people can say pretty stupid things if they haven’t given an issue, like the marginalization of black americans, enough thought.

    but do we have to say “of course slavery was a bitch and the holocaust sucked and we should really, really do something about sudan” before we get to talk about black teenagers attacking white cyclists for no reason you’re willing to admit?

    i don’t think i have to prove that i care about other issues to discuss this one honestly.

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    trike February 6, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    oh yay now that all you folks have beaten your chests and become estragen or testosterone enriched can we please get back to figuring out why?, what to do?, how to do it?, when to do it?, what to do till it is done?, and most importantly how to have fun (remember the fun thing?)while we do it oregon style?

    Im the one who is supposed to be the two meter troll not you!

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    Biker February 6, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    Don’t worry, if you know the secret anti-racist handshake, the next time the blacks gang up on you to beat the shit out of you while they shout racist epithets, they will suddenly leave you alone because they then will know you are not one of the whites they “need” to be attacking.

    After all, these many well-documented attacks on white cyclists in N/NE by packs of black hoodlums are about sophisticated analyses of gentrification, white guilt, and the redress of historical injustices, not run-of-the-mill teenage deliquency, bigotry and mindless Clockwork Orange style violence, right ?

    I still say the race of a brutal bully is no excuse for the bully’s savage and evil behavior. You are right…it may very well be one of the causes, but it is still no excuse.

    And I will still smack a black bully right upside the head with a steel chain just as quickly as a white bully, if they assault me. If that gets your leftist panties all in a bunch, I could fucking care less, quite frankly, because I want to live to see tomorrow.

    When someone is coming right at you to kick the living shit out of you, you quite simply don’t have the same time for the liberal catechism and arm-chair sociopolitical navel-gazing that you do down at the anarchist coffee place. Anyone who has ever had their ass thoroughly kicked probably understands this on some level. As for the rest of you, well, I really do pity you, for you will not know what to do when the real world comes a knockin’ on that coffee house door.

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    R. Dobbs February 6, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    @Bjorn #63

    WTF were you doing riding on MLK in the first place? Shit, I would have honked at you!

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    Biker February 6, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    Just because riding a bike down a major highway like MLK (99E) is idiotic and near-suicidal, does not mean it is illegal, or deserving of harassment from motorists.

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    c. cordray February 6, 2007 at 11:30 pm

    this is really interesting. i live on the dry side in hermiston, oregon and have deep roots in portland, gresham, molalla (yes, molalla). what is the problem with you guys. if someone on foot while you are on a bicycle is threatening you, get away from them. and as the poster said, if they are in a car, good luck. again, evasive action is in order. i agree with disgusted chick. i detect fear of blacks in these posts, and wonder if you are honest enough to admit that. teenagers are teenagers, and most of them, when in a ‘pack’ can become unruly, following the ‘strong’ one to save face. altho i do enjoy the pedantic verbal jousting on this very liberal (not that there is anything wrong with being liberal)site, realilty seems to escape most of you. i was also wondering why ride in what you call a dangerous area? stay out of there. there is a poster here who says he is a large fellow and doesn’t mind a fight if he has to engage in one. well, i am like him. i would not seek a fight, but would not run away from one either. i would wager that most ‘bullies’ recognize this attitude and leave him alone, as they do me. i carry weapons on the job and have been in government service 30+ years,mostly law enforcement, and have found most situations as you have described happening in ne portland are individual acts, not an endemic process. you cannot reason with a person or group
    who have the adrenaline flowing and are hell bent on causing trouble. you have rightly stated that we need to get fundamental in attempting to solve this situation. that can only happen in a one on one face to face dialogue in a setting where there is no threat or bias present. can you do that? someone touched on that earlier in what i thought was a well put argument for dialogue. i also have a concealed weapons permit, but believe me, once you have pulled the trigger, you cannot call that bullet back. unless you have been there, you have absolutely on inkling of what can happen to your soul once you have killed another person. trust me, i know. just because it was in vietnam doesn’t make it any easier. anyway, please, please drop all this pretentious bullshit, get off your bikes and walk into the neighborhood, get to know some of these young people, talk about how much you love riding bikes, etc., be prepared for put downs and forge ahead. talk, talk talk. i am a graduate of two crisis negotiation schools, and it all boils down to talking. see you on the seattle to portland ride.

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    Racially Profiled February 7, 2007 at 2:21 am

    get 10 of these, sync up the buttons, mount them on your bike pointing in all directions. good to go.

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    rixtir February 7, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    How about some ideas for positive ways bicyclists can connect with Portland’s black community?

    It turns out that this is Black History Month. What if the Portland cycling community organized a Major Taylor race in NE? Maybe for kids?

    It’s too late this year, but not to late to organize a Major Taylor *Ride*.

    How about some other ideas for some positive ?

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    adam February 7, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    this is a great debate. I wonder, however, where we can direct all of this energy and passion?

    We have so much collective talent from the peaceful dreamer Doves to the articulate attorneys and teachers to the earger vigilant warrior types. This, friends, is a sign of our strength – together.

    Obviously, the public servants who are supposed to be concerned with public safety are too busy, corrupt, incompetant or whatever to care or to be effective.

    So, it is up to “us” to make our city a place that we can all be pround of. Not, the White “us”. Not the SE, NE, SW, Pearl whatever “us”.

    As many of you know, I am fond of confrontational language and provocation in general. So, I have been and I am willing to continue to be one of the people who speak out against our common enemies. Jonathan has put in 1000s of hours being a reporter and a relationship developer.

    What are YOU willing to do, community members? The time for Action is now. Pick up the gauntlet in the way that you feel will do the most postive work.


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    spencer May 4, 2007 at 8:27 am

    I log it since there is really no other place to log it. I commute daily from St. Johns down to downtown, and three time on my return trip via N. Williams I have had groups of teenage black kids jeer and jump out into the street. Now I know they are just being punks, but when people are actually getting attacked it makes me fearful.

    When I get fearful I get cautious and now I start to vear away from any group of black teenagers I see on the street. Some might call this racist, but what am I to do? I think the black community leaders, if they really beleive in harmonious race relations, need to talk to their people. The althernative is that “us and them”ism starts to develop and that never leads to anywhere good.

    My 2 cents

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    rideOn May 18, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    “Here I just want to point out that Brian is just plain wrong. N/NE has ALWAYS been a black neighborhood ever since Portland was created. These people do historically have a claim to these areas and I think it’s sad that we’ve disrespected that precedent to the point of inspiring violence.”

    This is not correct. Most of the black population moved to Portland for work during and after WWII. They were pushed into several existing neighborhoods by laws that did not allow them to buy or rent anywhere else. Go ride through Irvington and tell me that some 5 bedroom 4 bath mansion was built for a black factory worker.

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    rideOn May 23, 2007 at 11:16 am

    I did some more research on this. Albina (now inner NE) was, in fact, settled by Germans and Russians.

    So yes, it was a primarily “black” neighborhood, but only after WWII, when black workers were given no other choice but to move there.

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    Ben August 28, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    I’ve tried to read all of these comments and no one is looking for other ways to help with prevention??? I bike through mlk and ne going intersection at night probably once a week and every time I think to myself, why is this the darkest, most poorly lit area when it is a major bike crossing of a major street? Crime goes way down in well lit areas. During the day this intersection is a huge game of frogger with cars. Some cyclist aggressively dart in front of cars, others would sit all day until finely a car is kind enough to initiate stopping so they can pass.

    My vote would be to put up some very bright street lights all around that intersection and also to install a crosswalk light. This will help cars see cyclist and pedestrians better and help cyclist know when it’s safe to cross. We have created a situation where people, regardless of race, are forced into a defensive position both in and out of their car. When people’s backs are against the way that’s when they react, and case and point the violence starts.

    Cut down the overgrown shrubs in between the lanes on mlk. I have driven down mlk enough to see people slow down and allow cyclist to cross because they are slightly more visible than pedestrians. Drive another 50 feet and the same cars almost run pedestrians off the road. The street is poorly designed for anyone trying to cross. Add lack of lighting and in my opinion you have years of frustration starting to yield its ugly head. Also, kids are bored but school starts back up Tuesday. This stuff will slow down once school starts up.

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    Khy September 10, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    “Are bikes somehow symbolic of whites and gentrification to the eyes black community? I’m not sure…”

    No, maybe its the gentrification that looks like gentrification in their eyes.

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