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,
6/8/06.]

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.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

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Casey
Guest

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.

R. Dobbs
Guest
R. Dobbs

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,

3…
2…
1…

R. Dobbs
Guest
R. Dobbs

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!

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

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…

3…
2..
1.

Diondatta
Guest
Diondatta

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.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Guest

Guys,

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

Thank you.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
Guest
Attornatus_Oregonensis

“…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?

Morgan
Guest
Morgan

“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.

R. Dobbs
Guest
R. Dobbs

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.

Morgan
Guest
Morgan

R. Dobbs,

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

R. Dobbs
Guest
R. Dobbs

@Morgan

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.

Rixtir
Guest
Rixtir

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.

felix
Guest

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.

Biker
Guest
Biker

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.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
Guest
Attornatus_Oregonensis

“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!!

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Guest

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.

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

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.

jami
Guest

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.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
Guest
Attornatus_Oregonensis

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.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Guest

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.

brad
Guest
brad

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.

Macaroni
Guest
Macaroni

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

SKiDmark
Guest
SKiDmark

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.

Biker
Guest
Biker

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 ?

rainperimeter
Guest
rainperimeter

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.

adam
Guest
adam

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.

SKiDmark
Guest
SKiDmark

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.

beth
Guest

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.

Michaelk
Guest
Michaelk

Attornatus_Oregonensis:

“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.

Carol
Guest
Carol

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,
Carol

organic brian
Guest
organic brian

“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:
http://www.shift2bikes.org/contacts/

“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.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
Guest
Attornatus_Oregonensis

“[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?

Attornatus_Oregonensis
Guest
Attornatus_Oregonensis

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.

Adam8
Guest
Adam8

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.”
–Skidmark

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.

Adam8
Guest
Adam8

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

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?

Rixtir
Guest
Rixtir

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.

PFin
Guest

rainperimeter,

where’d your incident happen?

Thx,
A Cassetted Former Co-Lehrsman

Attornatus_Oregonensis
Guest
Attornatus_Oregonensis

“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.

Biker
Guest
Biker

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.

rainperimeter
Guest
rainperimeter

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

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

“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?

SKiDmark
Guest
SKiDmark

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.

MaTa
Guest

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 – http://www.udap.com/defense.htm. (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. . . .

organic brian
Guest
organic brian

“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.
http://bikeportland.org/2007/01/14/cyclists-attacked-near-legacy-hospital/

“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,”
http://www.ccrh.org/comm/slough/oral/jdouglas.htm

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

Biker
Guest
Biker

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:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanport,_Oregon

teacher/social-advocate
Guest
teacher/social-advocate

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.

bye!

nuovorecord
Guest
nuovorecord

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.

Rixtir
Guest
Rixtir

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.”

SKiDmark
Guest
SKiDmark

There is a BIG difference between integration and gentrification.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

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

Carl
Guest
Carl

“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.