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Three days of resistance and a fight for our streets

Posted by on July 20th, 2020 at 4:44 pm

The presence of federal troops in Portland has galvanized Portlanders and there’s been a resurgence of protests at the Justice Center.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

We will never have “safe streets” until everyone feels safe using them. That ostensibly obvious and simple concept has become anything but in the past few months since George Floyd was choked to death by a police officer in Minneapolis.

Whether you are Black or brown and/or exercising your First Amendment rights — our streets and public spaces have become nightly battlegrounds in a fight for basic rights. For over 50 days now Portland has responded to the urgent need for reform of racist policies and an unaccountable, over-militarized police bureau by hosting dozens of weekly gatherings, protests, marches, and direct actions. This outpouring of community organizing and resiliency has only gotten stronger as the failings of Mayor Ted Wheeler to control the PPB and protect our city from Trump’s secret police become more apparent with each passing day.

The lack of competent, forceful leadership from city hall and the domestic terrorism by Trump’s troops has led a growing number of Portlanders — from an ever-widening slice of our population — to hit the streets. The ranks of the bicycle brigade that protects protestors from car and truck drivers has swelled, new activist groups have sprung up overnight, veteran protestors have become more organized, mutual aid groups have stepped up in support, and local journalists have kept us informed.

The way I see it, participation in this resistance isn’t optional. We can either sit idly by and let Trump’s fascist dreams become reality or we can stand up and fight back.

For the past three nights I’ve watched and participated in events from right outside my front door in north Portland to the nightly flashpoint at the Justice Center downtown.

Here are some of the scenes I’ve come across…

A “violent anarchist” this is not.


Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, shown here speaking on Friday evening, has been the strongest leader from Portland City Council. She recently told Mayor Ted Wheeler to either get control of the PPB or hand the bureau over to her. He declined.


Portland mayoral hopeful Sarah Iannarone has been a mainstay at the protests. And that’s Milwaukie Mayor and former candidate for U.S. Congress Mark Gamba on the right.

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Group photo of first gathering of the Wall of Moms Saturday night — one women’s random idea that has sparked a global movement.


The omnipresent bike brigade keeps getting bigger and more effective.




Many of the people who come downtown each night arrive by bike.


This guy yelled “Go home!” and was taunting heavily-armed federal troops as they marched through the park.


Bike helmets have (sadly) become de rigueur as concerns of indiscriminate firing of “crowd control munitions” have escalated.


Wall of Moms has changed a lot of hearts and minds about who is protesting and why.


Copious amounts of toxic tear gas clouding our city every night has become a major part of Ted Wheeler’s legacy.

Whose streets? Our streets!

See you out there.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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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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David Hampsten
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David Hampsten

Just curious, but are the protests entirely downtown and in inner neighborhoods? Or have they spread to East Portland? Has there been anything at say 122nd & Division, the busiest intersection in the city? Or at Gateway?

Todd/Boulanger
Guest

The PPA incident was North Portland Lombard at Interstate…not sure if that would be considered an ‘inner neighborhood’.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

No, that’s pretty outer, IMO. Thanks!

captnhaddock
Guest
captnhaddock

there have been protests *edit* outside of downtown */edit*, but not in the same way. and we’re still only talking about very localized and LOCAL ORGANIZED & SUPPORTED rallies. Portland is NOT under-siege as the media might lead you to believe. We are simply protesting, as is our right, against a facisist death cult and their insane leader.

HJ
Guest
HJ

There have been some smaller BLM protests west side in Cedar Mill and Beaverton.

rain panther
Guest
rain panther

I’ve seen and heard of lots of quiet small-scale gatherings scattered through neighborhoods, usually in the afternoon, with people lining the streets or sidewalks holding signs in support of BLM.

Bobcycle
Guest
Bobcycle

Thanks Jonathan for the coverage. Great pictures

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

The use of armed federal agents is interesting, if rather ironic. Many of the personnel are ex-soldiers and are far more likely to be Latinx and Black than the population in general (and far more likely than in Portland, of course.) As we discovered while trying to provide sanctuaries for illegal immigrant here in NC, the US border extends 100 miles from every coast as well as from Canada and Mexico, so Florida for example is entirely within the jurisdiction of the US Border Patrol, as is Portland, Seattle, etc. but not for example Denver or Nashville, or even Bend. The US Border Patrol apparently can legally detain anyone they deem suspicious within this 100 mile buffer without needing to deal much with due process and the US constitution, but the likelihood of anyone encountering a Border Patrol agent outside of a border crossing is pretty slim…except apparently now in Portland. I suspect the unmarked officers randomly kidnapping (and releasing) protesters and other civilians are probably either ICE or US Border Patrol agents – they are among the few agencies that can get away with such shenanigans. Over 50% of Border Patrol agents are Latinx.

bendite
Guest
bendite

I imagine there will be several lawsuits that will clarify the Constitutionality of their actions, specifically detaining people without probable cause and not identifying themselves while doing it.

Dead Salmon
Guest
Dead Salmon

I suspect watching them vandalized property, remove plywood from windows, break the glass and start fires will be sufficient probably cause, don’t you?

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

I can’t see how burning dumpsters or breaking glass benefits racial justice or demonstrates a moral high ground. BUt Portland Athena displayed such courage, poise and grace, standing nude before the trigger happy feds that the conviction of the protesters can not be doubted. Knock off the destruction and protest with poise, dignity and grace. Apparently clothing is optional

HJ
Guest
HJ

50 something former Navy officer did that and had multiple bones broken as his reward. He was literally standing still as a statue (fully clothed wearing a Navy shirt) as they beat and pepper sprayed him. He just wanted to talk to the officers. So clearly that whole kumbaya approach is working great.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

You deride the navy vet’s non violent gesture as if it were equivalent to a Girl Scout sing along. Courageous non violence is exactly what is needed. Violence begets violence and changes nothing as is shown by the redundancy of the nightly demonstrations. I thought the demonstrators were against police violence but the tactics of trying to ruin public spaces and hurt police officers is not winning hearts and minds of the people. Those are actions of a mob that detracts from the meaning of the protests. The moral high ground will win and that high ground is not held by perpetuating chaos. Peace out

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

How many police officers have been hurt again? Zero.

Turn of the fox news dude, that might help your understanding of the situation.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

I wrote “trying to ruin public spaces and hurt police”. Shooting fireworks at them, throwing rocks and,bricks at them and directing lasers at them are efforts to hurt the police. I know the majority of the participants in these protests are peaceful but vandalism and destruction occurs and is (apparently) enabled by the majority. The wilding and chaos plays right into Trump’s agenda that he can show Ohio and Texas that liberal states like Oregon are out of control and wrong thinking. Step out of your echo Chamber of intercongratulation, dude, and see the aggressive protesters are pawns in a bigger political game.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

It’s just a few bad apples 🙂

Brent
Guest
Brent

“I know the majority of the participants in these protests are peaceful but vandalism and destruction occurs and is (apparently) enabled by the majority. ”

I understand it is easy to make this accusation. It is common to judge a group and their message by the worst (or best) examples. I encourage you not to do that here or in any other aspect of your life.

The truth is that the vast majority of protesters are not violent AND do not condone or enable the violence. There have been many instances where destruction has been stopped by other protesters. Before the feds came, there were regular discussions between representatives of the protest and the police to try to focus enforcement on the violent people taking advantage of the protests.

I’m not denying the very real destruction and violence that happened, but at the very least the blame should be shared between the protesters and the police.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

@JM did you moderate at my post in response to Granpa?

No. – Jonathan

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Trump isn’t going to win Oregon, nor California, Washington, Minnesota, Illinois, the New England states, nor New York. We all know that, including Trump himself; he’ll win for sure in Texas and a series of smaller mid-western and plains states. Those who voted for Trump in 2016 will likely vote for him again in 2020; those who voted for Clinton in 2016, a slightly larger number, will almost definitely vote for Biden in 2020. Again, this is common knowledge. Keep in mind, whoever gets the most votes could still lose the election, as it is Electoral Votes that count.

What concerns both Biden and Trump is how the other 45% of registered voters, mostly independents but also a lot of moderate Republicans, who didn’t vote in 2016 will react to the news and campaigns this year. Will they stay home again? Or will they go and vote? And if so, for whom? But what is really key is how these non-affiliated voters will react (or not react) to the any news in those large states that could swing their overall votes in either direction, states like Florida, Georgia, SC, NC, Virginia, Pennsylvania, & Ohio, which have had a huge impact in the previous 10 or presidential elections.

While Portland may be getting a lot of moral support from other Democratic Party-run states and cities, and condemnation on FOX, it’s the reaction of these swing states that matters most.

So try to imagine our reaction in NC to seeing large crowds of overwhelmingly white people attacking armored federal troops who are more than likely black and Latinx. We have riots too, but they get dispersed overnight, and if they get too out of hand, our Democratic Party city councils call in the National Guard. So we wonder, why hasn’t Portland called in the National Guard yet? If Black Lives Matter and you want to defund your police, why are you attacking federal buildings, defacing them, and attacking federal police? Where is the connection there? The Feds are the good guys, the ones who won the civil war, enforced desegregation of schools, etc.

So yeah, the longer you riot, the more votes Trump gets in the swing states and the fewer that go to Biden. Way to go guys, thank you for working for the Trump campaign!

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

Do you have any evidence to back up any of your claims that this is helping him in swing states or is it just stuff you made up because it fits your preconceived notions?

The people who are upset by the “riots” in Portland already solely consumer conservative media and were already going to vote trump.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Why should we be upset if Portland residents want to wreck their own city? We in NC don’t give a crap. Portland is the largest city in an otherwise utterly unimportant state with just 7 electoral votes, versus NC’s 15, and Oregon ALWAYS votes for the Democratic Party, whereas NC’s vote varies. But the message that’s being sent to us, rightly or wrongly, is that neither the Portland mayor nor the governor of Oregon control their most important business district – that they have in fact “lost control.”

In the past, when voter turnout in the swing states was low, the incumbent president always won; the only upsets came when voter participation was unusually high. If those 45% vote, they’ll more likely vote Biden; but if they don’t vote, Trump will win in the swing states again and take the election. How they vote in NY, OR, CA, or TX, and how much, simply doesn’t matter – we already know the outcome.

Joseph E
Guest
Joseph E

“But the message that’s being sent to us … neither the Portland mayor nor the governor of Oregon control their most important business district”
That message is simply incorrect. These protests are not taking place in the business district, they are in the civic center area, in the park and streets between City Hall and the city office building and the Justice Center and Federal Courthouse. That’s a 9 square block area (3 by 3 blocks) which is all city or federal land with no private businesses.

Deebo
Guest
Deebo

There are very, very few people that would attempt to claim that downtown Portland is not a business district. You’re splitting hairs, especially considering that you’re responding to someone supposedly from NC.

X
Guest
X

You think what happens in Portland outweighs this president’s conspicuous corruption and utter lack of competence in executing even their own self-serving, racist, xenophobic and openly fascist agenda? “Hold your nose and vote for Trump” is an idea that can only exist in the minds of the wilfully blind.

X
Guest
X

Nesting fail, was reply to DH.

I support the BLM movement, if that’s not clear. After 401 years of exploitation under color of law, organized religion and brutal force, “just be patient” is insulting.

It’s a really unfortunate outcome if a long-delayed move toward racial justice gets lost in a state’s rights beef.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

NY Times opinion section, with which I agree.

Todd/Boulanger
Guest

I saw that footage and almost thought the officer was beating someone in front of the Navy vet…since the Navy vet did not move when hit. Then I realized he was being savagely being beaten …and for a provocation I could not see.

Kana O.
Guest
Kana O.

Knock off the destruction and protest with poise, dignity and grace.

I guess it must be said at least once more: let’s not pretend that non-disruptive protest has led to many gains in rights for disenfranchised people. These issues are not new. The campaign to end disenfranchisement is not new. These issues were well and broadly understood in the right places before this comprehensive tome wrapped it all up. None of this has been enough to effect change.

The oft-cited non-violent civil disobedience approach taken by many civil rights activists in the 50s and 60s (the approach you are probably thinking of when you ask for a protest with “poise, dignity and grace”, an approach whose gains have been and are being eroded, an approach that has been revisionistically sanitized and weaponized for use against any protest that doesn’t look like MLK and Co. walking arm and arm across the Edmund Pettus bridge singing “We Shall Overcome” (which is what most of the protests actually look like today)) was also then decried as too disruptive. And were met with police brutality. There is no acceptable form of protest and that is the point—it is a protest. I guess someone is going to think about the optics of the protest method, but that is beside the grievance being expressed. It is on leadership to deescalate and try to understand and respond to broad and sustained public outcry. That doesn’t appear to be happening.

However, I do wonder what changes would cause the small minority of folks who are causing property damage (and serving as a poor excuse for local and federal enforcers to kidnap and brutalize the people they are charged with protecting) to stand down and stop that behavior. Do they have specific asks?

But also, how many more nights do both sides have to gear up (50+ nights in a row!) before the mayor asks his thugs to stand down and bring folks to the table so that the protestors no longer have a reason to protest? Does it happen at 60 days? Does it happen when the protestors have been sufficiently well-behaved (whatever that means) for long enough? Does it happen when someone has adequately made the case to the mayor that this is a problem that needs addressing and until he does something he shouldn’t expect frustrated people to roll over?

The mayor says he doesn’t want federal intervention. And he’s right that he doesn’t seem to need any help violating our rights and being non-responsive to local priorities.

dwk
Guest
dwk

“does it happen at 60 days”
Keep it up, maybe 100 will do. I guess you think the public is so dumb they did not get the point after a couple weeks….. so condescending…

Kana O.
Guest
Kana O.

If the message was received, where is the action? The change?

Dead Salmon
Guest
Dead Salmon

There will be little change. You are not going to remove the police. When you hear someone break into your home, you call 911 and expect a prompt response. We pay big money in taxes for that service.
The main thing that needs to happen are rules for police to GET OFF of people who are detained so they can breath. Fight until they are cuffed, fine, then get them to a position where they can breath. Not like George Floyd, and not like Tony Timpa in Dallas:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6X4PUwrq8tA

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

Anyone with some history in Portland knows that wilding anarchists have rattled the city for decades. They have no “asks” or concessions that would prompt them to stand down.

How long to continue the protests? Run it up to November and see how the demonstrations influence national politics. (Please no!)
If Portland police would stand with the demonstrators against Trump’s troops healing could begin

Kana O.
Guest
Kana O.

+1 Would love to see the PPB stand with protestors.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I agree this would be great, or if the protesters stood with the mayor in his efforts to eject the feds.

It probably would have been easier before the months of confrontation and low level violence hardened everyone involved. Maybe the larger menace of the feds will cause everyone to set aside their anger and unite against a common, more sinister foe. But probably not.

Alan 1.0
Subscriber

Me too, as I said last week.

I’d also love Wheeler (and Lovell, and Turner) to read his books and learn from former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper’s wisdom.

I, too, don’t expect either to happen, but if they would do so, they could massively deescalate the misbehaviors and put the fed goons in the worst possible light (not that they have any good angle to view them).

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

Add Officer Patrick Skinner (former CIA operations officer) to Wheeler’s reading list: https://www.npr.org/2020/06/04/869282857/police-officers-during-protests-are-resembling-soldiers-in-war-zones
(also @SkinnerPM and op-eds behind WaPo’s paywall)

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

Thank goodness some folks kept going to work….vs mixing it up with the feds..

What’s the mission here? What’s the legal change that needs to happen?

dwk
Guest
dwk

The “protests” are mainly just redundant and killing small business owners in downtown.
At this point no one cares except Trump. They are just helping his failed administration with no
point. BLM is just an afterthought now. The pandemic has a lot of people in real financial trouble. You would think maybe the protests would concern themselves with that.

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

Everybody has their own filter that they cram the facts into to make it seem true.

Brian
Guest
Brian

I read that a Dads group joined the courageous Moms last night. Is there info out there anywhere about a continued Dad effort? Or is it safe to assume it will always be at the same time/place each night?

katew
Guest
katew

Thank you for sharing this side of the story, Jonathan. For health reasons, I’m unable to currently participate in person. I’m glad to see so many people showing up to fight injustice! Stay safe and keep it up!

Bikeninja
Guest
Bikeninja

I am in full agreement with the protests ( except for property destruction and especially the elk statue) but the movement needs to cast a wider net. The federal troops are not just a manifestation of Trump but an inevitable consequence of 20 ( maybe 60 years) of imperial wars and occupation throughout the world. No Empire or large scale military power in history has gotten away with invasions, occupations, renditions and torture outside the country without those same things creeping back inside the home country. It is unrealistic, to hope we can halt fascistic thuggery at home when we still implement it full tilt abroad. This is the thing that MLK realized and verbalized in his Riverside Church speech near the end of his time on earth. Ending our occupations of Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan and shutting down secret prisons and torture sites though out the world must happen if we have any hope of justice at home. It can be summarized by a reversal of the popular chant at many a rally, No Peace No Justice.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

Can we declare auto traffic an unlawful assembly? They gather in masses, are intent on breaking the law while doing it, and recklessly injure and kill people. Let’s get these terrorists off the streets!

Alan 1.0
Subscriber