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.
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 email@example.com
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