Portland and justice and George Floyd

Posted by on April 21st, 2021 at 5:50 pm

A participant in a protest for George Floyd on June 4th, 2020.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Guilty on all counts. Nearly a year after he George Floyd was killed, a Minneapolis jury came to the right conclusion.

Yesterday’s verdict was historic. Now the work continues and will expand beyond the protests in the street that defined America in the wake of Floyd’s death.

Our fight as transportation reform activists is really about public spaces. We fight to make them welcoming and safe, and we fight in them when we ride and protest. Our job is to make streets safer for everyone — no matter how they use them or what their social, economic, political, or racial background is.

Like many of you, I marched and took part in many protests over the past year. Being in the streets with so many people is way to feel power and hold power to account. Every time I went out, I felt a little better about the world and the people I share it with.

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I am so grateful for the people who were out there every night, and all the organizers and mutual aid groups who made #PortlandProtests possible. So many of you strapped “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice for George Floyd” signs on your bikes. Our city’s inspiring activism in the streets was — and will continue to be — a bright spot in a dark time for America.

I was really moved to see that George Floyd’s brother Rodney Floyd gave a shout-out to Portland at a press conference right after the verdicts came down. Here’s what he said:

“… I would like to thank all the advocates, the activists. I’d like to thank the people that stayed in these streets, marching night and day. People in Portland stayed on the streets, what, 83 days? I think I may be wrong, but thankful for everybody that stayed out there, making a statement with us and cared about us in our dark days, dark nights…”

See you in the streets.

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

I’m happy for the verdict. Not so happy about the continued violence and property destruction here in Portland that is being perpetrated in the false name of racial justice. It needs to end.

Adam
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Adam

Word.

Granpa
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Granpa

Fighting is listed as a use of street space but general transportation is not. The guilty verdict is welcomed with a sense of relief. Still I increasingly question the editorial stance of this blog. Many like me loathe societal inequalities, ride bicycles and crave safe spaces, but also detest the wanton destruction of public spaces at the hands of Portland’s anarchists who this blog seems to give a free pass

CaptainKarma
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CaptainKarma

I increasingly appreciate the editorial stance of this blog. The issues at hand are given lip service at best in the corporatocracy. A frank and open discussion is the only way forward. When the government has become inflexible and unresponsive, citizens will become flexible and reponsive, however they can

GlowBoy
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GlowBoy

We in Minneapolis thank the well-intentioned people of Portland who have pushed for justice for George Floyd and kept attention focused (more or less) on police violence, but we have also watched with a mixture of bemusement and disappointment as so much of the action appears to have been led with white people. If white people grabbed the megaphone and started trying to lead a protest around here, they’d get shouted down real fast. It just looks bad, folks. We white people are there to support BIPOC and stand behind them, not in front of them. Even in a city that is only 6% Black, can’t you let them do the speaking?

GlowBoy
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GlowBoy

And to report the situation on the ground in Minneapolis: the mood has been one of calm resolve. The crowd gathered in George Floyd Square the night of the verdict was not celebratory for the most part, but thankful for this verdict and with a strong acknowledgement that the fight has just begun. Not much has been done in the last 11 months to reform police accountability, and racial inequalities that underlie all this have actually widened drastically in that time. As in many states, legislation that would actually ensure police accountability is blocked, in our case in our Republican-controlled Senate, which almost a year after George Floyd’s death refuses to even hold hearings on a solutions that have repeatedly been proposed here since 1970.

The other overwhelming feeling, though, is also one of relief. As bad as it was, the $500 million of devastation we suffered last year was limited to a couple of commercial districts. I don’t know ONE single person who didn’t fear that if Chauvin hadn’t been convicted, the resulting wave of outrage might have been even more widespread and damaging. Everyone was on edge, and no one wanted that outcome. The tension on the streets since mid-March was unlike anything I’ve ever felt. The palpable sense of dread at what could happen was reinforced by Daunte Wright’s killing during the trial by a small suburban police force: it is ever more clear that in the future EVERY questionable police killing is going to result in large-scale protests … AND that it’s not just an issue in the big bad inner city. It can happen in Brooklyn Center, or Falcon Heights (as with Philando) … or Gladstone, or Tigard. We all need to get serious about addressing the underlying problems.

The Dude
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The Dude

Maybe those of you who are obsessed with property destruction by so-called anarchists in Portland should stop complaining for a moment and ask yourself why we have this behavior in our community in the first place. You like to portray them as mindless and wanton, but there’s more to the story.