Portland Police Attacks on Protestors Part of a Historical Legacy of Violence

(By Joseph Orosco, August 14, 2018)

Alexander Reid Ross and Shane Burley have really important new article detailing the latest developments on the police violence that followed the Proud Boys/Patriot Prayer rally in Portland on August 4th.  Multiple sources immediately came out and indicated that the Portland Police Bureau deployed flash bang grenades and shot pepper ball rounds at antifa protestors after the Proud Boy gathering was winding down. Morever, the Portland Police claim that they did so after officers were attacked with projectiles from the protestors did not appear to be true based on activist video clips.  Several human rights organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, have officially expressed concern and called for investigations.

Reid Ross and Burley write:

“Over the past two years, Patriot Prayer has led frequent demonstrations with the apparent support of white nationalist organizations and the Proud Boys, a radical-right fraternity. Often mixing in far-right talking points and alt-right agitation, the organization has become a thorn in Portland’s side, prompting mass-organized counter-protests that the Patriot Prayer attendees use as an invitation to attack demonstrators.

At another event on June 30, the Patriot Prayer crowd, led largely by the Proud Boys, initiated a series of attacks in clashes with anti-fascist protesters leading to a level of brutality unprecedented in Portland’s recent history. The violence had been escalating as the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer continued to stoke resentment against the relatively progressive city, and what they felt was unfair treatment at their rallies by both police and community members.

As the dust settled from the June 30 attack, which left several people arrested and in the hospital, Gibson announced the follow up for Aug. 4 while denouncing the police’s response. This surprised many counter-protesters, who insist that the Portland Police Bureau focused their crowd-dispersal methods — including chemical weapons and exploding “flash grenades” — almost exclusively on the left while actively protecting Patriot Prayer from advancing crowds.”

As I was reading this piece, I was also reading the graphic novel March, Book One, by Congressman John Lewis, which details his early activist days.  In particular it talks about his involvement in the Nashville student lunch counter sit-ins in 1960.  He points out that very often the white thugs would be allowed into the stores by store owners and they would proceed to beat up the students.  The police would be nearby but never intervene except when the white thugs had already gone.  Then they would come in and arrest the students for disorderly conduct.  You can watch a little of how that went down in this video from a documentary (CW: for white supremacist violence against young African American students):

I guess the lesson here is that when it comes to police action regarding protests, the more things change the more things stay the same.


What’s Wrong with Assigning a Barcode to the Houseless to Give Them Services?

By Mathilda Bickers (August 13, 2018)

Look, to the people who like this or don’t think it’s that bad—I get how from your perspective it seems acceptable.

But seriously, REALLY REALLY THINK about what it’s like to be houseless, to lack shelter, and the barriers this not-tangible money that is held by a third person, the barriers to using this money.

If you’re houseless, do you have a phone? If you have a phone, where do you charge it? Here in the States, people are arrested and fined for using outlets that seem public, that may be in a public space (malls, stores, bars, &c) but aren’t actually. Do you have a job? Where do you shower so you can show up clean to your job? Where do you keep your stuff while you shower so it’s safe but doesn’t get wet? Where do you go to the bathroom between the hours of 5pm and 9am? What do you wipe with? Where did you get what you wiped with? What did you do with what you used to wipe after you wiped? All of that can get you arrested.

And then, how do you sign up to get a caseworker who will give you your barcode? What hurdles do you have to jump through? How much personal info do you have to peel off and reveal to this stranger to get access to the change that other strangers may or may not deign to give you by scanning your barcode? Who decides what part of that info will be accessible to strangers and what won’t? How will you access the money? Will you be given a card? Will the card have limits on what it can pay for? What if, like some social workers I have known, your caseworker decides that you have been difficult and you need to face consequences for being difficult? What happens if the caseworker abuses the money, or you? What happens to the money if the caseworker decides you can’t be part of the program anymore? What if you want to spend the money on something that makes life livable NOW so you can make it through the day, but you aren’t allowed to do that?

The basic problem of living with a modicum of hygiene, let alone dignity, is a mountain that houseless people face every day, and cash in hand can help make that mountain a little smaller, can buy access to a bathroom, or even a motel, or just something to make it more bearable for a little while.