(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.