A number of friends from outside Oregon have asked “what the *** is going on in Portland” and have asked for my thoughts. One wrote “I’d be interested in your personal observations knowing that most news sources are biased one way or another.” My response 10 days ago:
“Well, there have been a LOT of peaceful protests. Like 50+ days of them. People march, there are speeches, there are chants, and then they mostly go home. A small number hang around, and more show up after the peaceful protesters go home (since peaceful is not their thing), and some of them are avowed anarchists and actual vandals. These people are out to do bad things. It may have originally been triggered by the death of George Floyd but for these small number, they come out to raise havoc. It had slowly been subsiding, and things were slowing down, police were finally catching a break, and fewer people were showing up and doing bad things. We were almost back to normal.
“And then the President decided he needed a photo op – this time of a city in flames, out of control, under siege, and to demonstrate how he sent troops in to restore order and take back the streets. Of course, none of this was true but sending in federal troops nevertheless resulted in a major flare-up – exactly what Trump wanted for his new pivot to a ‘law and order’ campaign.
“The city was not in flames. And the city has never been under siege. In fact, before I even heard what the President and his media channels were saying about Portland, I was walking around downtown and everything was Covid normal – yes, some graffiti and boarded up windows from the first nights of the Floyd protests, but not much since then. Violence (with rare exceptions) is uncommon and confined to an area within a block from the police/justice/federal buildings.
“This is not about violent protesters roaming the streets striking out at people and businesses. It is about (a) a ton of people demonstrating peacefully by day and doing NO violence to people or property, and (b) a small number of people dedicated to violence who square off against the cops and try to provoke them. Idiots. Selfish idiots. And they are doing so much harm to the cause of racial justice. And they are giving Trump his campaign commercial.”
Not much has changed since I penned that 10 days ago, except that my comment that “they are doing so much harm to the cause of racial justice” was amplified last week by the head of the Portland chapter of the NAACP in a Washington Post editorial:
“As the demonstrations continue every night in Portland, many people with their own agendas are co-opting, and distracting attention from, what should be our central concern: the Black Lives Matter movement.”
It has been boringly predictable. Late at night, the hard-core few start tossing firecrackers at the federal building, and try to tear down the chain link fence surrounding it. The feds then come out from behind the doors, and they respond in kind, and being laughably ill-trained for this task, they frequently over-react. Violence begets violence. Blame begets blame. The two groups feed off each other, and the people who despise Trump lose all sense of how this is playing out on a national stage, and play right into the false Trump narrative.
There are 30,207 city blocks in Portland. The protests you see on TV involve only a few blocks, meaning that over 30,200 city blocks are untouched by the nightly theatrics. Most days I go to my office downtown, and yes it is safe to walk all over downtown including the area around the federal courthouse and the justice center – just stay a couple of blocks away after 9 or 10pm.
This past Sunday afternoon, between the “riots, violence, and pandemonium” on Saturday night, and the “riots, violence, and pandemonium” on Sunday night, I decided to go for a walk in downtown Portland:
A quick health update for those interested (and the rest of you please feel free to bail now): I’m doing much better. Most of the radiation burns are gone. I am mostly pain-free. My tongue remains swollen and my speech somewhat garbled, but those who listen to me say it’s better than they expected. It will get even better as the swelling goes down. And if it doesn’t, they’ll go in and snip the excess away. My taste buds are coming back slowly. The fact that I have any taste at all is better than what I was prepared for. I have a PetScan coming up next week to confirm that all the cancer is gone. Thanks everyone who is still reading for thinking of me during the last 4+ months.