Another protest took place last night in my neighborhood, at the edge of which lies the unfortunate home of the local ICE facility.

Around 11pm we heard a siren, then more sirens. Stepping out onto our 19th floor balcony, I noticed one squad car after another circling our building, sirens blaring, lights flashing. I counted at least 4 squad cars and 4 motor cops. By midnight, around 100 to 200 people congregated in the middle of the main intersection adjacent to our condo. Amoeba-like, the crowd first moved one way, then with no apparent motivating cause, switched course, then after awhile, switched direction again. A picnic table once again was dragged into the center of the street. I kept waiting for this one to be lit on fire like the one last week, but the crowd ultimately left without any incendiary activities. A couple of people even moved the picnic table back onto the sidewalk. By 1am, we were able to head back to bed. A walk around the neighborhood this morning revealed no apparent vandalism.

Nonetheless, there is a certain vulnerability that you feel when you are surrounded by events – potentially violent – outside your control. Our safety was never at risk, and yet I had a dim sense what it would be like to feel vulnerable to violence.

I am not sure what these midnight romps accomplish. Organized and peaceful marches have gained the support and participation of millions of people across the country. Those marches have changed minds, and have brought to the fore the need for racial justice and changes in policing. That is how you change society. A midnight march through a residential neighborhood? Sorry, it just pisses people off.

Having observed over 50 years of protests, beginning with the student riots of the late 1960’s, I have some suggestions for the people who organize (if one can use the term) the protests in Portland:

  1. Peaceful protests are more powerful engines of change than violence or destruction. Over 70% of the populace support peaceful protests for racial justice; well over 70% actively oppose violent or destructive protests regardless of the cause.
  2. Protests are more powerful the more people who attend. Thus, they should be scheduled when more people can attend, and they should be publicized for maximum participation.
  3. Accordingly, secretly planned protests that start at 11pm or later on a weeknight will not be as effective as ones that happen during the day on a weekend. (Note: there is a reason why the crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 took place on a Sunday during the afternoon, not at 11pm at night. Actually, there are a lot of reasons.)
  4. Disrupting neighborhoods at night, even though populated by a good measure of progressives who share the goal of racial justice, does not serve your cause.
  5. More to the point: if violence and destruction, regardless of the animating cause, becomes the dominating issue in the upcoming election, Trump will win. Is there really anything more that needs to be said?

[Well, maybe one more thing, this regarding a health update from your author. It seems he now has a brain tumor. It’s just a little guy, only about 5 silly millimeters long, that has found purchase on his pituitary gland. It is almost assuredly benign, but it does require some further investigation that will begin in early October. Allowed to grow, it can have an impact on vision, and nothing is more important to me than my sight so surgery is possible. I have already become a frequent flyer in the O.R., so if I do need to go in again, I am hoping I’ve accumulated enough points at least to get upgraded to high-speed internet.]

10 thoughts on “Surrounded

  1. I was just getting ready to email you to see if you knew anything from today’s petscan and got your blog. Ugh. Hate that a miniscule module has set up residence on your pituitary gland. Praying it shrinks and has disappeared by Oct.!!!! I hope it doesn’t send you back through puberty!!! (small attempt at humor). Hugs!


  2. Thanks for the update, Ken. I’m sorry the protesters are “too close for comfort”. So glad no damage. And get that silly little guy tumour out of your life!
    Best regards from Saskatchewan Jean and Harvey


  3. Ken, thanks for the update on the recent happenings in your neighborhood. I so agree with you on all counts. Back in the 60s when the Dems had there famous riot at their convention it swept Nixon in with a promise of Law and order and a promise to end the war which of course he didn’t do. Trump will strike fear into the electorate and it will sweep him into the White House. What a tragedy. And what a loss for social justice.

    I am glad those docs are keeping track of you healthwise and I hope this brain tumor gets gone and you have no ill effects. Angel

    Angelica ‘Angel’ Pilato, Lt. Col. USAF (Ret.), Ph.D. Angel’s Truck Stop: A Woman’s Love, Laughter, and Loss during the Vietnam War (A Memoir) | Follow on Facebook| LinkedIn 5055 Foothills Dr. Unit G Lake Oswego, OR 97034 503-754-7334 (PST)



  4. Yes, thank you Ken. Hoping for the best with the tumor. You have been through the wringer. Galen

    On Thu, Aug 27, 2020 at 4:35 PM 2 WASTED MINUTES wrote:

    > Ken Fransen posted: “Another protest took place last night in my > neighborhood, at the edge of which lies the unfortunate home of the local > ICE facility. Around 11pm we heard a siren, then more sirens. Stepping out > onto our 19th floor balcony, I noticed one squad car after an” >


  5. Hi Ken,
    First off, I am so saddened to hear that there is a stupid tumor detected in your not-stupid brain. I am rooting for it to be benign. Please never hesitate to let me know if there is anything I can do for you or yours.

    AND! It appears that the Portland community reads your posts, because look at what is going on today (on the east side) during daylight!


    Sent from my iPhone



  6. Hi Ken, Thanks for your “boots on the ground” (or on the 19th floor) reporting of events there in Portland. As irritating as these midnight romps are, I can’t help but think that people are so frustrated and angry that they must do SOMEthing, no matter how ineffective. So sorry you’re affected by their activity, and I totally agree with your bullet points. Me? The only thing I feel I can do right now is donate cash to the DNC. And continue to take care of my neighborhood through work on the school board and for the community mutual water company. And stay off Facebook. And stop watching TV… Also very saddened to hear about the silly tumor in your head. You sound very confident that you will have a positive outcome, so I’m going to go with that and root for you from afar. Go, Ken! Even though there have been no music festivals to attend this year, we’ve been able to “zoom” into several live performances. It’s just about the only way musicians can keep revenue coming in these days, so I try to be generous with their on-line “tip jars.” The music quality is less than satisfactory; we have to use my laptop and listen through a small Bluetooth speaker. And it’s so-o-o- not the same as attending a festival. But, it’s better than nothing. Give a hug to Carol and collect one for yourself. Miss you guys. Cheers, Cyn


  7. Thank you for your well written update . Thoughts and prayers are with you as face yet another challenge.

    🥰❤️🥰 Betty

    On Thu, Aug 27, 2020 at 7:35 PM 2 WASTED MINUTES wrote:

    > > > > > > > Ken Fransen posted: “Another protest took place last night in my > neighborhood, at the edge of which lies the unfortunate home of the local > ICE facility. > > Around 11pm we heard a siren, then more sirens. Stepping out onto our 19th > floor balcony, I noticed one squad car after an” > > > >


  8. Ken, I first have to say the news that you have another cancer issue, no matter how small, is outrageous. Your strength and good humor are a given, but really?
    Second, thank you for your thoughtful words about all manner of events. They lift my thinking to a higher level and usually with a smile. Goodness knows we all need more smiles now; you deserve great thanks.
    All best wishes that protesters desist from disturbing the friendly confines of your neighborhood and that you continue to be the most successful cancer warrior in Portland — Vicki


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