Enough is Enough
Portland. OR. Fifty days into the popular uprising sparked by the police murder of George Floyd and demonstrations in Portland, Oregon show little sign of abating. An interview.
Originally published by Black Rose Anarchist Federation.
In fact, Portland has now become a proving ground for the Trump administration to demonstrate its ‘law and order’ bona fides in the run up to the 2020 election.
Federal police, with little information available as to which agencies they specifically work for, have become more active in the repression of demonstrations in the city. A number of recent videos have captured this secret police force, members of which wear military fatigues, grabbing demonstrators off the street and shuttling them away in unmarked vehicles.
We caught up with a member of our Portland local to find out more about what’s been happening on the ground.
Black Rose / Rosa Negra (BRRN): Can you briefly describe the last few months of the uprising in Portland?
Black Rose Portland Local (PDX): Demonstrations have been happening daily in Portland, with activity including daytime gatherings that extend into night marches, oftentimes with multiple events happening on any given day. In the first few weeks, attendance numbers ranged in the thousands and in recent weeks numbers have dipped slightly, but remained consistently in the hundreds.
The demonstrations and marches have been organized by a variety of autonomous groups, including (but not limited to) new and existent BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) led groups, nameless affinity groups, the families of victims of Portland Police violence and murder, youth-led organizations and local striking sex workers. There have been 423 total people arrested since the uprising began, the vast majority of whom have been bailed out.
Some victories include: protestors set the Justice Center [building which includes courts and police precinct] on fire the first night. Nearly 50 days later, on the night of 7/18, the Portland Police Association (police “union” pig pen) was also set aflame. $15M has been cut from the city Police budget (the ask was $50k/year until total defunding); SRO’s pulled from Portland Public School District; Transit cops pulled from public transportation (though immediately replaced by Sheriffs). Strong abolitionist rhetoric has become popular among protestors, in local literature/resources being circulated, and in graffiti and posters going up around the city. A local nonprofit won a temporary legal ban against PPB using tear gas, though with the caveat that they can use it if officers “fear for their lives” or a demonstration is declared a riot.
Some defeats and struggles we’ve experienced include: Protestors choosing to kneel with cops early on, early liberal cooptation of certain aspects of the movement and the successful division of peaceful protestors and anarchists (though this has been pretty much turned around).
BRRN: In what ways has the pandemic altered how people are organizing and turning out?
PDX: Mutual aid seems to be a key aspect of resistance and protest; mutual aid projects that were initially started at the beginning of the pandemic were strengthened and revitalized by the uprisings in the response to the murder of George Floyd. There seems to be an increase in the number of street medics, supply vehicles, and the distribution of PPE and sanitizing equipment/supplies at protests.
Initially it had a major impact in re-configuring relationships in organizations and in people newly radicalized. People within existing organizations have had to reexamine what their role is in relating to their work while being overworked in jobs deemed essential, had to reevaluate workload while able to solely work from home, organizations and people have had to learn from disabled comrades as to how to make spaces more accessible, and new masses of people have plugged into existing structures that have varying degrees of capacity to accept the new influx of people.
The first protests began before Oregon began its reopening process, and Portland, OR is several steps behind the rest of the State on that reopening process. Large amounts of people being jobless and angry at pandemic conditions, plus protests being the only social space people can feel right about showing up in are likely contributing factors as to why there is still daily and nightly energy and presence.
Different pandemic vulnerability/comfort levels leading to more varied types of actions, in addition to mass actions: car caravans, bike rallies, small neighborhood protests of less than 10 people happening simultaneously […]
via Secret Police on the Streets of #PDX: Interview with a Member of Black Rose #Portland — Enough 14 –