The Truth About Portland

Nicholas Kristof’s column yesterday was eye-opening and re-affirms from a highly respected and reliable eyewitness that the biggest part of the violence in Portland, Oregon, is caused by Trump’s goon squad, aka federal troops.  Take a minute to read this, and then imagine it happening in your city, in every major city in the nation …

In Portland’s So-Called War Zone, It’s the Troops Who Provide the Menace

If President Trump is actually trying to establish order, he is stunningly incompetent.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

July 25, 2020, 2:40 p.m. ET

Portland-1PORTLAND, Ore. — To watch Fox News is to learn from Sean Hannity that the “Rose City” of Portland is “like a war zone” that has been, in Tucker Carlson’s words, “destroyed by the mob.”

So I invite Hannity and Carlson to escape their bubbles and visit Portland, stroll along the Willamette River and enjoy a glass of local pinot noir. They’ll be safe — unless they venture at night into the two blocks beside the federal courthouse.

Citizens need to be vigilant there, for armed groups periodically storm the streets to attack peaceful visitors. I’m talking, of course, about the uninvited federal forces.

I’ve watched them fire round after round of tear gas, along with occasional rubber bullets or other projectiles. They even repeatedly tear-gassed Portland’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, who has demanded that they go home, leaving him blinded and coughing on his own streets.

Portland-2“They knocked the hell out of him,” President Trump boasted on Fox News. “That was the end of him.”

Trump is pretending that he is bringing law and order to chaotic streets, and now he has dispatched similar troops — what else can you call a militarized force like this but “troops”? — to Seattle, where that city’s mayor has also said they are unwanted. Yet if Trump is actually trying to establish order, he is stunningly incompetent. The ruthlessness of the federal forces has inflamed the protests, bringing huge throngs of Portlanders out to protect their city from those they see as jackbooted federal thugs.

“Their presence here escalates,” Kate Brown, Oregon’s governor, told me. “It throws gasoline on the fire.”

Brown noted that the federal troops may also be breaking the law. “We cannot have secret police abducting people into unmarked vehicles,” she said. “This is a democracy and not a dictatorship.”

Portland-3The paradox is that Oregon is simultaneously begging for federal assistance to address a real threat — the coronavirus pandemic. Brown said she has been pleading for Covid-19 tests and for personal protective equipment, but the federal government has rebuffed the state.

“It’s appalling to me that they are using federal taxpayer dollars for political theater and making no effort to really keep our communities safe,” Brown said.

So let’s be real: Trump isn’t trying to quell violence in Portland. No, he’s provoking it to divert attention from 140,000 Covid-19 deaths in the United States. Once again, he’s tear-gassing peaceful protesters to generate a photo op — and he’s doing this every night in downtown Portland. This is a reckless campaign tactic to bolster his own narrative as a law-and-order candidate, a replay of Richard Nixon’s successful 1968 campaign theme.

It is true that some protesters are violent. Some start small trash fires. Others paint graffiti, including “kill pigs” and “kill cops,” or hurl water bottles or firecrackers at federal agents. Some protesters point lasers at officers and in one case a man allegedly hit an agent with a hammer.

Such violence is wrong and plays into Trump’s narrative. Representative John Lewis, who died earlier this month, showed how much more powerful it is for changemakers to endure violence than to commit it.

But it’s also true that the vast majority of those in the crowds each evening are peaceful. They sing about racial justice, chant “Feds out now” and try to protect their city from violent intruders dispatched by Trump.

Portland-4The protesters — including a “Wall of Moms” who turn out each night to lock arms and shield protesters — protect themselves with bicycle helmets and umbrellas, while suburbanites bring leaf blowers to dispel tear gas (this works surprisingly well). Medics attend to the injured, and cleanup crews collect litter.

“They have guns; I have an umbrella,” said a protester named Jackie — who added that she was fearful of the government and did not want her last name published. That’s common in dictatorships, but I find it ineffably sad to breathe tear gas in my beloved home state and to interview Americans with such fears of their own leaders.

On the streets, I have no fear of the protesters (except when they pull their face masks down to shout slogans, risking the spread of Covid-19), but it’s prudent to worry about the troops. In a few weeks, they:

  • fired “less lethal” munition at a peaceful protester named Donavan La Bella, fracturing his skull and requiring facial reconstruction surgery. Video shows that the shot was unprovoked.
  • clubbed a Navy veteran, Christopher J. David, as he tried to ask federal agents how they squared their actions with the Constitution.
  • allegedly sexually assaulted a lawyer who had been arrested after taking part in the “Wall of Moms.”

An iconic moment came when a woman known as Naked Athena confronted the troops while wearing only a hat and face mask. Her naked vulnerability as armed troops fired pepper balls at her feet underscored the absurdity of Trump’s narrative that he is “protecting” anything.

Beware. What you’re seeing in Portland may be coming to other cities. After all, Trump’s verdict on the troops: “In Portland, they’ve done a fantastic job.”


24 thoughts on “The Truth About Portland

    • Much of the violence has been by people who were not part of the BLM protests. Like you, I don’t like the violence, but … in truth I am more afraid of the law enforcement officials sent in to break up protests than I am of the protestors. I don’t fear for my life, and will join a protest when I can, but the brute force tactics of law enforcement are only making everything worse. There are better ways to solve the problems … like sitting down and LISTENING to the complaints of the Black community, addressing their concerns.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hello Jill. On the peaceful demonstrations please let me share some information I have been reading.

        The vast majority of demonstration events associated with the BLM movement are non-violent (see map below). In more than 93% of all demonstrations connected to the movement, demonstrators have not engaged in violence or destructive activity. Peaceful protests are reported in over 2,400 distinct locations around the country. Violent demonstrations,3 meanwhile, have been limited to fewer than 220 locations — under 10% of the areas that experienced peaceful protests. In many urban areas like Portland, Oregon, for example, which has seen sustained unrest since Floyd’s killing, violent demonstrations are largely confined to specific blocks, rather than dispersed throughout the city (CNN, 1 September 2020).
        Yet, despite data indicating that demonstrations associated with the BLM movement are overwhelmingly peaceful, one recent poll suggested that 42% of respondents believe “most protesters [associated with the BLM movement] are trying to incite violence or destroy property”
        Groups like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) have documented organized disinformation campaigns aimed at spreading a “deliberate mischaracterization of groups or movements [involved in the protests], such as portraying activists who support Black Lives Matter as violent extremists or claiming that antifa is a terrorist organization coordinated or manipulated by nebulous external forces” (ADL, 2020)
        Despite the media focus on looting and vandalism, however, there is little evidence to suggest that demonstrators have engaged in widespread violence. In some cases where demonstrations did turn violent, there are reports of agents provocateurs — or infiltrators — instigating the violence. During a demonstration on 27 May in Minneapolis, for example, a man with an umbrella — dubbed the ‘umbrella man’ by the media and later identified as a member of the Hells Angels linked to the Aryan Cowboys, a white supremacist prison and street gang — was seen smashing store windows (Forbes, 30 May 2020; KSTP, 28 July 2020). It was one of the first reports of destructive activity that day, and it “created an atmosphere of hostility and tension” that helped spark an outbreak of looting following initially peaceful protests, according to police investigators, who believe the man “wanted to sow discord and racial unrest” (New York Times, 28 July 2020). In another example on 29 May in Detroit, a number of non-residents reportedly traveled to the city to engage in violent behavior during a demonstration, leading to multiple arrests (MLive, 2 June 2020).
        Sorry for the length of the quote but it is a lot of information. Basically 93% of the protests are peaceful and of the ones that are not they suspect the large amount of damage and agitation are done by outside agitators. However just recently I have been posting videos of white national fascist groups violently attacking BLM groups while the police either standby and don’t stop them, or make a show of detaining them only to let them go after. Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks, Scottie … I always appreciate well-researched facts! I knew the BLM protests were largely peaceful, and I think that Trump is agitating a lot of the white supremacist groups to stir things up so he can use it as an excuse for more violence. Sigh. Heck, the cops saw that 17-year-old kid, Kyle Rittenhouse, walking the streets with an assault weapon strapped on his shoulder, just looking for trouble, and instead of stopping him, the threw him a bottle of water and told him they appreciated him! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

          Liked by 1 person

  1. In India, these bullies are called “goondas”. It may be where the word goons comes from. Let’s put Trump right up in front to lead them. He wouldn’t do that even if surrounded by Secret Servicemen. Of course, the mayor did it but he’s a much braver man. Trump is what my parents would have called a big showoff. They couldn’t stand them. Does he think he’s making up for not fighting in the Vietnam War? Sorry, Donald, but no. 😦 — Suzanne

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh no, he won’t even walk by a group of completely peaceful protestors to have his little ‘photo op’, but has the National Guard clear the streets for him first, using tear gas, rubber bullets, and the works on people who weren’t doing a thing but standing there! Trump is a Coward with a capital ‘C’.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Try a CAPITAL C-O-W-A-R-D! Then you might be in the right vicinity, but even that does not carry enough of an impact.
        NO, imagine a semi-trailer with a piggy-back trailer addition, both trailers full of heavy loads, barrelling right at the driver’s door, and you a split-second from death, that immenence is how much of a COWARD Donnie Junkman Truckdriver really is.


  2. I OFFICIALLY HATE WORD PRESS. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to how it works one time and how it works another. There, I am just back from leaving this webpage and returning to the exact same spot. I went to check some data on another webpage. Usually I do this to confirm something I am writing about. And the page I left, such as this one, is always waiting right here for me to pick up my next statement. I can leave and come back dozens of time without lising my output.
    This has happened before, probably to all us WP users where we went away, only to come back to a vanished but unfinished post or comment. But it happens so seldom I forget that it might. Well, yes, it just happened again, and I lost a couple hundred words that I could not afford to lose. And now I am wasting my time bitching instead of trying to rewrite what I have lost. Now that might never happen. And I cannot imagine how you feel to have me waste your time listening to hear me bitch, but I gotta say it feels damn good to me right now. Two minutes from now I’ll probably be crying. Sorry, but I have had to learn to let my frustrations out instead of just bottling them up inside, causing me to be more vulnerable to stress-related disease.
    And I am not even going to recheck this comment for typos.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Looking at the hidden face of heavily outfitted stormtroopers is cause for more violence than the goons are capable of stopping, even with violence. Trump wants to govern by fear, and that is what he is trying to do in Oregon. It doesn’t matter who fires the first shots. The mobile force is terrifying the protestors to act first, before they allow themselves to be gunned down in the streets. Pouring pepperspray liquid over the protestors may not look so bad on TV–though it looks bad enough on TV–these are the kinds of things that make certain people throw the first rock, or hurl the first molotav cocktail, making it look like they are the agressive ones, giving the stormtroopers the “right” to respond with violence. This creates an appearance of law and order. This appearance is carefully orchestrated, andmyst be shown up for what it is, Naziism!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are so right. The federal troops are provoking further violence rather than being a calming influence. Today, he is sending even more troops into Portland, there are troops in Seattle, and he’s said he’s sending troops into Chicago and Albuquerque. Where next? Will every major city in the U.S. be under siege by federal troops by election day, preventing good people from being able to vote? Or giving Trump an excuse to postpone the election? It is, indeed, Naziism, fascism, a totalitarian dictatorship. It is only a matter of time before lives are lost … probably starting this week. And the blood will be on Trump’s hands and the hands of any who support and enable him.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. How farcical to find the governor of a city attended by Trumps, pseudo army standing and asking for the to be pulled because the trouble is worse with them here and he is coping. Instead they gassed him. Trump is sending more out to different places now. These military are not army and I;m sure doesn’t have the right to make himself a warlord with an illegal army, they carry no identification on their uniforms.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is indeed a farce. And, at first they claimed not to have known who he was, but that was later disproven … they knew exactly who they were gassing. So far, he has sent them to Seattle, whose mayor also said she did not request nor desire their help, and is threatening to send them to Chicago & Albuquerque as well. Sooner or later, somebody is going to get killed … probably sooner. And the blood will be on Donald Trump’s hands. No, they are not army … I’m not sure who they are … special forces? ICE? They are unidentified. I find it … chilling. It is unconstitutional. What leader attacks his own??? Sigh. Beam me up, Scottie.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Jill, thanks for sharing this. Nicholas Kristof has won two Pulitzer Prizes for his reporting. He has authored several important books, as well. He is a reasoned reporter and author. His words matter.

    Civil protests are the large majority of Black Lives Matter protests, but that is not what makes the news and especially not the opinion shows of Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, neither of whom should be confused with news reporters.

    Another two-time Pulitzer Prize winner named Bob Woodward titled his book “Fear” about the White House based on a Trump interview where he said he “managed by fear.” This autocratic bent is a horrible way to manage long term. These actions are the ones we need to push back hard on our Senators – how can you stand there and not call the president out on these actions?

    Thanks for sharing, Keith

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Keith. Kristof is, in my book, the gold standard for reporting, while the Fox ‘News’ talking heads like Carlson and Hannity don’t even rank. Still, people listen to Hannity et al, and unfortunately fall for their spiel.

      You’re right, too, that the peaceful protests are not what are making the news, but rather the isolated incidences of violence are being played up to the hilt in order to justify, or attempt to justify, Trump’s actions.

      You’re so right … we DO need to be contacting our Senators and asking them the question … “How far are you going to let him go before you step up to the plate and honour your oath of office?” To that end, I plan to write Senator Rob Portman a letter tomorrow. I’m sure he lets out a sigh when he sees my name by now, but he might as well get used to it if he isn’t going to do his job!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello Jill. I feel this is one of the most important issues we need to focus on, the out right in your face slashing of due process, civil rights, and the unconstitutional actions of a lawless administration. I think we must get the story out to everyone on every media to counter the right wing propaganda. We must not let tRump control the narrative on this. When we seen this in Hong Kong where while the people were on the side of the protesters our government was not. When we have seen it happen in other countries we thought those people are standing up to keep what little they have of their rights. Now it is us in our country. We must not lose, and we must keep the peoples support. Unfortunately normally by the time it gets this far too much has already been lost. Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

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