Hey, folks! It’s time to PARRRRR-TAY!
BLM and their supporters have managed a major victory in Portland. Not only did Fed presence almost entirely disappear from Portland (we saw one FPS vehicle – a clearly marked SUV – anywhere downtown last night, Thursday the 30th, and it was parked and empty about 5 blocks from the Hatfield courthouse), but we ourselves did a good job of stopping any antics. One small fire was set, but protesters acted quickly to put it out with bottled water.
Although I don’t think that small fires or launching fireworks can possibly excuse the behavior of the Feds, in the PR war being waged in the media about whom to blame for the Portland catastrophe, making that first night without Feds as peaceful as possible was an important victory. For that PR victory, I’m quite glad.
I’m also still feeling pretty horrible from the effects of Wednesday night. I went through some shit, but the Feds’ behavior was even worse than I knew. It turns out that the tear gas canister that landed 1m-1.5m/4′ (-ish) from me on Wednesday night was fired from the roof. The roof of a building which has 13 stories.
After you see a tear gas canister land, you can trace a smoke trail tracing the projectile’s path, but only about 5m or so max. You can look again at the video of the gas canister that landed closest to me (at least since a week ago Tuesday) I could tell the angle it came in on was very steep, and I mentioned in earlier reports that I was surprised it stopped rather than rolling toward me. This is much more easily explained not by shooting in a high parabolic arc, but by shooting almost directly down. We have footage of projectiles landing among the crowd coming from an angle that could only mean that they were shot from the roof of the courthouse from as early as a week ago, but somehow I missed that story.
Why is this important? Well, because a projectile like that can build up a lot of momentum falling from that height and despite being billed as less lethal, when shot from far above its kinetic energy makes the housing lethal even if the tear gas contents are not. Some people believes that any shot from the roof would constitute use of lethal force and is thus a further escalation of illegality on the part of the Feds.
But whether or not the law treats this behavior differently, as human beings who were fired upon in this way, our critique should gain in resonance and reach. The fact that the Feds missed my head by a few feet doesn’t negate the fact that they fired a projectile in such a way that, had it struck me directly, would have been fatal.
Anyway, I’m also glad the violence of the Feds is ended because it will allow me more time to talk about the words of the protest organizers – something I’ve wanted to do.
So despite feeling terribly, I’ll be going back to the rally tonight and (probably) leaving early, right after the speakers are done, so that I can get a bit more rest and then give you my videos of the speakers and thoughts on their message that I’ve been collecting.
Although it has gotten much less attention than Gov Brown’s negotiation for the withdrawal of the Feds, ultimately the more important news story coming out of Salem is the commitment of state and local government to introduce legislation on issues of justice and community health for which BLM organizers have been fighting since Day 1.
Please note that a huge portion of this consists of proposals that Black and indigenous people have been fighting for for years. The Portland African American Leadership Forum ideas from 2017 are in there, and the Urban League’s ideas from 2015 are in there. And of course, although those proposals were updated with specifics relevant to their times, they also drew from even earlier proposals.
This victory has been a LONG time coming. BIPOC organizations have been fighting for measures that help all communities for much longer than 60 days, and I hope that wherever you live, you take some time in the next few days to look up the great programs that support communities in your area and find out a little about how they have been created or sustained in significant part through the work of people of color.