Past the expiration date

Well, two bits of important news.

First, the tear gas they’ve been firing at us? Well, it turns out that a lot of it is past its expiration date.

What does that mean? We don’t know. It could be a good thing, with the most toxic chemicals breaking down into less toxic or inert chemicals. It could also be a bad thing, with toxic chemicals breaking down into even more harmful reaction products.

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Sunday Night Protests: A wee spot of bother and a chaotic video

Much more to come later. Got home at 1;30 am and set some water heating for tea. Desperately needed to take a shower and get the tear gas off my skin.

It was a mostly safe night, though I got knocked down in a panic from a nearby flash-bang and several tear gas grenades/ canisters/ thingies going off at once. I honestly don’t know who knocked me down, but there were several people that bumped into me nearly simultaneously and one kicked one of my crutches out from under me. The other crutch went as soon as my weight was no longer directly over it and a different person bumped into the now-unstable crutch. I actually fell onto the backpack of someone in front of me and they slowed my fall (fortunately they also didn’t hit the ground). On the way down I got kneed in the left side, more or less. It was right next to the kidney right where my side meets my back. While on my knees I couldn’t gather my crutches and someone stepped on my heel. As my toes were pointed it couldn’t drive them into the ground, so I felt lucky not to break a toe. Almost immediately 3-4 generous people were helping to pick me up. I think one of them was the person who stepped on my heel, but I don’t really know for sure.

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Desperate for some Tear Gas Video? I have you covered!

Man, tonight was just lots and lots of tear gas. They did so many small gassings, many of which were down the block from me and hardly affected me at all. The more I experience tear gas from even a small distance away, the more I realize that how incredibly fucked up I was on Tuesday night was because I was clearly sucking in a super-heavy dose. On Tuesday I remember 3 tear gas canisters around me, all very close, none farther than 5 meters away for sure, and I don’t think any of them were even 3 meters, but I was in shock from the flash bang, so I’m saying less than 5 meters just to be safe. But here’s the thing, I had my eyes mostly closed after that until I was just over a block away, but when I would open them for a moment to try to plan a safe path to walk with my eyes closed, I was still in a fog of tear gas for a good 3/4 of the way through the park. I had previously reported that they had kept the tear gas close to the courthouse on Tuesday night’s 1st offensive, but tonight I was upwind of the tear gas and could remain longer and watch more closely. The tear gas from a single canister just isn’t that dense 30 feet/ 8-9 meters away from the canister. It’s a very, very light mist . except sometimes when the wind moves the cloud more or less intact. It’s still only maybe a 3 meter diameter of intense smoke, but sometimes that 3 meter bunch moves more-or-less intact on the wind instead of being stretched and thinned.

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Reality Check: We can do better

So, I’m sure the people reading along have been wondering about my take on Ted Wheeler. This is part of it.

As we all know, the protests in Portland are important. They’re about Black lives. They’re organized with absolutely the best of intentions. So there couldn’t be any racism right there at the protests, right? Right????

Aw, fuck. You know the answer.

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The Story of July 21: Three offensives

You’ve likely already read the thread I posted about the personal experience of being exposed to tear gas, how your body responds, how your mind panics. But of course that doesn’t tell people much about what actually happened – the narrative that one might get in a newspaper. This post is more about that: the story of late July 21st and the earliest bit of July 22nd and the rally that happened in front of the Federal Services Building [Correction:] Justice Center and the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse in downtown Portland.

The nightly protests themselves are a sort of jamboree. There are people who take it upon themselves to be leaders. They speak and initiate chanting. But they’re mostly limited to use of bullhorns, which simply aren’t loud enough to reach the whole crowd. So if you don’t work your way to the front, it takes you several rounds of a chant before you can pick it up – except the obvious and most frequent chant, “Black Lives Matter”. That one gets started a lot.

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The chaos of tear gas

Okay, folks.

This is 2:42 seconds of a critical time in last night’s protests, taken around 11:30pm Pacific time on the night of July 21st in front of the Hatfield courthouse. My BFF and I are in the front rank, the only people in front of us are a couple of press people who walk briefly in front of us. You won’t see it, but about halfway through someone with a shield comes up and kneels in front of me to protect me (though I didn’t want it or ask for it). I didn’t tell the shield carrier to buzz off and find someone who actually wanted protection, but if this is ever you, please ask permission before you actually touch someone’s body. My shield carrier actually grabbed my arthritic knees in what they thought was a reassuring gesture just before the tear gas was fired. Don’t be that person, okay? Okay.

Now the video:

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A few more pics from Portland

Some lunatic was running around with this on hir back:

Transsexual Perverts 4 Peace

Must have been someone itchin’ for a chance to rumble with the feds is my guess.


There’s a LOT of graffiti. I’m told by multiple people that it’s power washed and/or painted over every single day. I specifically asked if they take weekends off. They replied that the graffiti is erased Every. Single. Day.

Some of the graffiti is artistic. The most artistic, by the way, is also the most long lasting since the people that enjoy doing art enough to become talented at it have saved their better works for boarded up buildings other than the courthouse so as to avoid the daily purge. This graphic is one of those, and may have been up longer than 24 hours because it was on private property two blocks from the courthouse:

An anarchy symbol - the A in a circle - and the peace sign are given legs and arms in this picture. An attractively simple drawing, it shows Anarchy & Peace holding hands, with a heart symbol growing over those linked hands between them. Immediately below this friendly image, however, is the reminder,

Anarchy & Peace are sitting in a Tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

I found myself particularly affected by this one. The image is attractive and friendly. It was also found in many places downtown. But then there’s the statement, “Blue lives murder.” Of course that’s unquestionably true, and the point of the protests, but it can be jarring immediately below the more upbeat image of anarchic, peaceful love. That image of anthropomorphized anarchy & peace, by the way, was not generally accompanied by the words blue lives murder when painted elsewhere in Portland.

Of all the graffiti I saw, this is the single one that stood out the most. I felt this one. I still feel it when merely looking at the photo.


The federal courthouse itself is a site of more chaotic expressions:

Chaotic graffiti on the west face of the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse building. The fencing piled to the right is barricading a door that police have used to emerge from the building when ready to surprise or assault or clear protestors.

Less than 12 hours worth of graffiti.

You can see that there’s some pretty angry, hateful stuff there (“kill all cops”), some humor (“yum, bacon!”), and some much more hopeful thoughts expressed (“I love you mama, papa, babies, but no one taught me how to love you”).

Pictures from Portland

So my first night protesting in Portland in a while. Brings back memories.

Here are a couple photos, though there should be more coming later when I have a friend’s phone available to me:

An EMT has climbed into a tree in the park across from the federal courthouse, and is reclining on a branch.

An EMT in a Tree.

Turns out, being an EMT at the protests can wear you out talking to people. Sometimes you just have to get away from all the people clamoring for your attention, so….

Next up, a Star Wars reference!

An organizer and medic wears a white cross-on-red with the word “Ewoks” filling the crossbar.

I spoke to this person about their shirt. She said she was part of a group of people that was doing the networking and connecting for the protests. In Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, the ewoks did tons of organizing as evidenced by their log traps and whatnot, and were absolutely necessary for eliminating the shield generator to make the raid on the 2nd Death Star possible, but the humans and the ship pilots got all the credit. She said their aim was to be like the Ewoks: worry about the organizing, not about the credit.

The purpose of the shirt, then? She said it wasn’t about getting notice or credit either. The purpose of the shirt was because it allowed people to recognize them and ask them for whatever they might need. The Ewoks wouldn’t necessarily provide it, of course, but because they’re the networkers, they know exactly where to go and whom to ask to get what you need.

There were things to dislike about the protests, of course. It was chaotic, as protests tend to me, and far from homogenous. As a result there were some people who were, shall we say, not my cup of tea. But there were lots of good things as well, and I’ll provide more on both another time. I must get some sleep.

 

Trump Administration Ordered Immigration Courts to Spread Coronavirus

Is almost literally what happened earlier today, March 9th, 2020. The National Association of Immigration Judges recommended that immigration courts display disease prevention posters in english and several other languages to protect court employees, lawyers, and attendees.

But as odd as it seems for a court to be part of the executive branch, in the case of immigration courts, they are organized under Article II powers (executive powers, thus  accountable to the president) rather than article III (judicial powers, thus accountable to the Supreme Court generally on some matters, or the Chief Justice specifically on remaining matters) because the constitution gives authority over immigration and naturalization to the executive, subject to duly passed laws.

As a result, the President has the authority to interfere with immigration courts to the extent not prohibited by law passed by Congress and signed by the President (or passed with veto-override). Apparently the President or his delegates were none too pleased that immigration judges wanted to prevent death and disease and ordered immigration courts to take the posters down:

It’s hard to explain just how heinous and shortsighted this is, but mostly because it is so obviously heinous and shortsighted. To the Trumpists who actually need this explained, I doubt comprehension will ever come.