Where do we even begin with United States Attorney for Oregon, Billy J. Williams? The latest, per Maxine Bernstein of The Oregonian, are his remarks about the nightly protests outside the Federal courthouse.
It is absolutely destroying the soul of our city.
Let’s get some things straight. The map below encompasses almost all of Portland. You can see my the marker the location of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse. (Ignore the blue dot; that’s me.)
This next map shows the four square blocks at the core of the nightly protests in downtown Portland, consisting of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse, the Multnomah County Detention Center and Portland Police Bureau (collectively known as the Justice Center), and Chapman and Lownsdale Squares.
This geography does not represent the soul of Portland, except in a way that Williams never would concede, and perhaps can’t even see: that the people who have been gathering there every night for two months represent the soul of Portland, and that it’s been the alternating and sometimes combined forces of Williams’ government and our own local which have been seeking to destroy it.
That soul is very much on display not just on the frontlines at the federals’ fence, which sits not just on the United States property of the courthouse but on City of Portland property in the street and bike lane, but across the street in Lownsdale park, where everyone from street medics to food tents set up night after night.
Does he see that soul? No. In fact, per Bernstein, he hates what’s become of Lownsdale Square.
It doesn’t help anything.. It’s pretty astounding to see. That is an issue the city of Portland needs to address.
Williams can’t help but see his Federal government as the center of things. “This building is the solution not the problem,” Bernstein quotes him as saying. “It absolutely represents everything essential to our system of justice.”
Setting aside whether that’s ever been the case, it’s certainly not the case right now. His building represents everything that’s wrong with our system of justice, in that it hosts paramilitary forces which came to town to — in Mine Furor’s own words — quell a demonstration for racial justice because our own Portland Police apparently were not being violent enough, were just not quite using enough tear gas on our own citizens.
Williams needs to do some soul searching, for his own as well as for Portland’s, which has been staring him in the face for two months.