Conrad Wilson and Jonathan Levinson have a pretty good look at the internal and external tensions — or, let’s say, the differences of opinion — around the various approaches, strategies, and tactics of two months of Portland protests. They talk to a number of Black activists and voices on the ground, and its great primer for understanding the dynamics of this particular debate.
In the crowd that night was Byrd, a middle aged Black woman who has been attending protests at the Justice Center since they started. Among other events bringing people to the street, she said the federal law enforcement officers’ actions have made people scared that their fundamental right to protest is in jeopardy. The hand wringing over white people in the protest misses the bigger point, she said.
“You’re either for human rights or you aren’t,” Byrd said. “We can’t concede the point that now there’s an energy that is bent toward racial justice for Black people. And that’s the focus.”
They also report that Mine Furor is increasing the numbers of paramilitary shock troops in Portland, which makes Ed Pilkington’s unsettling profile of Customs and Border Protection generally — and Bortac specifically — just that much more unsettling (via Andy Baio).
As news circulated of demonstrators being shot in the face with “less lethal” munitions, and of unidentified masked agents in camouflage strong-arming civilians into unmarked vans, the nightmare scenario Tomsheck had heard expressed by his bosses almost a decade ago – of border patrol becoming a nationwide militarized force operating outside constitutional constraints – was becoming real.
“Border patrol has always seen itself as a militarized force, and that aspiration is now being enabled by the current administration,” Tomsheck told the Guardian.
It’s unnerving to see in Pilkington’s piece that discussions of CBP in fact are beginning to refer to “the interior”; recall David A. Graham’s recent depiction of Trump effectively trying to cobble together a de facto Interior Ministry.
Maxine Bernstein’s bizarre puffery about what it’s like for Mine Furor’s paramilitary shock troops inside the Federal courthouse sets a new standard for literal puffery with this paragraph.
The federal officers needed to wait them out. One deputy marshal joked that most people until now didn’t have a clue who they are or what they do and that when he says he works for the Marshals Service, people sometimes look at him and ask, “marshmallow?”
For the record, Marshmallows are fans of Veronica Mars, not wannabe Interior Ministry troops for Trump’s improvisational fascism.
Where is Ted Wheeler? As near as I can tell, no one’s heard from the Mayor since a Saturday morning tweet (I’ve tried looking for news stories that might have gotten a more recent quote but to no avail; ping me if I missed something), and it’s difficult to view this silence as anything other than an inability for him to hop onto national newscasts to posture about Donald Trump and the abuses of his paramilitary shock troops from the Department of Homeland Security given that last night the Portland Police that he commands as Police Commissioner were full partners and participants in those very abuses. Wheeler and the rest of the City Council literally just this past week adopted a resolution prohibiting that, so I’d really love it if the local press corps could get an answer here: is the Mayor just trying to snow us all with his preening on television, while actually supporting his police’s behavior, or has he simply lost any and all control over them?
It hit 95º outside by 3:00pm but so far, thanks to windows-open all night with a fan pulling in cool air until I shut everything down this morning, my apartment is holding at 70º. That will rise, but it looks like maybe I won’t hit 85º in here after all.
In addition to reportedly rendering the first seven floors of the Federal courthouse uninhabitable due to their own tear gas, paramilitary shock troops from Mine Furor’s ad-hoc wannabe Interior Ministry also are gassing inmates in jail at the Justice Center next door.
The sheriff’s department couldn’t say how many inmates or employees were affected. But tear gas infiltrated the sixth, seventh and eighth floors of the detention center and affected more than 60 inmates, according to defense lawyers who serve as public defenders to those incarcerated. The center’s eighth floor, which houses women, was the hardest hit, according to Maxfield.
On the morning of July 21, Maxfield said female inmates woke around 1 am to the sounds of another inmate screaming, “I can’t breathe!” As the gas continued seeping into cells, inmates began to panic because no jail staff are present at night. “So there was no one to help them get to a safe place,” Maxfield said. “It was pretty terrifying.”
Alex Zielinski for Portland Mercury interviews Eddy Binford-Ross, editor-in-chief of Clypian, the student newspaper of South Salem High School, who’s been in Portland covering the nightly protests.
The man shot in the head by paramilitary shock troops from Mine Furor’s ad-hoc Interior Ministry for the “crime” of holding a stereo above his head like an antifa Lloyd Dobler is getting out of hospital this weekend, suffering from impairments to impulse control and cognitive function due to a “depressed skull fracture in the frontal lobe”.
I’ve now seen three videos and one photograph of the tear gas tornado that somehow formed downtown during the protests last night, because 2020.
You might have seen not just coverage of the Wall of Moms but some indication of a bit of conflict over their usefulness in a movement for Black lives; the Moms have received a fair degree of criticism of being “white spectacle” despite what’s been, as near as I could tell, a concerted effort to weaponize the privilege of white members for that movement, and despite not all the Moms being white. Today, the group announced that, working with Teressa Raiford and Don’t Shoot PDX, all white members of its leadership have stepped down from their administrative roles “so that our leadership is entirely composed of Black and Indigenous women from most-impacted communities”.
I’m not intentionally copying Jack here but these things really are of a piece. First, Kyle Iboshi of KGW tweeted this incredible video of Billy Williams, the U.S. Attorney for Oregon, flat out denying that federal troops have been “out on the street”, at which point the video cuts to footage of federal troops out on the streets, which of course they have been, night after night, as Jack points out sometimes “as far as the bus mall”.
Williams previously had asked the Inspector General of the Department of Justice to look into the federal presence here in Portland, and that received its due skepticism at the time. Now that Williams is just flat out lying — and for the life of me I can’t believe it’s another other than a brazen lie, because it’s inconceivable to me that the U.S. Attorney for Oregon had seen absolutely none of the footage of federal troops in the streets — that’s pretty much a lock on the idea that there’s no help coming from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Inextricably linked to all of this is the fact that a federal judge has denied Oregon’s request for a restraining order against these paramilitary shock troops, apparently on the basis that the State of Oregon simply has no standing to represent its citizens in the federal courts. Inexplicably, to my layman’s brain anyway, the judge further deems “an injunction against future conduct” to be “an extraordinary form of relief”, despite the fact that temporary restraining orders are legitimate tool that courts use all the time.
It’s more or less a given that no one expected any part of the federal government to rescue Portland from the jackbooted part of the federal government, and anything that does happen probably will be something of an outlier, but it’s still something of a face-smack to have their lack of concern laid out so plainly.
Bonus read: Christina Cauterucci for Slate explains (via Alex Wittenberg) that Mine Furor chose Portland for his first rollout of federal troops precisely because Portland’s own police already had been savaging protesters.
So have any local press followed up on this Felipe Nystrom post from two days ago, about his story of what happened to him on Friday last week outside the county courthouse?
Last Friday morning I went to the Multnomah County Court House for work. When I got there about 830 AM I saw a sign on the door that diaf it was court furlough day and that it was closed. So while standing on the sidewalk I called my agency to see what was going on since it was strange that I’d been given a grand jury appointment yo interpret for on a day the court was closed. While the phone was ringing I heard a firm, almost angry, voice from behind me say
“Put the phone down”
An obvious correction to this from late last night before I went to bed: Mondainé of course right there in the op-ed itself mentions holding an event Thursday night, which indeed was held right there on the steps of the Justice Center. Nonetheless, the thrust of my point remains stuck in my craw: public, on-the-streets pressure is the only thing that’s going to create the environment in which anything can happen in boardrooms and backrooms. Maybe there’s a plan to shift the ongoing protests in a direction Mondainé thinks would be better; I don’t know. The op-ed certainly doesn’t suggest this is the case, as it effectively calls for an end to the demonstrations.
Portland’s protests at this point seem to me to have devolved into a sort of stew of noble competing clusterfucks. (Understand here that I “follow” events via social media; I am not in the action downtown.) Wednesday night, even aside from the crowd chanting “fuck Ted Wheeler” while someone on “stage” chided them because he wanted to hear what Wheeler had to say, generally seemed to be something of a roiling mess of tensions between the sentiment of the crowd and that of the people with the public address system. Thursday night apparently was struck by what one correspondent on the ground called “fence politics”, which included Black protesters arguing with each other over tactics, and confusion among the Wall of Moms as to the right course of action. Meanwhile the baffling rise and fall of Rose City Justice now has them returning from their spa retreat of self-reflection to become the beneficiary of some sort of beer fundraiser? (Their activities since retreating I admit I’m not versed in; have they been active again or not so much?) Even more meanwhile, I have conflicted feelings about this E.D. Mondainé op-ed for The Washington Post, not least because it went to a national paper rather than a local one, but mostly because Mondainé’s plea to move the fight to boardrooms, schools, city councils, halls of justice, and “smoky backrooms of a duplicitous government” seems to ignore that it was people on the streets that dramatically moved the Overton window on Black Lives Matter, economic justice, and police abolition. While I get that people are going to fear either distraction or backlash or both, the momentum to get things done in boardrooms and backrooms itself will peter out absent ground mobilization. Here I plead ignorance again: is Mondainé’s local NAACP chapter organizing its own demonstrations to keep up the pressure in whatever forms it thinks will be more message than spectacle, or only chastising the people who are literally standing up in masses for the things Mondainé wants to get done?
So that fence the feds built into the street around the Federal courthouse? Portland just warned them to get it out of the public right-of-way, especially the entirely-blocked bike lane. Given that the feds have suggested the fence will remain for as long as Mine Furor is in office, I imagine this, too, will end up in court.
This evening a Federal judge restrained Federal police from interfering with the legal activities of journalists and legal observers in Portland, prohibiting (pdf) them from “arresting, threatening to arrest, or using physical force” against them.
[T]he point of journalists observing and documenting government action is to record whether the “closing” of public streets (e.g. , declaring a riot) is lawfully originated and carried out. Without journalists and legal observers, there is only the government’s side of the story to explain why a “riot” was declared and the public streets were “closed” and whether law enforcement acted properly in effectuating that order.