[WSMDiscuss] Is this war ? The US aflame, its peoples afire : 50 Nights of Anti-Racist Protests and Police Violence in Portland (Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance), plus New York Times articles

Jai Sen jai.sen at cacim.net
Sat Jul 18 19:56:10 CEST 2020

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Viruses in movement…, The US in movement…, Racism in movement…, Resistance in movement…, Power in movement…

[The US is aflame, its peoples are afire….  Although a lot has been happening on other fronts (such as corporation after franchise after corporation buckling to change their policies on racism and diversity), there has been – or seems to have been - something of a lull over the past week or so.  But now, a sudden – and major – escalation, again.  With the steps that president of the country and the federal government are now taking – of sending in uniformed but unidentified troops and officials, who are beating up and arresting protestors -, and with state Governors is the country now suing Mayors for steps they are taking to protect their human constituencies, is the struggle in the US now moving to another stage ?  Of sections of the US state and ruling classes now declaring a so-far low intensity war on other sections – including of its governing classes (thanks Suren, for this differentiation) - and on its peoples ?  In the name of protecting property ?

[The president – a tired, old, idea-less, white (and white supremacist), president -, desperate to cling on to power, is clearly flailing, and becoming increasingly desperate; even as the US empire is crumbling before our eyes.  But this makes for dangerous moments…  Anything could happen.

[Here, first, an ‘activist’ report, and then reports – no less alarmed, and alarming – from the New York Times….  To be understood as a new stage in what is clearly a *struggle for power and over meanings that is underway, no less :

·      50 Nights of Anti-Racist Protests and Police Violence in Portland (Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance)

·      Federal Agents Unleash Militarized Crackdown on Portland (New York Times)


·      Were the Actions of Federal Agents in Portland Legal ?

·      While Virus Surges, Georgia Governor Sues Atlanta Mayor to Block Mask Rules

50 Nights of Anti-Racist Protests and Police Violence in Portland

Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance

July 17, 2020

| Resist! <https://popularresistance.org/resist/>
https://popularresistance.org/50-nights-of-anti-racist-protests-against-police-violence-in-portland/ <https://popularresistance.org/50-nights-of-anti-racist-protests-against-police-violence-in-portland/>
NOTE : PLEASE CHECK OUT THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE UP AT THE LINK, for live Tweets and other social media messages that I find impossible to reproduce here.

Above photo: Militarized police in Oregon, without apparent provocation, though there were approximately 200 to 300 protesters demonstrating, police scattered gas and crowd control munitions throughout Downtown Portland. July 16, 2020. Beth Nakamura/Staff Oregon Live.

Police Use Tear Gas In Violent Response

In Portland, on July 16, protesters held their 50th straight night of demonstrations against police violence and racism. Oregon Live reports <https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/2020/07/protests-mark-day-50-in-portland-thursday-amid-growing-attention-from-trump-administration.html> “Federal officers responded to one late-night demonstration downtown by using gas, smoke and impact munitions to press protesters away from two federal buildings.”

Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler called on federal officers to leave Portland, but they remain and continue to use aggressive and violent tactics. Brown called the deployment of federal officers “political theater” and a “blatant abuse of power by the federal government.”

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf traveled to Portland <https://www.oregonlive.com/politics/2020/07/homeland-security-head-calls-portland-demonstrators-violent-mob-defends-federal-officers.html> to meet with federal law enforcement officials. Wolf issued a statement  <https://www.oregonlive.com/politics/2020/07/homeland-security-head-calls-portland-demonstrators-violent-mob-defends-federal-officers.html>condemning the actions of some protesters during the seven weeks of demonstrations and said local and state elected leaders are failing to address the protests. Within hours of his arrival, police violence escalated.

Oregon Live reports, <https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/2020/07/protests-mark-day-50-in-portland-thursday-amid-growing-attention-from-trump-administration.html> “About 200 protesters marched to an East Burnside precinct where police and sheriff’s deputies work, the latest of many protests during the day. Officers blockaded entrances to the building, and several officers in riot gear stood posted outside. People chanted, ‘Who do you protect? Who do you serve?'” Police claimed they feared the building would be burned down and ordered the crowd to disperse at 10 pm. People remained chanting, “Quit your job.” In response to the order to disperse, the crowd grew to 300 with protesters holding lids lined with tin foil to reflect light back to the police. 

Daniel V Media


While Portland Police pushed protesters away from the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office a car was caught behind the police line. After officers broke the cars windows the driver reversed away from the police line and was rammed by a police car before they rushed and arrested him.

Some people in the crowd also shined flashlights or lasers toward police. Support vans, one supplying snacks and one providing medical care, arrived.

A live stream showed police using tear gas and other weapons.

At the same time, a smaller number of protesters gathered outside the federal courthouse and county jail, which have been at the center of nightly protests. Demonstrators moved to establish an encampment in a park across the street from the federal courthouse. Federal law enforcement responded to these protests with impact weapons and tear gas.

The crowd began to grow and by 11:15 p.m., more than one dozen officers, wearing either blue or camouflage uniforms, were posted near the building entrance. Two dozen more officers soon streamed out of the building to join them. As 11:30 pm approached, officers began firing projectiles into the crowd and advancing toward the protesters.  Protesters pushed back and police set off devices that made loud noises and released gas, smoke, and flashes. By midnight, most federal officers wearing camouflage appeared to have retreated.

Oregon Live reports “at least 18 people were booked into jail Friday morning on accusations often associated with protests, including interfering with officers and disorderly conduct.” Included was  Andrew Jankowski <https://twitter.com/andrewjank?lang=en>, a freelance journalist, whose arrest was captured on video by another journalist, Nicholas Lee, despite police efforts to prevent him from filming with blinding light pointed at him. Jankowski was arrested despite telling the police he was wearing a press pass and despite a preliminary injunction extended to Oct. 30 <https://www.oregonlive.com/news/2020/07/protection-for-journalists-legal-observers-at-protests-to-continue-judge-rules.html>, barring police from arresting or threatening journalists or legal observers.

The deployment of unmarked federal police who appear to be operating independently of the local authorities is of great concern. If this is allowed to happen in Portland, it can happen anywhere and severely inhibit First Amendment rights to protest.

Federal Agents Unleash Militarized Crackdown on Portland

Federal authorities said they would bring order to Portland, Ore., after weeks of protests there. Local leaders believe the federal presence is making things worse

Sergio Olmos, Mike Baker <https://www.nytimes.com/by/mike-baker>, and Zolan Kanno-Youngs <https://www.nytimes.com/by/zolan-kanno-youngs>
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/17/us/portland-protests.html?referringSource=articleShare <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/17/us/portland-protests.html?referringSource=articleShare>

Federal officers pulled a protester into a courthouse on July 10 as protesters gathered in downtown Portland, Ore.  (Credit...Dave Killen/The Oregonian, via Associated Press)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Federal agents dressed in camouflage and tactical gear have taken to the streets of Portland, unleashing tear gas, bloodying protesters and pulling some people into unmarked vans in what Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon has called “a blatant abuse of power.”

The extraordinary use of federal force <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/17/us/politics/federal-agents-portland-arrests.html> in recent days, billed as an attempt to tamp down persistent unrest and protect government property, has infuriated local leaders who say the agents have stoked tensions. “This is an attack on our democracy,” Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland said.

Portland Protests Reignited
Rather than tamping down persistent protests in Portland, Ore., a militarized presence from federal officers seems to have reignited them <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/18/us/portland-protests.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article>.
Late Friday night, Oregon’s attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, said her office had opened a criminal investigation into how one protester was injured near a federal courthouse. She also filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court accusing the federal agents of engaging in unlawful tactics and seeking a restraining order.

The strife in Portland, which has had 50 consecutive days of protests, reflects the growing fault lines in law enforcement as President Trump threatens an assertive federal role in how cities manage a wave of national unrest after George Floyd was killed by the Minneapolis police.

One Portland demonstrator, Mark Pettibone, 29, said he had been part of the protests before four people in camouflage jumped out of an unmarked van around 2 a.m. Wednesday. They had no obvious markings or identification, he said, and he had no idea who they were.

“One of the officers said, ‘It’s OK, it’s OK,’ and just grabbed me and threw me into the van,” Mr. Pettibone said. “Another officer pulled my beanie down so I couldn’t see.”

Mr. Pettibone said that he was terrified — protesters in the city have in the past clashed with far-right militia groups also wearing camouflage and tactical gear — and that at no point was he told why he was arrested or detained, or what agency the officers were with. He said he was held for about two hours before being released.

“It felt like I was being hunted for no reason,” Mr. Pettibone said. “It feels like fascism.”

In a statement issued on Friday, Customs and Border Protection described one case captured on video, saying agents who made an arrest had information that indicated a suspect had assaulted federal authorities or damaged property and that they moved him to a safer location for questioning. The statement, which did not name any suspects, said that the agents identified themselves but that their names were not displayed because of “recent doxxing incidents against law enforcement personnel.”

The agents in Portland are part of “rapid deployment teams” put together by the Department of Homeland Security after Mr. Trump directed federal agencies to deploy additional personnel to protect statues, monuments and federal property during the continuing unrest.

The teams, which include 2,000 officials <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/10/us/politics/homeland-security-statues-trump.html> from Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Transportation Security Administration and the Coast Guard, are supporting the Federal Protective Service, an agency that already provides security at federal properties.

Agents have been dispatched to Portland, Seattle and Washington, D.C., to guard statues, monuments and federal property, such as the federal courthouse in Portland, according to homeland security officials.

But the response by the homeland security agents in Portland has prompted backlash over whether the federal officers are exceeding their arrest authority and violating the rights of protesters by detaining demonstrators in the area around the federal courthouse.

The agents have the authority to make arrests if they believe that a federal crime has been committed. Homeland security has pointed to dozens of possible crimes in Portland, such as damaging of the federal courthouse, spray-painting of graffiti on federal property and the throwing of rocks and bottles at officers.

Law enforcement officials say it is rare for local police departments to request help from federal authorities — or for the federal government to deploy in a city without that consent — because of the risk of escalating an already volatile environment.

“The last people you really want are any of these federal officials,” said Gil Kerlikowske, the former commissioner of Customs and Border Protection and the former chief of the Seattle Police Department.

Billy J. Williams, the U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon, said in a statement on Friday that he was asking the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general to investigate reports of officers detaining protesters.

Governor Brown said in an interview that she asked the acting homeland security secretary, Chad F. Wolf, to remove federal officials from the streets and that he refused. She said the Trump administration appeared to instead be using the situation for photo-ops to rally his supporters.

“They are provoking confrontation for political purposes,” Ms. Brown said.

In early June, the administration deployed an array of federal agents to cities like San Diego, Buffalo and Las Vegas.

In Washington, tensions were heightened when the Park Police and Secret Service used chemical agents to disperse a crowd of protesters in Lafayette Park for a photo opportunity by Mr. Trump. Federal agents without any insignia also sparked fear and confusion in the demonstrations, and military helicopters <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/06/us/politics/protests-trump-helicopters-national-guard.html> flying below rooftop level sent protesters scurrying for cover.

Customs and Border Protection also sent drones, helicopters and planes to conduct surveillance of the protests in 15 cities. <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/19/us/politics/george-floyd-protests-surveillance.html>
Mr. Wolf, who arrived in Portland on Thursday, called the protesters a “violent mob” of anarchists emboldened by a lack of local enforcement.

Federal officers on the ground in Portland have deployed a range of forceful tactics: They appeared to fire less-lethal munitions from slits in the facade of the federal courthouse, one officer walked the street while swinging a burning ball emitting tear gas, and camouflaged personnel drove in unmarked vans.

Homeland security officers have been dispatched to help local law enforcement in the past, but typically when a request was made by local government or when there was a “national special security event” taking place that could be especially vulnerable to terrorism, such as the U.N. General Assembly or the Super Bowl.

Harry Fones, a homeland security spokesman, did not answer questions seeking additional details about the tactics of the officers in Portland, instead referring to a Customs and Border Protection statement <https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/speeches-and-statements/statement-cbp-response-portland-oregon> that said the federal officers did display insignia.

Mark Morgan, the acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said in a series of tweets <https://twitter.com/CBPMarkMorgan/status/1284206662434402305> on Friday that the agents from BORTAC, the equivalent of the agency’s SWAT team, would “continue to arrest the violent criminals that are destroying federal property & injuring our agents/officers in Portland.”

The demonstrations began in the aftermath of Mr. Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, drawing thousands of people to the streets to denounce police violence and racial injustice. On some nights, protesters would blanket the Burnside Bridge, each lying face down on the pavement for 8 minutes and 46 seconds <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/18/us/george-floyd-timing.html> in remembrance of Mr. Floyd.

Those mass demonstrations have waned, but hundreds have continued on, clashing with the police almost nightly. They have set off fireworks, lit fires and attempted to create an autonomous zone similar to one that existed up Interstate 5 in Seattle <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/01/us/seattle-protest-zone-CHOP-CHAZ-unrest.html>. Police officers have responded with tear gas, although a federal judge has since limited the use of that tactic, and dozens have been arrested.

The persistent unrest has frustrated city leaders, including Mr. Wheeler, who has often been a target of protesters. Some Black leaders in the community have also expressed disappointment, suggesting that the predominantly white protest crowd was seizing an opportunity and detracting from the vital efforts needed to reform policing.

City leaders have tried a variety of tactics to calm the tensions. Mr. Wheeler has pleaded for calm. The city’s police chief resigned. City commissioners have moved to cut some $16 million from the police budget.

But the protests have continued.

Mr. Trump has vowed to “dominate” protesters <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/02/us/politics/trump-law-enforcement-protests.html> and said last week that he had sent homeland security personnel to Portland because “the locals couldn’t handle it.”

“It’s a pretty wild group, but you have it in very good control,” he told Mr. Wolf.

One recent video appeared to show a protester, Donavan La Bella, being struck in the head by an impact munition while he was holding a sign across the street from the federal courthouse, leading to a bloody scene. His mother has told local media that he suffered skull fractures and needed surgery <https://www.oregonlive.com/news/2020/07/police-shoot-portland-protester-in-head-with-impact-weapon-causing-severe-injuries.html>.

Members of Congress from Oregon have called for an investigation, and Mr. Williams said the encounter had been referred to the Justice Department’s inspector general for further investigation. The state attorney general said on Friday that the agency and the Multnomah County district attorney had opened a criminal investigation.

Kelly Simon, the interim legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, said that the alarming federal tactics, such as the unmarked vans, have been used at times to intimidate immigrant communities, and that she worried the use of the tactics was growing.

“What we’re seeing in Portland should concern everybody in this country,” Ms. Simon said.

Protesters in downtown Portland on July 10.  (Credit...Dave Killen/The Oregonian, via Associated Press)



Were the Actions of Federal Agents in Portland Legal ?

The Department of Homeland Security can point to federal statutes protecting property to justify the arrests of protesters in Portland, Ore., but whether they stretched the law would be up to a judge

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/17/us/politics/federal-agents-portland-arrests.html?referringSource=articleShare <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/17/us/politics/federal-agents-portland-arrests.html?referringSource=articleShare>

While Virus Surges, Georgia Governor Sues Atlanta Mayor to Block Mask Rules

Gov. Brian Kemp filed a lawsuit against Keisha Lance Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta, to block the city’s mask requirement

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/17/us/brian-kemp-georgia-keisha-lance-bottoms-atlanta.html?referringSource=articleShare <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/17/us/brian-kemp-georgia-keisha-lance-bottoms-atlanta.html?referringSource=articleShare>


Jai Sen

Independent researcher, editor; Senior Fellow at the School of International Development and Globalisation Studies at the University of Ottawa

jai.sen at cacim.net <mailto:jai.sen at cacim.net>
Now based in New Delhi, India (+91-98189 11325) and in Ottawa, Canada, on unceded and unsurrendered Anishinaabe territory (+1-613-282 2900) 

CURRENT / RECENT publications :

Jai Sen, ed, 2018a – The Movements of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance. Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
Jai Sen, ed, 2018b – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ? (Indian edition). New Delhi : AuthorsUpfront, in collaboration with OpenWord and PM Press.  Hard copy available at MOM1AmazonIN <https://www.amazon.in/dp/9387280101/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1522884070&sr=8-2&keywords=movements+of+movements+jai+sen>, MOM1Flipkart <https://www.flipkart.com/the-movements-of-movements/p/itmf3zg7h79ecpgj?pid=9789387280106&lid=LSTBOK9789387280106NBA1CH&marketplace=FLIPKART&srno=s_1_1&otracker=search&fm=SEARCH&iid=ff35b702-e6a8-4423-b014-16c84f6f0092.9789387280106.SEARCH&ppt=Search%20Page>, and MOM1AUpFront <http://www.authorsupfront.com/movements.htm>
Jai Sen, ed, 2017 – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?.  New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press.  Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
SUBSCRIBE TO World Social Movement Discuss, an open, unmoderated, and self-organising forum on social and political movement at any level (local, national, regional, and global).  To subscribe, simply send an empty email to wsm-discuss-subscribe at lists.openspaceforum.net <mailto:wsm-discuss-subscribe at lists.openspaceforum.net>
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://lists.openspaceforum.net/pipermail/wsm-discuss/attachments/20200718/a9948ae4/attachment.htm>

More information about the WSM-Discuss mailing list