Portland, the City of Rebels

After nearly two months of telling the Portland Police that Black Lives Matter, the Trump administration came to take a big swing at Portland and missed so hard they hit themselves in the back of the head.

Courage is contagious. I hope you’re feeling it.

(Protesters come in all shapes and sizes. Photo credit: Austen Lethbridge-Scarl)

From Naked Athena [NSFW] to Captain Portland to the moms who got teargassed and then came back for more, Portlanders are getting national attention every night for standing against the federal officers who thought they could brutalize us into submission.

(And…somebody brought a goat? Probably don’t bring a goat.)

And whether you disapprove of property damage or correctly understand that violence is a concept reserved for sentient beings and can not be applied to buildings, protesters setting the cops’ union hall on fire was one hell of a black eye for the Portland Police, who had been fiercely guarding it for weeks. (It wasn’t a Reichstag, guys.)

Portland has shown the world it will not be ruled by force. But it did more than that. The Trump administration has openly said that Portland is a preview of a system they intend to unleash on cities across the country, and we proved that they can be resisted. We made them look vulnerable. When they roll into Los Angeles or Chicago or Miami, everyone is already going to know they can be beaten. “Portland did it. So can we.”

The story isn’t over. Trump only knows how to double down and that’s what he’ll do. It should be clear by now that escalation doesn’t work (you can’t defeat a protest against violence with violence!), but these guys don’t understand that, and there aren’t many directions left to escalate that don’t involve some kind of lethal force. But their plan to roll out secret police across the country fell on its face because the first place they picked a fight was a city that had already been doing this for almost 50 days.

(They also apparently received no crowd control training, which is just so in character for this White House, isn’t it?)

If you want to join the movement, the streets are ready for you. But things have changed a bit since the days of the Zenith gardens and you should keep some preparations in mind:

  • Mask up!
  • Wear a helmet
  • Bring lots of water
  • Bring a buddy, if you can
  • Memorize the National Lawyers’ Guild hotline, or write it on your body: (503) 902-5340
  • Don’t film other people’s faces. The cops, they do love to retaliate.

(Lilith Sinclair has a much more thorough protest preparation guide that I highly recommend.)

We. Are. Rebels. All of us. This whole damn city. We will not be dominated. We will not be quelled. We protect Black lives because we protect us. We live and die together.

This is the power that can save the planet.

About Austen Lethbridge-Scarl

Austen Lethbridge-Scarl (he/him) is the editor of the XRPDX newsletter. Besides climate issues, he focuses on racial justice, police abolition and antifascism.


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