Hey, that's no way to say goodbye
Yesterday's announcement by the governor, that the federal stormtroopers currently occupying Portland will be leaving, created quite a hubbub nationwide. But if last night's episode of Riot-Palooza was any indication of the federal forces' intent, you might want to hold off on the sigh of relief.
What I saw from my limited Twitter vantage point was one of the most overblown performances by the feds in the whole sorry saga. There were more shock troops than ever before. New uniforms appeared. It seemed as though every type of federal badge imaginable was on hand. There were not one but two military-style helicopters in operation, and they were up there making their ungodly racket for six and a half hours.
The horrible smoke and tear gas, and other gases, were as bad as ever. Now the feds have a wicked-looking fogger to go along with the endless supply of gas canisters that they shoot at people.
It would be nasty stuff even if they used it sparingly, but it seems like gassing people is the federales' answer to everything. It's so excessive that now it's hurting, if not killing, the trees in the parks across from the federal courthouse. Even the demonstrators who show up in gas masks say their skin is burning by the time they go home.
The unmarked minivan that outraged the world was back in action. It and another unmarked vehicle were cruising in the vicinity of the courthouse. Armed dudes in camouflage would jump out, snatch somebody they were after, throw that person into the mom van, and drive off.
It seemed like there was a lot more arrest activity than on previous nights. The feds have got spotters up on the fancy courthouse balcony picking people out, and then identifying them with a green laser light so that the other federal officers can shoot them with "less lethal" munitions, lock them up, or both.
Given the off-the-charts level of aggression last night, it's hard to see the invasion force suddenly leaving Dodge. And anyway, how are they going to hand things over to the the state police? Will there really be a period when both feds and state troopers are working together? And is the Portland police bureau going to be back in the action?
Last night's protester crowd may have been in the 700-person range. The assemblies of 4,000 demonstrators may be over, but even so, 700 people can be a lot to handle if you don't know what you're doing. This crew of federal jackboots clearly doesn't know squat about crowd control. To them, everyone's an enemy to be subdued. One wonders whether state troopers will be any better. And of course, the Portland cops' performance is what got us into this mess, more or less.
I sure hope the outside feds are gone soon – and that the U.S. Marshals Service and Federal Protective Service, who will always be here, chill out. But at this point, it's a hope, not a good bet.
Meanwhile, there were some ugly videos from Springfield, Oregon – just outside of Eugene – on the old Twitter last evening as well. Black Lives Matter protesters down there found themselves dealing not only with the local police but also with fellow civilians who, shall we say, do not share their views. We haven't had that in Portlandia. Knock on wood.