"Protests will continue whether the tear gas comes from Wheeler or Trump"


Are you like me – are you spending too much time following the Portland protest news? I'm not getting much done with the battle for democracy being fought out just shouting distance from me. If it weren't for the Covid, I'd be down there joining in. So much for domestic and professional productivity.

But if you have a few more minutes you're willing to invest in the subject, here's an interesting diatribe, published yesterday, by the Portland lefty activist Greg McKelvey. It provides some great background on what was going on in Portland for 40 days and 40 nights before the border patrol Rambos showed up and the national media noticed.

It's a bit long, and the author conveniently leaves out the fact that he's currently the campaign manager for Sarah Iannarone, who's running against the incumbent mayor, Ted Wheeler, in the November election. But McKelvey lands some well-deserved body blows on the Portland police, the police union, and Wheeler, who in the city's outdated, goofball "commission" form of government, also acts as the police commissioner. McKelvey additionally fills in some important history, including a few tidbits I hadn't heard before.

He writes, in part (with links omitted):
The national argument now occurring between Trump and... Wheeler is not over tactics, rhetoric, or even the views of the nonviolent demonstrators. The argument is about which armed force should have the right to “quell” the protests. The people of Portland see right through this, and it is understandably frustrating to see the Portland mayor lauded in national circles for condemning the presence of Trump’s forces while continuing to work with him in trying to end the protests. Both President Trump and Wheeler want the protests to end, they want credit for ending them. Both of them gas, beat, and arrest nonviolent demonstrators on a nightly basis....
Portland’s mayor seems out of place to those who think of the city as a progressive bastion. Wheeler is a sixth-generation Oregonian — meaning his family was a part of Oregon’s white utopian founding. His family business, timber, is one of Oregon’s largest cash crops, Wheeler is one of the wealthiest people in the state. He is closely linked to Portland Business Alliance (PBA), which recently attempted to blame their COVID-linked losses on Black Lives Matter demonstrators. On behalf of PBA, Wheeler opposed grassroots climate action when 65% of Portland voters approved a 1% tax on major corporations to invest in the Portland Clean Energy Fund. Portland voters approved campaign finance limits, and Wheeler continued to violate the law and challenge it in court, accepting huge contributions from wealthy out-of-state donors and disgraced Trump bundler Gordon Sondland....
Instead of listening to the community, Wheeler and his police have been engaged in a communications war against demonstrators. Officials have tried to paint demonstrators as radical violent anarchists that are distracting from the movement and not speaking for the Black community. On its face, this claim assumes the Black community is a monolith. But, this is also the exact rhetoric that Trump has deployed against demonstrators. What outside spectators view as a progressive city demanding Trump leave is, in reality, a conservative mayor arguing with Trump over who gets to gas, beat, and arrest the demonstrators they both loathe....
Demonstrators are angry, but still focused on the movement for Black Lives. We don’t want to hear about broken windows or graffiti. We don’t want to hear about peaceful versus violent demonstrators, while there is no justice for the extrajudicial murders of so many Black Americans. We don’t want to hear about how these demonstrations should come to an end. This is about Black lives. Protests will continue whether the tear gas comes from Wheeler or Trump.
I don't buy all of McKelvey's piece – it's heavy-handed in many places – but a lot of it rings true. And overall, it's quite something. As the old bloggers used to say, read the whole thing.

Despite my speculation the other day that Ted may be getting tired, he is showing no signs of packing it in. But he'd better be careful. That's Frank Ivancie Territory up ahead.

UPDATE, later that day: Word on the street is that the mayor is planning to show up at the protests tonight. That ought to be interesting. Portlanders, keep your Twitter on about 9:00.

Comments

  1. Profound to see the name Kendra James in the link. She's the one I memorialize in my own life. I looked at her picture when she was killed and I just felt something powerful. I thought she looked like Lauryn Hill with the dignity of Billie Holiday.
    There wasn't a single aspect of what happened that night that seemed credible to me starting with the initial stop and going right through until the case faded away and disappeared. We're paying the price now for a lack of accountability in the past.

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