Is it time for a curfew in Portland?
This weekend's developments on the Portland protest front were as disturbing as they've been in the whole epic drama. On Saturday afternoon and night, and again last night, "protesters and counter-protesters clashed," as the media would say. But let's be specific. At least one gun was fired. Mace was sprayed. Explosives were set off. A man was beaten with a baseball bat. The police were nowhere around any of it. And last night, a scene of absolute horror took place.
Some nut driving a white pickup truck with no license plates, with a female passenger on board, got into it with protesters downtown. Video shows him driving erratically on Taylor Street down by the infamous 7-Eleven. Some Tweeters said that he tried to run people over. Another report said a woman was attacked.
Somehow the truck wound up on the sidewalk at Broadway and Taylor, right in front of the beleaguered Columbia Sportswear store. At that point, several cameras were rolling. An angry crowd forced the guy out of his truck and beat him unconscious. He was outnumbered and overwhelmed.
As he sat, bloodied, on the asphalt, a member of the crowd delivered a devastating soccer kick from behind that knocked him out cold. I will resist the temptation to embed the appalling video on this page. If you want to watch it, here's the link. I'm sure it will be quite viral in no time.
An ambulance came and took the unconscious guy away. The cops towed the truck. His distraught passenger got in a car driven by someone else, and left. "That's what he gets" seemed to be the universal sentiment among the "protest" crowd.
If that guy dies, it was murder. Whatever crimes he may have committed (and he should be prosecuted for them), savagely beating him is not how a civilized society deals with such things.
It's clear that the situation in Portland has now degenerated to the point where lives are going to be lost, if one was not already lost last night. I don't know where the mayor and the governor have been all weekend, but they had better wake up and act soon. I'm happy I'm not in either of their shoes. However, if I were, I'd have to be considering something along these lines:
1. A state of emergency.
2. A citywide curfew, from sunset to sunrise, until things cool off. And a huge enforcement effort to back it up. I'm talking National Guard level. Along with a place to detain, overnight, up to hundreds of people who won't comply. The Convention Center would work. Or the Expo Center. Or an airplane hangar out in Troutdale. You want to protest? You still have 14 hours a day to do that. But if you march around at night, you go to jail.
3. Tight police monitoring, and controlling, of the "counter-protesters," just as the cops are all over the "protesters." End the widely held perception that the police are white supremacy sympathizers.
4. A demand that the rookie district attorney get off his high horse and get on board with enforcing a curfew.
5. A new police chief. The guy who's in there now can't handle this.
Because someone is going to get killed.
I repeat: Someone is going to get killed.
Maybe multiple someones.
Crazed zealots firing handguns and trying to run people over? Raging mobs beating people unconscious? The majority of Portlanders have had enough. It has to be stopped. It is the mayor's job, the governor's job, the district attorney's job, to bring it to an end.
And sadly, they're not doing their jobs right now.