The Portland Protests 2020 has brought something out to attention for the entirety of the nation- politicians don’t always support the government, especially when they are in the wrong. When the Mayor of Portland Ted Wheeler inhaled a blast of tear gas from the grenades that the riot police threw at the peaceful protestors, one thing was clear- this wasn’t a hotshot mayor, this was a human being, claiming that ‘Black Lives Matter.’ This was the first time in the history of Portland that someone in authority was actually siding with the protestors, and not managing them as the POTUS would ask them to.
The Mayor’s target for these Portland Protests 2020 was the federal enforcers that the President had launched into Portland- one that definitely went above and beyond basic human rights, and the Amendments in the American constitution. These federal troops were employed after protestors allegedly encroached upon a state courthouse for a month after the heinous killing of George Floyd by the law enforcement.
Wheeler was talking to a huge crowd outside the courthouse, and while his voice was drowned by the Portland Protests 2020, he did not forget to talk about how unconstitutional the step taken by the President was, and how they would keep protesting until the federal troops are taken away. He described the tactics used by the troops as ‘abhorrent’ and their occupation ‘illegal’. It is no surprise that the Mayor of Portland has become a major proponent of the Black Lives Matter movement, seeing as basic human rights are at stake.
Last week, the Portland protests 2020 sparked off at least 18 arrests by the police, where reports were registered against protestors committing arson or assaulting the law enforcement. On the other hand, the protests that began as a result of George Floyd’s death have claimed that the law enforcement hasn’t really amended its way of dealing with problems and are now shoving protestors in unmarked vehicles to be taken someplace away. And this, Mayor Wheeler mentions, has created unparalleled tensions in the entire city.
But, this isn’t anything new, is it? Portland has had a history of being weird and upending national politics with its dissent. And the very nature of the protests against the federal troops is tantamount of the spirit of Portland itself. According to Randy Blazak of the Portland University, the people of Portland aren’t mainstream like New York or Washington- they leave a lot of room on the political margins- ones that end up affecting the national politics. Yet, the image of a common Portland citizen- a liberal slacker isn’t exactly a clear picture of what happens in the city.
The Portland Protests 2020 has opened up the city, with Randy Blazak talking about how the various citizens living in the city all follow varied ideologies. They have their own share of communists, anarchists, Neo-Nazis, and white supremacists. While there are some who believe that the city’s majority white population would be enough to establish a white supremacist area around, several committees against Hate Crimes are making that difficult for them.
But this multifacetedness of the city also makes it quite an interesting place to conduct protests. And the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement is a testament to that. Interestingly, the balance is well-maintained throughout the region. Whenever there is an insurgence of white supremacists from the Far-Right, the Anti-fascist group in the region- the Anti-fa come out in order to counter them. When last August saw the Proud Boys coming to Portland, the white supremacist group got held up by an entire wall of protestors.
Antifa protestors believe that there is no reason why the white supremacists should be given any more attention than they are. But, if they are allowed to come and protest- things would get violent within minutes. And as unfortunate as it may be, it would still be better if they were violent against a group that was ready to handle the worst.
On the other hand, the Proud Boys believe that they would keep coming down and creating ruckus until the Mayor stops supporting the leftists openly. The leader of the Proud Boys has mentioned that they want the Mayor to call the Antifas by name, and only then will they stop creating a ruckus everywhere. And it is quite fortunate that while there have been standoffs, no real skirmish has occurred just yet.
Black Lives Matter: Then Newest Addition to A Seminal Case
Portland’s radical politics and protests have spilled out of roads and bars and entered the hub of social media. And Justin Allen is one such individual who decided to do something about the widespread anarchy that can sometimes lead to the death of innocents or destruction of property. In fact, his entry into being a protestor took place back in 2017, when a hate crime shook the entire foundations of the city.
When the Black Lives Matter was still a fledgling institution and George Floyd was still available, an alleged white supremacist stabbed a couple of individuals who were shielding two African American girls from his hateful rant. And when he was being taken to court, he believed that liberalism could only lead to that- and nothing more. While Allen was an onlooker at that time, he decided it was time to get his hands bloody- precisely why he went on to use his camera- not because he desired a life of taking pictures of protestors filling up the street, but be in the very thick of things. In 2019, he decided to be a part of a far-right group, so that he could weaken and find information from within.
Incidentally, what he gleaned soon turned to be the primary form of evidence in the Cider Bar Riot that took place in 2019. As he was recording the far-right group- the Patriotic Prayer, he found them discussing how best to confront left-wing supporters. And as it goes, the Portland Protests 2020 seemed to be quite an extension on the brawl that took place that night as people from both ends started taunting each other. Interestingly, it was Allen’s recording which proved that the riot was completely premediated and definitely not coincidental. The Far- Right members were talking about carrying weapons and pepper spray in a bar, of all places. With the evidence in tow, five members of the Patriotic Prayer were accused of inciting a riot, which included their leader Joey Gibson.
Unfortunately, Allen’s name did come out through the media as a witness to the entire debacle. And as it goes, he had to face a lot of threats and flak on social media. Yet, he believes it his moral duty to not back down and testify as he prepares for court. He mentioned how it was important to bring out law enforcement when things didn’t look like settling. And if someone did have evidence which could offer long-term solutions- all the better.
On the other hand, the leader of Patriotic Prayer Joey Gibson mentioned that he was never a part of the premeditated riot. In fact, he had gone there as an invitation from several members to film the Antifa members. In his statement, he mentioned how he simply wanted to show the world a bar where people would strut in with weapons and pepper spray. The attorney of Gibson has maintained that there is no legal proceeding to bind Gibson as the controller of the entire riot. As can be seen from the video, all Gibson did was stayed at the side, get sprayed in the face, and ask people not to throw things at each other.
Portland Protests 2020: ‘A nation poised for outrage’
Last year, the Mayor himself mentioned that the city of Portland had close to 200 demonstrations that year- with little violence. Now, it is pretty evident why the number of protests seems to be increasing at a staggering rate. Movements like Black Lives Matter get immense traction on social media- and anyone screaming the loudest usually comes to the forefront. And this very reason has helped many individuals climb to the top. This comes in context with the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, where the situation cooled down after a few days as the family didn’t want any further trouble- but the protests raged on in other cities throughout the country.
And while Mayor Wheeler did want the Portland Protests 2020 to end after a while, as he claimed that everyone’s voices had been heard, it would be pretty hard for everyone to back down after getting hurled tear gas at your face. Mayor Wheeler considered the entire situation to be slowly getting out of control due to the unconstitutional judgment passed against the citizen of Portland.