As told by Christine Henderson at the Justice Center in Portland:
Everything you are seeing on the news about Portland is a lie.
The first thing you notice down on 3rd in front of the justice center is how clean and untouched almost everything is. The Elk statue is down, but only one bldg is sprayed with graffitti. Just one. The streets are clean, Lounsdale park and Chapman square are clean. Mark Hatfield square is untouched and so is city hall. Where the elk was is now a mound of dirt. I understand why it was set fire now, but I’ll explain that in another post.
The second thing you notice is how it smells – the marine air in a summer breeze, wafting along with the scents of burning sage, pot smoke and bbq ribs. It smelled like a summer picnic in Portland and that was the general atmosphere tonight too.
People were waiting, milling around chanting, and then they came, marching from the Salmon St Springs – the yellow wall of moms. A roar of respect from the crowd went up. Everyone applauded. The moms marched up 3rd and took position in a line in front of the justice center. More people came and now a crowd was formed in front of that building too.
Two small blocks, two small parks. That is the sum total of where everything is happening. The city isn’t trashed, isn’t on fire and it didn’t feel like a war zone tonight.
There were a few hundred people when we arrived, and a couple thousand when we left:
Someone had balloons, some people carried signs, a few drummers drummed, a guy on a skateboard was handing out squeaky pink rubber pigs he carried over his shoulder in a fishing net. There were medics and water stations. Some people were waiting for bbq.
The line of moms and the crowd by them were louder and their chanting seemed more organized. At the N graffitied bldg it was quieter, less people and the mood seemed more resigned to whatever the later night might bring. Some first nations people were kneeling there chanting and burning sage. A line of young people with plywood shields knelt, waiting patiently for god knows what. A black guy walked up and down reminding people to be calm, not to riot, and not provoke the feds we knew were inside waiting to come roaring out. People, including me, walked in and out of the pilars looking at the graffitti. I went to the doors and quietly told them to get out of our town. I could feel their eyes watching me behind their plywood barricade. I am sure they heard me and if they did, I’m glad.
The graffiti is beautiful btw. It needs to stay: as a reminder of what civil disobedience looks like.
The last thing I noticed was the absence of the ppd. There were no police barricades and no police lined up for kettling the protesters.
It all felt a bit surreal, but this whole year feels surreal.
We left at 11pm out of prudence.
I am getting too old to get my head bashed in, and we did not know what the later night might bring. More people were arriving as we left, but as of this writing at 1am I still have heard no flashbangs echoing up the hills to my house.
So if you have imagined Portland is in chaos, trashed and burnt to a crisp, stop. It is nothing of the kind. One building has spray paint on it. That is all. And that certainly does not warrant an invasion of hired nazi fed goons. They need to leave..now.