The current protests in Portland, which begin on or about May 28th, were in response to the death of George Floyd. These protests were centered around the themes of racial justice and police accountability. By-and-large the protests were peaceful. However, this does not obscure or apologize for the small minority of the protest that were in fact violent.
I am going to focus on the effects of ‘Protecting American Communities Task Force’ (PACT) federal forces arriving in Portland. I’ll limit my comments. These are just the observable facts, centering on the Multnomah County Justice Center (Where Portland Police headquarters is located) and the building next to it and separated by SW Main Street- The Portland US District Courthouse. The other notable area, is the tiny, 2 block, Lownsdale Park, which faces both of these buildings.
Our man, VeteranforPeace has been documenting the protests since they began, with an unedited live feed. His videos are not timestamped. However, he usually makes it to the center of protest somewhere around 10pm local time and stays as long as he can…which is often 1am or later, or until he gets forcibly repelled (like last night). I didn’t play with these snapshots or videos, they are original to his videos. They would all be at the approximate highest level of activity.
By June 22nd, there had been fences erected, in front of the Multnomah County Justice Center. Because the Police headquarters was the focal point of the protestors ire. Not the Federal building next to it. There are perhaps 800 people there? You judge. Maybe that many. before this time, they stood in the park and chanted. When the fences were erected, well then there was an obstacle to concentrate on. At this time, yes-people would throw shit and rattle the fence. But nothing too serious. It was almost entirely organized protest-chanting-sign waving, with the overwhelming majority of people in the park in front of the complexes.
In the park, facing the Justice Center.
In the cross street of the park, facing the justice center. Take note of that little monument in the upper right corner, upon which some people are sitting.
This is the Federal Courthouse on June 22nd. It has graffiti on the columns. No one is paying attention to it. They have no interest in the Federal building. They are facing Police headquarters.
The smallish crowd is walking past the Federal building to go sit in the park, or stand by the fences in front of police headquarters. You get the picture? NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE FEDERAL COURTHOUSE.
By July 8th, the crowds have become negligible. Very small. The fence around the Police headquarters is gone. The tiny crowd is reduced to sitting around the previously mentioned monument in the park, chanting, holding signs, and generally just having a good time (even if they appear to have a fire on the monument). 50 people? This is your Portland protests on July 8th at the height of activity on that day.
Fence gone. Practically no one by buildings.
The front of the Police Headquarters on July 8th. No fence, no people, no nothing.
Below is the Federal Courthouse on July 8th, well into the evening. No one.
This video below is VeteranForPeace describing the atmosphere on July 8th at around the 50 minute mark. This would be Day 41 of the protests.
Yup. So, pretty chill night down here. The justice center. The Federal building is quite calm and ah, the protestors are pretty calm. Not a whole lot going on. People are pretty disbursed. Not a whole lot of chanting.
July 12th. I cannot explain to you why or how things happened this way. I’m just going to say it. There are a few Portland police blocking 3rd street in front of the federal building. This would be on the North side, Salmon Street. You see the park to the right. There is virtually no one in the park or in front on the Courthouse or Police headquarters.
This is Portland police blocking access to the front of courthouse and cop headquarters. No big deal…except the following images…
July 12. VeteranforPeace (Eric Greenwood on twitter), walks up several streets away from the Federal building and finds federal forces deployed…to do what exactly? Do they consider themselves to be patrolling the streets of Portland as officers of the law? What is their justification? What is their mission here? their rules of engagement?
Very slow retreat.
Irritating people along the way.
July 12th. Some of PACT forces retreat slowly back down SW main street which leads them to the little park next to The Federal Courthouse.
Now some people are noticing more PACT forces emerging from the courthouse, where they stop and pose for the camera, just kind of aimlessly milling around.
People notice. All these Fed dudes standing around, waiting. Waiting for what.
Twenty minutes later.
This is what the start of the protest at the Federal Courthouse looked like, and this is why it started.
One day before, a protestor outside the Courthouse was shot in the head with a “non-lethal” munition; seriously wounded. In two more days one person will be “kidnapped” according to Oregon’s suit. These two highly unusual events would stand as prime motivation for an acceleration of a course which had already been set.
July 25. Now, there is no fence around the Multnomah County Justice Center, where the Portland Police Station is, but there is a fortified barricade around the Federal Courthouse that is home to Trump’s PACT forces.
Look at the size of the crowd as of last night. 10,000? Camera is in front of Federal building, facing Salmon street on the side of the Fed building.
In front of Federal Courthouse, facing the Police station.
July 25th. The park behind them.
Again…below is July 8th at a relatively similar time of highest activity.
This is the battle scene on July 25th from nearly identical angle.
Again. 50 people on July 8th.
There has been relatively little Federal activity outside the Courthouse since the original provocations, except at the end of the night when they exchange tear gas canisters with protestors and ultimately come out to expel them.
The protests as an organized or sizable entity, were arguably nonexistent the day PACT began its aggressive interaction with the citizens of Portland.
The immediate Courthouse property is the location where PACT are most unfettered by Oregon statutes. Operating outside that area is more prone to lawsuits.
Did PACT intend to have protestors follow them back to the courthouse on July 12th? No idea, you watch the video at around 19:50, sure looks like it. It was a slow, slow death-march in which they kept turning around to see if they were being followed. Ultimately that was the effect, and it was entirely predictable, as you will see, in the moment it was happening.
Did PACT know what the effect of the Fence>to barricade would have on protestors? Of course. I did when it was erected, as I stated in my post that day, not to mention that would clearly be the effect from watching what happened right fucking next door over the previous couple of weeks.
The current situation was entirely predictable, and would therefore make observers conclude that the Federal government’s motivations are nefarious. It is likely that very soon, perhaps tonight, when the protestors break through the barricade someone is going to get seriously hurt, and we have no idea what it will spiral into or if there exists any more of a ceiling for confrontation. If there is a ceiling above the current level of hostility, it is of the most dangerous variety.