Violence, Demonstrations and Race in Oregon
May 31, 2017 11:13 PM   Subscribe

An infamous racist demonstrator stabbed three men on a Portland light-rail train last Friday, killing two. As previously planned demonstrations by alt-right groups (and counterdemonstrations by Antifa and Black Bloc activists) on June 4th (a "Trump Free Speech Rally") and June 10th (an anti-Muslim rally) promised more violence, the Mayor called for their cancellation, raising free speech issues. The local Republican leader suggested that private militia (such as the extremist Oathkeepers and 3 percenters) might be in order to defend conservatives, raising far darker questions. The first demonstration is Sunday; the second was canceled voluntarily today (and rescheduled for Seattle.) Why so much racial conflict in liberal Portland? Well, there's a lot of history.

Oregon has an ugly and unusual racial history. Unlike California, where slavery existed in many forms even after it was admitted as a free state, territorial voters banned both slavery and Black immigration as far back as 1843, 16 years before statehood. According to the Oregon Historical Society, immigrants, many from border states such as Missouri, feared unfair competition from slaveholding neighbors as they had previously experienced.

Exclusion laws banning new African American immigrants were passed in 1844 (punishable by lashing, but repealed by voters within a year before it could be enforced), in 1849 (rescinded in 1854), and in Oregon's constitution at statehood in 1859. While enforced against only one person, a West Indies sailor named Jacob Vanderpool, expelled in 1850, and voided by the 14th amendment in 1868, the exclusion clauses were not finally repealed until 1926 and contributed to Oregon's low African American population: just 128 in 1860 (of 52,000 residents) and only 69,000 today, more than half in Portland.

Oregon did not ratify the 15th amendment, granting Blacks the vote, until 1959, though it became law in 1870 with ratification, and the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed its force that same year.

The Klu Klux Klan had a major presence in Oregon in the 1920s, counting the Governor and Portland's mayor and police chief as supporters at one point. Because of the lack of ethnic minorities in the state, their target was primarily Catholics (my mother's family of physically imposing, Irish lawyers in Medford, Oregon fought them both in and out of court). In the 1930s, the pro-Nazi German Bund organization was openly active.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the B'nai B'rith called Portland "the skinhead capital of the country" and violent clashes with punks were common at punk rock shows in town. In the worst incident, 3 skinheads beat Mulugeta Seraw, an Ethiopian immigant and graduate student, to death with a baseball bat.

Currently, an activist named Joey Gibson -- living in Vancouver WA across the Columbia River -- is leading a series of confrontational demonstrations including Saturday's and the one on April 29th. Portland also has a very active and organized group of Antifa and Black Bloc demonstrators, like Berkeley, making it a tempting target for alt-right activists looking for clashes. The Antifa group grew out of the punks and anti-racist skins who fought neo-nazi skinheads back in the 1980s and 1990s.
posted by msalt (256 comments total) 104 users marked this as a favorite
There are articles in Gizmodo and the Atlantic about Oregon's racist history. Unfortunately, they are not well sourced and push a narrative that Oregon was settled as a "Whiteopia" far beyond any evidence they provide. This paragraph from the Gizmodo article is a good example:
"Oregon has had more than its fair share of utopia community experiments. The definitive book on the topic is Eden Within Eden: Oregon’s Utopia Heritage, where you’ll find plenty of those utopian communities catalogued. But the book kind of misses the forest for the trees in not recognizing the fact that the entire state of Oregon was founded as a kind of racist’s utopia. Race isn’t explored in the otherwise excellent book."
Unfortunately, the article does not provide any alternative evidence to document its thesis that "Oregon was founded as a racist utopia." Neither article provides context about the immigration bans or prohibitive limits ($1,000 bonds) on AA immigration in other states at the time, such as Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
posted by msalt at 11:20 PM on May 31, 2017 [7 favorites]

Let's also not forget Vanport.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:40 PM on May 31, 2017 [10 favorites]

Thanks for posting, this is incredibly well researched and informative. If horrifying.
posted by corb at 11:48 PM on May 31, 2017 [7 favorites]

Thanks, Corb.

>Let's also not forget Vanport.

There's a lot more that coupld have been said, obviously. Not least of which is the history of redlining, which continued up through at least 1990. At that point, 85% of all African Americans in the state of Oregon lived in one neighborhood, NE Portland.
posted by msalt at 12:19 AM on June 1, 2017 [13 favorites]

Totally, msalt. When I moved into the NE in the mid-90s, there was still a Black Cowboy organization that paraded on horseback once a week. Long, long gone.

Great post!
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:23 AM on June 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

Interesting!. A little known fact I ran across a while back -- some of the earliest settlers of Oregon after Native Americans were Latino cowboys. And the word buckaroo -- as in Oregon's long-running Mollala Buckaroo rodeo-- is a corruption of the Spanish "vaquero" meaning cowboy.

Also some Russian fur trappers coming down from the north, but they drifted off quickly once the fur wealth was depleted.
posted by msalt at 12:27 AM on June 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

the downside of freedom is FREEDUMB.

Oregon has long been a laboratory in this regard ... as has some of the Canadian real estate more or less due north, which is where I find myself. This Mike Oldfield track comes to mind. Caught out in a storm, running low on fuel. Nothing to do but set your bearings, get your finest out, fly straight through the heart of the bastard ...
posted by philip-random at 1:34 AM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

(Unrelated, but somehow seemed fitting in its depiction of a motley urban train journey: may this Mr.Jukes (Londoner Jack Steadman) feat. Charles Bradley "Grant Green" video soulfully accompany your Max rides.)
posted by progosk at 1:45 AM on June 1, 2017

Thanks for this great post! I had been reading the story today, but no news outlet has provided this level of context.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:55 AM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I live in the Spokane area of eastern Washington, quite near Coeur d'Alene, ID, and really not that far from Whitefish, MT.

I mean, I get that Portland has a historical race problem, but things have been pretty active over here. And the widespread land spaces and rural mountainous areas make it pretty easy for compounds to be founded. (And also for difficult situations for both sides when things start to go wrong.)

This attack in Portland was hideous. The number of trucks (always trucks) I see driving around with various KKK/white supremacist/3%er symbols on their back windows or bumpers makes me fear for my own safety as a gay man. I can't imagine being non-white and living in this area. It must be exhausting.
posted by hippybear at 3:25 AM on June 1, 2017 [33 favorites]

Also some Russian fur trappers coming down from the north, but they drifted off quickly once the fur wealth was depleted.

The issue with Oregon, as far as Russian fur traders were concerned, is that it was effectively controlled by British and American fur companies like the Hudson's Bay Company. As a consequence of this, the Russian American Company was forced further south to northern California, and never got a foothold in the PNW beyond some contract agreements with British or American ships.

Anyway, all of this is an aside from the horrible tragedy of what happened in Portland. It's absolutely sickening.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 3:34 AM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

Portland was also the site of the murder of Mulugeta Seraw by members of a skinhead gang with ties to Tom Metzger's White Aryan Resistance.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:58 AM on June 1, 2017

So, I didn't know any of this about Portland, and all I know of the place is what I've heard about the show Portlandia. One of the things I've read about the show is that the creators described Portland as a sort of liberal utopian enclave.

...with this info as context, that description has taken on a really chilling tone.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:26 AM on June 1, 2017 [14 favorites]

The local Republican leader suggested that private militia (such as the extremist Oathkeepers and 3 percenters) might be in order to defend conservatives, raising far darker questions.

In other Republican-retaliation-against-protesters news, in New Jersey a couple of weeks ago Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen added a little personal note to a fundraising letter sent to a board member of a bank, warning that one of the bank's executives was a primary organizer of a group pressuring him to meet with his constituents. The executive has since resigned.
posted by XMLicious at 4:38 AM on June 1, 2017 [12 favorites]

Last night I read the short bios of the two victims who died and it sounded exactly like the type of people who would stand up to a literal nazi. I'm still struggling to figure out if I'm doing everything I can to oppose this type of anti-American terrorism... actually I'm pretty sure I'm not but I guess is trying to figure out how to do more without burning out. It feels like the best way to memorialize them from Tennessee.
posted by midmarch snowman at 5:28 AM on June 1, 2017 [11 favorites]

Meche went to my high school--I know a lot of people who knew him :(
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:40 AM on June 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

At that point, 85% of all African Americans in the state of Oregon lived in one neighborhood, NE Portland.

I lived on NE 6th near MLK in 1995-6, and can attest to this. Even coming from DC, the obvious, concentrated ghettoization - and the sheer, overwhelming whiteness of the rest of the city - was pretty startling.
posted by ryanshepard at 5:41 AM on June 1, 2017 [8 favorites]

There's at least one previous FPP about Oregon's racial history. It might be covered in one of the links above, but the ones I read didn't mention that in addition to the various racial exclusion laws and redlining targeting black residents, there were a series of attacks on Chinese workers, including the killings at Deep Creek in Wallowa County. Oregon is a great place, but like a lot of places I think people have been slow to acknowledge and come to terms with the more unpleasant parts of the history.

Let's also not forget Vanport.

My family lost their house in that flood, but because they were white and not subject to redlining, it ended up working out fine for them in the end, though obviously it was a blow at the time.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:51 AM on June 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

creators described Portland as a sort of liberal utopian enclave.


1) utopia isn't all it is cracked up to be.
2) TV lies.
3) artists use satire. Sometime suitably.


I had to go look up what 3%er was but Oathkeeper? Last time I looked at 'em via had 'a few' (30%) of the front page articles about Obama and his violations of this or that. Not a single Trump violated this or that, just links to news stories. Perhaps at year 7 of the Trump admistration they'll get around to the posting of violations?

I'm betting while the 3%ers claim they "won't tolerate any reckless violence on the part of authorities." the actual reporting by whatever passes for their official organs are rather quiet about, say the video where a therapist was shot while lying on the ground with his hands up. Or that Toyota with 40+ bullets - none of which hit either passenger.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:03 AM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Klan was at its zenith in the 1920s, it was a major presence nationwide, not just in Oregon. It was a bit more mainstream too, though it did organize a boycott of my Catholic grandfather's grocery/butcher shop in Pennsylvania that put him out of business in the 30s.
I've visited Portland for 2 or 3 weeks a year since the 90s, yeah, it's not all like Portlandia. And it has gotten considerably rougher since the 2008 downturn. There are lots more places where I wouldn't go after dark. The MAX doesn't feel as safe.
posted by Bee'sWing at 6:05 AM on June 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

What gets me really angry is the republican spin on the while thing.

"See he was a Bernie supporter, these racist leftist wackos are out if control"

This has to be bad faith right? Can they really not hear him reciting all of their own talking points? Do they really think that repeatedly calling leftism racist will do anything about their own party's strategic embrace of racism?
posted by idiopath at 6:08 AM on June 1, 2017 [10 favorites]

Do they really think that repeatedly calling leftism racist will do anything about their own party's strategic embrace of racism?

They don't care about that. The only issue is to muddy the waters so that when accusations of racism are leveled against them, they can claim that "everybody does it," "it's complicated," and so forth. The point is to degrade the meaning of the accusation to the point that folks can dismiss it as partisan hot air rather than an inconvenient truth.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 6:14 AM on June 1, 2017 [49 favorites]

“We’re thinking about that. Because there are now belligerent, unstable people who are convinced that Republicans are like Nazis.”

And what better way to clear up that unfortunate misunderstanding than having the Republican Party put a militia of brownshirted thugs on the streets to crack a few heads?
posted by Naberius at 6:21 AM on June 1, 2017 [28 favorites]

There was a pretty good exhibit on black Portland at the Oregon Historical Society a couple of years ago. When I visited it I got to talking to a woman who was also visiting the exhibit, and she told me about her mother who bought a house on Hawthorne in the middle of last century because "no one was going to tell her where to live."
posted by Automocar at 6:47 AM on June 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

My best friend moved to Portland in the early 90s based only on information we had at the time that it was way more liberal and open minded than our small midwestern hometown. And she liked the outdoors and hiking and was pretty granola/crunchy.

She didn't last more than a few years because of the racism and outright segregation she saw there (she's white, btw).
posted by cooker girl at 6:47 AM on June 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

She didn't last more than a few years because of the racism and outright segregation she saw there (she's white, btw).

I lasted just over 2 years in Portland, partly for this very reason. It's still like that to a large degree. Generally speaking, Portland was the worst place I've ever lived. People are just kind of... off, there.
posted by Automocar at 6:50 AM on June 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

In the Repubkican world actual literal hate rallies by actual literal Nazis are "free speech" whilst Kathy Griffith is beyond the pale... it's fair to say it's a worldview that reveals in its own supposed victimhood while doing as much as possible to victimize others.
posted by Artw at 6:50 AM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

This has to be bad faith right?

Partly yes, partly no. From what I could tell based on news sources and JJ McNab's twitter feed with pics of various of his Facebook posts, he has no coherent ideology other than violent white supremacy and wacko sovereign-citizen-like anti-authoritarianism. He seems to define himself exclusively by what he hates: people telling him he can't do anything he wants, and people who aren't white. If you happen to be both, well, guess what he feels about that.

Looked at through that particular prism, it's no huge surprise that he could have been a Bernie supporter. Being a white supremacist and wacko anti-authoritarian is not the sole province of the right wing in the US. It *does* happen to be where you're most likely to find that ilk, but in this case, I wouldn't call this guy either right wing OR left wing. He's fueled by hate. Of non-whites, whites who don't hate non-whites, and anyone who attempts to set limits on his behavior.
posted by tclark at 6:50 AM on June 1, 2017 [6 favorites]

At roughly the same time, some fuckstump deliberately ran over two Quinalt men at a campground just outside Aberdeen, WA. One has died. The fuckstump was shouting racial slurs and making war whoops while he ran their bodies over.

I've been having a real hard time dealing with these incidents... not because they're shocking, but because people keep saying they're sooooo shocked that this happened in a liberal place, why, if Portland isn't safe, nowhere is safe, blah blah blah. Really? REALLY?! We have to stop pretending that racism is this thing that only happens in the South, or that racism only comes from old people and as soon as they die racism will die as well. We have to stop deluding ourselves like this. Our society is deeply, inherently racist, and this shit happens EVERYWHERE. There is no special protected area where racism doesn't exist, because it exists inside every last one of us that was born or raised here. This country was founded on the idea that white people can just steamroll anyone who gets in the way of us taking whatever the fuck we want. That's what Manifest Destiny was, just a pretty excuse for genocide dressed up in religion. And it continues to this day.

I think I've reached the point where I no longer believe this country can be saved from itself.
posted by palomar at 6:52 AM on June 1, 2017 [66 favorites]

There's a guy I know of in Seattle, an older guy who dated my mother in law for a bit, who she drifted away from because it gradually emerged that he was a conspiracy theorist who hung out with a bunch of similar nutjobs and might be wildly antisemitic and maybe a Nazi. Anyway, when they first met he was into Bernie because Bernie "would do something about the banks".

Oh, and he remains till this day a hardline Trump supporter.
posted by Artw at 6:55 AM on June 1, 2017 [15 favorites]

(I say this not because it's typical, quite the opposite, but because it is an outlier that is possible)
posted by Artw at 6:56 AM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yeah, let's not forget that the Venn diagram of Bernie and Trump supporters has an overlap where you'll generally find people opposed to The Establishment in whatever configuration that might be, which really has no wing on the political spectrum, so the framing of Christian as a "leftist" is fucking laughable, not least of all in conjunction with his virulent xenophobia.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:04 AM on June 1, 2017 [25 favorites]

keep saying they're sooooo shocked that this happened in a liberal place

I don't think it's right to describe Aberdeen as a liberal place; it's best known as the small town from which Kurt Cobain fled as soon as he could.
posted by Slothrup at 7:39 AM on June 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

There's at least one previous FPP about Oregon's racial history.

Also in this 2014 FPP, Portland, Portlandia, and Whiteness, there was a lot of discussion about it too.
posted by fuse theorem at 7:45 AM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Generally speaking, Portland was the worst place I've ever lived. People are just kind of... off, there.

Oh come on
posted by OverlappingElvis at 7:47 AM on June 1, 2017 [10 favorites]

Oh Portland. My hometown and the only city I really love. It's got serious problems, and it isn't the liberal utopia it's made out to be. But it is a lovely place with an ugly history.

Portland, like everywhere is a complicated place. Mega racist history? Yeah totally. But we also have folks like these guys who stand up to it. A bar that's a haven for white supremecists*? We've got those too. But we also have bars in the same neighborhood that stand up as well. The thing about Portland, and Oregon in general, is that it's a place of extremes in both directions on just about any topic. I mean, we've had religious cults poisoning whole towns, and the first openly transgender mayor in the country. The statements "Portland is Racist" and "Portland is Tolerant" are a perfect example of a dialectic where the truth is probably closer to the middle, even though those extremes are also true. Portland, by it's location in Oregon, is a strange place, especially once you start to scratch past the surface. That surface layer is a bit thicker these days, and you have to claw through more boutique donut shops to get there, but once you do, things get weird deeply disturbing.

*I haven't been in years, but there was a time 5-6 years ago when the owner was pretty damn chill with having white supremacists in the bar, and anyone remotely not lily-white was at best served last. At worst, they were actually asked to leave or ignored until they left. Maybe its better today? It's a shame too, I loved that bar, and have some really good memories there.
posted by furnace.heart at 7:48 AM on June 1, 2017 [20 favorites]

Generally speaking, Portland was the worst place I've ever lived. People are just kind of... off, there.

I've alwasy thought that wcfields description of a general PNW "Dusha" of sorts, fits pretty well. We're an odd bunch, in a odd landscape.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:08 AM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I don't think it's right to describe Aberdeen as a liberal place; it's best known as the small town from which Kurt Cobain fled as soon as he could.

Hi, I've lived in Washington my whole life, I'm well aware of what Aberdeen is and what it's like there. I'm talking about the reactions to the Portland incident (which this post was about), which are in line with the reactions that come out whenever anything shitty and racist happens in an area that white people consider to be a "liberal utopia". But in the scant few mentions I've seen about the two Quinalt men being run over by a fuckface in a big ol' lifted pickup truck (the vehicle of choice for out and proud white supremacists in the PacNW), I've seen a hell of a lot of this bullshit liberal handwringing "how could this happen here" going on there, too. It happens every. single. time.
posted by palomar at 8:09 AM on June 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

But it is a lovely place with an ugly history

See, I feel like statements like this can be really frustrating. There are a lot of people who are perfectly comfortable acknowledging the horror of racism in the past, and can even get behind things like reparations, but are really reluctant to admit that there are still actively racist elements of the things they love. Saying that Portland is a "lovely place", but has a "mega racist history" is a small thing, but it sticks out in this context as a way of minimizing the issues that are still very real.

I hope this doesn't come off as an attack against you furnace.heart, because the rest of your comment does a much better job of acknowledging that there are still problematic things about the city.
posted by parallellines at 8:15 AM on June 1, 2017 [7 favorites]

I agree with you, and I should have probably phrased that sentence better, and more in line with the idea that both capital R Racism and capital T Tolerance existing in the same city, at the same time.

Both are very true, alive, kicking and wrestling with each other.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:19 AM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

As I noted in the other thread: this is not the first time I've heard about Portland protesters deciding to come smash up Seattle rather than their home town. I'm told it's a big factor in the usual May Day problems and other "black bloc" stuff, too.

No clue if this is backed up by any data but given a lot of other Portland-Seattle relations (like sports), it's pretty easy to believe.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:32 AM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Everyone likes to talk up black block and May Day protestors in Seattle, but the fact of the matter is there hasn't been any significant trouble here since the WTO. Closest we got was the Milo thing where some Nazis decided to start shit so they would have an excuse to shoot someone.
posted by Artw at 8:40 AM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

In terms of liberal handwringing: I would like to bring in an observation that Joanna Russ made about women's history - that because of how history was written and taught, women were always starting from zero. So no matter how many, eg, women painters or novelists or doctors there had been, they would get forgotten or marginalized and the narrative would always be "look at [contemporary person] the first major woman novelist!" That is, mainstream writing about women always worked against creating a genealogy/lineage.

I want to suggest that this is not unique to the histories of marginalized groups, and that in fact it is a major way that oppression is perpetrated.

Because of the way that history is taught and news is promulgated, it becomes difficult for people of goodwill who are at one remove from a problem to understand it as persistent and pervasive. It's not just that people handwring because they are terrible; it's that unless you are already paying attention and plugged in, each incident does seem isolated, because that is the narrative you are given.

I remember, in fact, that in the nineties it was exceedingly difficult to get white people to understand that police brutality even happened. There was an anarchist fanzine called The Match which ran a column, "Who The Police Beat", which collected all the news the author could find in the papers on this topic, and that was acknowledged as being very incomplete even at the level of "what gets reported".

Things are somewhat different now, but the work has to be creating the genealogy, because otherwise shock and surprise are the natural responses.
posted by Frowner at 8:42 AM on June 1, 2017 [39 favorites]

I think overall, it's important that when people talk about Portland or Seattle as liberal enclaves, it should also be made clear that these are two of the whitest cities in the country, in line with places like Wichita KS, Fort Wayne IN, and Omaha NE.
posted by parallellines at 8:45 AM on June 1, 2017 [11 favorites]

I think overall, it's important that when people talk about Portland or Seattle as liberal enclaves, it should also be made clear that these are two of the whitest cities in the country, in line with places like Wichita KS, Fort Wayne IN, and Omaha NE.

If you read the links this is made very clear!
posted by OverlappingElvis at 9:06 AM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

When I first moved out here, to Oregon and then to Portland, occasionally I'd hear people say, "no one is racist here." And I'd laugh and say, because there's no black people! This would make them deeply uncomfortable. Frankly, I've never met a group of people more deeply uncomfortable talking about race and racism than people here in Portland. The thing is, when you encounter no black people or very few people of color in you day-to-day, how do you even know how racist you are or aren't.

I was in high school in northern Mississippi and the race issues there are fascinating, troubling, maddening and common. People there would out and out say, "I hate black people." Or "I hate white people." Something about that is actually a little better than uncomfortable silence and "no opinion, thanks." It's not great. It's not good but at least these people have a feeling about race and it can be talked about.

Portland is not special for its racism or lack of racism. Portland is like a lot of places that are waking up to the issues in their community and in the country. You can actually have an open discussion about race and people are starting to have opinions now. That's a good thing. But, it's still wack because we are still really white and we are still living in a country that is lead by a white male who is a racist, misogynistic rich idiot. I'm disgusted that they won this round.

But the next group that needs to get woke and active is the group with the enduring power - white males. These heroic victims are something of a wake-up call to white males that they need to also be the change if they don't want to get knifed on a train. It hurts but I feel like if the victims were the teen, Muslim girls, this event would have a lesser impact. It would just be our everyday kind of terrorism.
posted by amanda at 9:07 AM on June 1, 2017 [29 favorites]

I think overall, it's important that when people talk about Portland or Seattle as liberal enclaves, it should also be made clear that these are two of the whitest cities in the country, in line with places like Wichita KS, Fort Wayne IN, and Omaha NE.

And step 10 minutes out of down town and you are in white supremacist heaven. I moved back down to California due to serious lack of diversity plus the crazy bumper stickers, weird ass spray paint, and open-carry fascists in the supermarkets.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 9:07 AM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I cannot second what parallelines said enough. I live in Seattle - moved here from NYC - and it is the whitest goddamned city. And yes, people here are very liberal, in that nicey-nice way you can be when you never have to seriously interact with a black person, or god forbid a poor black person, because they're all safely contained south of Beacon Hill.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 9:08 AM on June 1, 2017 [6 favorites]

Portland is a lovely place that has an ugly race history and is still pretty racist. And not just because of the demographics. That NE neighborhood where all of the black people were concentrated has become probably the most quickly gentrified neighborhood I have ever seen. White people just up and took it over, with an unusual amount of no regard. When I first moved to the northeast I lived in an attic in a house on Borthwick. The guy who owned the house had bought the place in the mid 1990s and everyone told him he was nuts, as not a single white person lived on that street. He bought the house for something like $60,000. Now not a single black person lives on that street and the house is worth probably 300k.

Then I moved down to MLK and Williams - I am part of this whole problem. I would take the #6 bus to and from work and be the only white person on the bus at first. There were three black churches I could see from my bedroom window, and I would always listen to the music coming from them on Sundays. This was before the New Seasons moved in. There were lots of empty lots. Then a yoga place, a bike shop, a coffee shop, and an oyster bar opened on the strip on Williams. Then New Seasons came. Some developers tore down some old houses and built a new apartment complex on the land and one morning I woke up at 3 am and saw the whole thing burning down from my window - a fire I learned later that day was undoubtedly intentional. Not the best way to fight back but understandable. In just a couple years from that point, every empty lot became an enormous condo complex. The park where black people would hang out and picnic was redone and is now a white park. This all happened within like 5 or 6 years. Where did the black people go? No one knows, no one cares.

I would, like all the other young, white, liberal artsy types who moved to portland, give lip service to how unfortunate the situation was, how horrible all this gentrification was, how the city didn't care, how we needed more democrats in office to fix this situation, how we should have more occupy movements or whatever. But of course, we were the problem all along, us, carrying on the long tradition of taking even the last enclaves black people have while patting ourselves on the back for at least feeling bad about it and voting for Obama. I am guilty of this and ashamed of it.

Portland certainly has a veneer of liberalism, particularly the sort of liberalism that provides more freedoms to young white people. It's liberal if you want smoke weed legally and by poly and be "accepted" or whatever and hike naked and drink craft beer with strippers. And all of those things are great. I love those things. But if you look at the actual systems in the city and how government works to help and/or protect the most vulnerable, particularly minorities, particularly black people, the same systemic racism evident in many other parts of the country is deeply embedded.

I fucking loved living in portland. I still fucking love portland. It's my favorite city in the world. But it has a big ugly history of racism that is still manifest, perhaps in a more insidious form, because it's built this reputation of super leftness by being left in the easy ways without facing a lot of its own actual demons and doing a lot of the hard work that would make it a truly progressive place.

Of course, not all the white liberal people there are too afraid or too lazy to do the hard things. Two people lost their lives in a horrific way last week doing something brave and difficult, and that is remarkable and should be recognized.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:18 AM on June 1, 2017 [39 favorites]

Everyone likes to talk up black block and May Day protestors in Seattle, but the fact of the matter is there hasn't been any significant trouble here since the WTO. Closest we got was the Milo thing where some Nazis decided to start shit so they would have an excuse to shoot someone.

Eh? There's been a fair amount of random stuff since WTO, including the May Day stuff a few years ago that included quite a few smashed windows and weird shit like Phoenix Jones pepper spraying vandals at (I believe) the Federal Building. I was observing the May Day march and was standing under one of the windows and looked up just in time to see a small sledge hammer flying through the air at the windows.

Occupy was no picnic, either. Sure, throwing a bunch of peoples tents, a street kitchen and a library in the dumpster isn't as front page friendly as teargas and smashed windows, but there was a lot of really fucked up stuff that happened during Occupy on both sides of the skirmish line.

And the Niketown windows alone have probably been smashed a dozen time since then.

On the subject of racism in the PNW, it's shocking how racist and effectively segregated it actually is, and it's equally shocking how many white progressives/liberals don't even actually face the issue, even while giving weird verbalized lip service about it.

I have a hard time describing it or putting it into suitable words, but one of the things I've noticed about Seattle is that white and black culture and communities rarely overlap or mix. Like, when I've gone into black-owned restaurants and businesses in the CD I get a lot of tension, like they're totally not used to someone white actually wanting to eat Ethiopian, or BBQ, or catfish, and the PoC I've met and talked to in Seattle have pointed out that they're basically ignored or invisible and white people basically never talk to them or even attempt to interact. Like, I never got that vibe in LA even when I went out for soul food or chicken and waffles.

Hell, I didn't even get that much tension when I went to a black barbershop to get my head shaved. Sure, I got some good natured ribbing about it but they were ultimately comfortable with me being there. It's not like the palpable fear or worry I felt in Seattle, even though I'm just want to get some damn good ribs or something.

The effects of redlining are alive and well in the Seattle metro area even if the laws are long gone, and now even the Central District is being rapidly gentrified so what little black culture that's left in the CD is getting pushed out, mainly to the south in Rainier Beach, Beacon Hill and Kent.

And I'm saying this as someone who grew up not just in LA, but in Orange County which was basically founded under racist fears and the white flight from LA after the Watts riots. OC is also home to a hell of a lot of actual neo-nazis.

While LA itself has a ton of racial problems - it's definitely not like Seattle where it just feels like there's this quiet, tense, unspoken/unspeakable and assumed/presumed racism everywhere. It's incredibly tense and nebulous and difficult to really define because it seems to be so normalized, systemic and pervasive.

An example I can provide is that you'll see PoC in higher income jobs and housing and more mixed neighborhoods in LA. In Seattle - in Belltown in particular - I never saw that. Everyone of color lived in the few low income buildings that are left. The nice new condos and "luxury" apartments seemed to be entirely inhabited by white, Indian or Asian tech/amazon workers. I think I've seen or met maybe two coders/STEM workers that were black in total after 5+ years there and dozens of random beer-and-code style meetups.
posted by loquacious at 9:19 AM on June 1, 2017 [12 favorites]

I grew up in LA and moved to Seattle 13 years ago. Life takes me to Portland maybe twice a year. And... yeah, both these cities are white as fuck. And tons of self-congratulations about not being racist when, y'know, life makes that so easy for people to say.

Seattle is really segregated, too. My neighborhood on the north end isn't quite so bad, probably by virtue of my living three blocks from Idris Mosque (oldest traditionally built mosque west of the Mississippi). But even that doesn't account for much. As a substitute teacher, though, I really see it in the high schools. North of the ship canal is overwhelmingly white. You don't see real diversity until you go south of the canal. And there are a couple of schools here where you can look at the makeup of different classrooms and honestly wonder if anyone ever heard of Brown v Board of Education.

But the thing about Portland... I'm honestly surprised when I hear Portland is more segregated, because when I go down there it feels like people of color are more visible.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:27 AM on June 1, 2017 [6 favorites]

I point out the documentary Local Color every time I can. It's an 18 year old documentary covering bits of Portland history that a lot of people still don't know about.

In other news, I live within the old pale of settlement in northeast Portland. Maybe there's not official redlining anymore, but as the older black folks move out, it's always young white folks moving in (myself among them). An Aussie journalist who moved here a few years back was baffled about why everything seemed so normal but so strange, until she went past 82nd and found where all the minorities were hiding (Ruth Brown at the Willamette Week, whose search interface is too awful to find said article)
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 9:40 AM on June 1, 2017

I'm honestly surprised when I hear Portland is more segregated, because when I go down there it feels like people of color are more visible.

That might be a function of where you're hanging out and the fact that Portland is a pretty small geographical city? I would venture a guess that's mostly because NE Portland was (after Vanport) the local enclave of African Americans; it is now a hipster Disneyland and that population has been slowly moved out. If you hang out there at all (its a place many people come to 'experience portland', you get this weird veneer of multiculturalism and integration, but the reason why is because white folks moved in droves to live there, very recently. Black folks still live there, just not nearly in the numbers they historically have. The Oregonian also looked at the phenomenon of African Americans actually commuting into those historically Black districts just to get shit done, even though they live mostly in east Portland. So they might feel more visible, but are actually part of a little mini gentrification diaspora within city limits.

I've been trying to find anything like a zip code-level-or-better population breakdown, but it doesn't seem like one is available. It would help illustrate some of this.
posted by furnace.heart at 9:41 AM on June 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

Still pissed skinhead ended up getting co-opted to mean Neo-Nazi racist scumhosers. I get a lot of weird looks when I slip and mention I used to be a skinhead. (NOT THE SLEAZE TYPE!)
posted by Samizdata at 9:44 AM on June 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

All of the points being made about the overwhelming whiteness here in Portland and the state's blatantly racist history are absolutely true. At the same time, there are several school districts -- our son is in one -- where non-whites make up two-thirds of the population, and many of the students come from immigrant families (and yes, we're east of 82nd Avenue). The conversations about race and equity do happen here, and if anything gives me a little hope, it's that our kids will be better at discussing these issues than many of their parents have been.
posted by vverse23 at 9:48 AM on June 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

furnace.heart, it's not just people commuting in to work. There's no parking for blocks around all the historically black churches in our neighborhood, because almost nobody lives in the neighborhood anymore.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 9:48 AM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

vverse23: which district? I didn't realize how diverse Parkrose was at the time, but a teacher friend of mine was amazed to hear that very whitebread me was a graduate of the same school district that gave the city Poison Waters.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 9:54 AM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seattle and Portland and the NW in general are damned white, and in suburban/rural areas I don't know what's beyond damned white, but there it is. It's been a long time now, but I graduated from high school on the eastside of Seattle in the mid-1980s. Out of a senior class of about 450 kids, we had one black student. Things might be a bit better now, but I'm guessing not much. In my time at Microsoft in the early-mid 1990s, I had exactly one black co-worker.

Even if our small communities were friendly to people of color (and they're generally not, we've got a fuckstick who drives around out here on the "liberal" end of Whidbey* Island with a gigantic Trump flag on a stick on the back of his pickup; on a road trip I took around the state a couple of summers ago I was astonished at how many "stars and bars", flag of the proud racist, I saw, in damn Washington), I cannot imagine how fucking weird it must be to be the only such person or family in the area.

In a sad LOL, Firefox spellchecker suggests "Whitey" for "Whidbey", very, very accurate, alas.
posted by maxwelton at 9:57 AM on June 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

ivan ivanych samovar: We are also in Parkrose. I didn't know Poison Waters was from here!
posted by vverse23 at 9:57 AM on June 1, 2017

Many of the schools even east of 52nd are much more diverse than the core. The three closest schools to us out in Felony Flats are all white-minority schools.

The demographic of people who have children, and those who do not are much more extreme than the overall populations in Portland. Here's the breakdown of every school in PPS and it's student population. Ethnic breakdowns are on the first page of each.

TLDR; Rich white folks don't have that many kids.

So yeah, maybe this will get better in a couple more decades? At least our kids will, hopefully, be more tolerant in general?
posted by furnace.heart at 9:59 AM on June 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

As long as our kids' tolerance extends to fixing the structural inequalities in Portland, especially regarding the near-total neglect of East Portland? Sure. It could happen.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 10:03 AM on June 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

Uh, how many private schools do you guys have, and what's their racial breakdown? Fewer rich white kids in public schools doesn't necessarily mean fewer rich white kids (says the guy who lives in Tennessee).
posted by Huffy Puffy at 10:05 AM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

And let we think that it's only the deep south and Oregon with a race problem:

Our ugly racism’s newest artifact: The noose left at the African American Museum

WaPo reports that this is the second noose left on the National Mall this week (the first was left hanging outside the Hirschorn).
posted by Westringia F. at 10:07 AM on June 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

Huffy Puffy, the public schools are in general majority white. Even the aforementioned Parkrose is still (barely) majority white. There are a handful of private schools, mostly parochial, siphoning off a handful of kids from the tricounty area.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 10:10 AM on June 1, 2017

Yeah, there aren't nearly as many private schools here. But the ones that reside in really rich hoods, are very, very white. Total school district breakdown has white students at 55%. As soon as you get past the core of the city, most schools are white-minority.

The point I was trying to make is that the school population breakdown does not track with the population breakdown of the whole city. Not even close.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:17 AM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

My goal in doing this research was to capture the nuance, and I think it's important not to oversimplify the situation in Oregon.

"It's racist AF" or "founded as a white utopian paradise" are wild exaggerations with little or no evidence behind them. Boston and Philadelphia, to pick two Northern liberal cities I know, have more general racism than Portland. Look up the South Boston busing issue or read the comments on sports blog Crossing Broad some time if you want a peek. When I was covering the Eagles, discussions of Mike Vick vs. Nick Foles as quarterback were full of racially-driven anger.

Portland (and Seattle) are very white for a lot of reasons. The Exclusion Laws were part of it but were never really enforced. They seem to come primarily out of a desire to avoid the whole slavery issue that was building to a civil war at the time Oregon was founded (1859). Indiana passed a constitutional amendment banning Black immigration before Oregon did; Ohio put prohibitive requirements on it as early as 1807; so did Illinois. Neighboring Nevada, and Arizona, had actual slavery until the 13th Amendment was passed.

One big reason there are so few African Americans in the Northwest (including Alaska) is precisely because there never was slavery here, and it's physically distant from states that did. Oregon, furthermore, never had a big manufacturer with lots of jobs (like Boeing) and has never had a military base, two of the biggest reasons for African American migration to Seattle. When the Kaiser Shipyards opened in WW2, the Black population rose tenfold.
posted by msalt at 10:18 AM on June 1, 2017 [8 favorites]

Portland (and Seattle) are very white for a lot of reasons. The Exclusion Laws were part of it but were never really enforced.

Laws that say people aren't allowed to live somewhere have a tendency to make people not want to live there regardless of whether they're enforced. Funny thing, that.

These #notalloregonians arguments are getting really tiresome. Yes, other places were pretty shitty. Yes, other places remain pretty shitty. But saying this as a defense is rather less persuasive than you seem to think it is.
posted by Etrigan at 10:25 AM on June 1, 2017 [18 favorites]

Meh. Every April wherever I work near downtown I get the fire warning that May 1st is going to be chaos and then basically nothing happens until evening when a group of straggler idiots break a window. On the scale of "something" to "nothing" it is pretty much nothing.
posted by Artw at 10:26 AM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

> or read the comments on sports blog Crossing Broad some time

You've got to be joking. You're extrapolating from an entire city of 1.5 million and a metro area of 6 million based on the cesspool of unmoderated comments on a shitty sports blog?

Lived experience is valuable -- by all means cite that -- but this reads more like an effort to downplay racism in one city by citing the existence of racism in others. We don't have to come up with an authoritative ranking of cities from most to least racist in order to intelligently discuss the problems, and if we were, we certainly wouldn't do so by reading online comments.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:33 AM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

> Indiana passed a constitutional amendment banning Black immigration before Oregon did; Ohio put prohibitive requirements on it as early as 1807; so did Illinois.

Yes, and Oregon was settled by a whole lot of people from those states, who brought their laws and social conventions with them.

There is no state in the union where the issue of race should be oversimplified, and Oregon is not special or less racist for this, nor because other places are also racist and have racist histories. Portland's racist history and present is not less terrible or difficult just because Boston and Philadelphia and [practically everywhere else] also have terrible and difficult histories.
posted by rtha at 10:48 AM on June 1, 2017 [9 favorites]

Working in activism in Portland was also frustrating because there was so, so much lip service without actual pro-active work. Part of it's institutional (PPB literally had neo-nazi police lieutenants in it), part of it is the weird way that Oregon is a purple state.... you have legislators like Dembrow who sort of half-fight for reform.
I learned this all the hard way canvassing and working with African-American activists like Woodrow Broadnax and Cameron Whitten. Basically the folks of NE Alberta are like a lot of other African-Americans dealing with democrats- used to white liberals promising everything and doing nothing.

But speaking from my experience in the Portland music scene, The Green Room was all too plausible. You get out to Gresham, Hillsboro, Oregon City, things get scary.

The other thing about this 'surprising/not surprising' 'what about Portlandia'- you have to understand, that Portland's economic model is based around attracting and shucking wealthy young hipsters of their wealth. The dark actual history of Portland is concealed underneath a facade of artisanal craft beers and food trucks. Actually tackling issues of race is uncomfortable work- it's far easier to protest white girls running a burrito truck than it is to force the PPB to change for the better.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 10:52 AM on June 1, 2017 [17 favorites]

Yes, and Oregon was settled by a whole lot of people from those states, who brought their laws and social conventions with them.

Good point, and that's an excellent source you cite, too. Thanks.

It also discusses one of the least-discussed yet most common causes of housing segregation-- the exclusionary covenants imposed on many suburban housing developments and suburbs in the 1940s and 1950s. This was literally imposed by the federal government nationwide, as detailed in a 35:00 story on Fresh Air a month ago (based on Richard Rothstein's book "The Color of Law").
posted by msalt at 11:14 AM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

When I first moved out here, to Oregon and then to Portland, occasionally I'd hear people say, "no one is racist here." And I'd laugh and say, because there's no black people!

It's amusing to note that this applies to the Other Portland as well. I recall a thread on the /r/Maine subreddit where a black guy was thinking of moving up for a job and was asking around about, among other things, how racist people are in Maine.

And, of course, you got a ton of folks chiming in with, "I never see racism at all up here, it's so great, you'll be fine!" When, like, it's a 95% white state, and Reddit itself is majority white on top of that. Of course they don't see any racism.

That kind of solipsistic attitude white people have seems to me like one of the biggest problems with making an honest accounting of America's problems with race, perhaps even moreso than the bullshit revisionism about the Lost Cause and how MLK solved racism with One Weird Trick. White people just don't realise that racism happens whether or not they're around to witness it -- and they're probably not around to witness it, thanks to redlining and white flight and other de facto segregation techniques.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:14 AM on June 1, 2017 [16 favorites]

Thanks for the post! Did a better job than I would have 8)

I posted this in the election thread but wanted to re-ask this here: does anyone have information about the Federal Protective Services being used in protests? Since the June 4th protest is at Terry Schrunk Plaza, which is federal property instead of city property, it was up to the Feds to revoke the permit, which they didn't do. They did say they'd send in their federal police force to patrol during the protest. From my point of view, the protest was going to be neo-Nazis vs antifa, but ever since the murders happened it really looks like everybody is going to be out there. So now it's not only antifa, but a large contingent of labor unions, along with the general populace, and it's on a Sunday when people don't have work, and it's at noon.

To me, this sounds like a particularly volatile situation. The city is definitely going to have riot cops out there, but what about the Feds? Is it going to be obvious who they are? They're allowed to arrest people warrantlessly, and be in plainclothes, and I'm slightly worried for people who are prominent local activists (Cameron Whitten, Gregory Mckelvey (who has been snatched up before), and others) being snatched up by a federal police force. So what's the deal? What can we expect out there? I'm going to be there, but I have a tendency to stick by the Willamette Week and Portland Mercury dudes when I go to protests because I'm slightly afraid of crowds and for some reason I feel safer by them (I have no idea why).

As for racism in Portland, I wanted to share something Margaret Jacobson posted recently. She's a local activist here who took over for the Women's March when some issues came up (which were probably discussed in one of those past threads):

When I tell people not to move here, it's not because I don't want more people here, it's because it's not safe. It's because it's a city that pretends, and what's beneath that facade is horrifying.

It's because when i watch people break their bodies trying to organize spaces and opportunities for POC to be safe, and watch white folks make it about themselves. I watch people change and have to leave because this city never wanted us. It still doesn't.

I just got back home last night, after being in the Bay, and everything felt different.

Because of the liberals here, Nazis think it's perfectly fine for them to be in and around Portland. The liberals are so content being quiet. Being passive. Not speaking up. Not showing up. Unless it's something that benefits them. The liberals work hard so we don't have fucking fluoride in the water, for the kids, but bus their kids out of NE Portland to attend different schools than the black and brown children. They fight hard to have plastic bags removed from grocery stores, but can't show up to protect or advocate for us. They take land and homes, and complain about those who no longer have houses.

They want to be seen as good, but they're not. I know so many white liberals in this city, and I don't trust the majority of them to ever stand up for the lives of black and brown people. Because I've watched them watch me experience Mico aggression after Mico aggression, sitting there quietly, then later apologizing that I have that experience.

Portland does have the best POC community though. Because we got each other. And anytime one of us gets out, we celebrate. This isn't normal. Don't say "gentrification happens everywhere, so does racism". It's true, but Portland is a special brand, where it's attacks us mentally, then physically. Where people look us directly in the eye as we say we are hurting and respond with "Don't be so sensitive, everyone in Portland is nice!"

Fuck your niceness. I want compassion and kindness. I want humanity.

posted by gucci mane at 11:46 AM on June 1, 2017 [22 favorites]

So this thing about one city being more racist than another based on the discourse used in comments on local news blogs... a couple of weeks ago for school I had to read some excellent scholarly work by sociologists Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and Tyrone Forman on the ways that racism is expressed, and the various semantic tricks that white people use to hide their racism. It's pretty fascinating stuff that I think applies quite well here. The PacNW is thought of as a liberal utopia, white liberals flock here to be in a "safe" space, and one of the biggest features of white liberal identity is that white liberals aren't racist... so our discourse would reflect that. Take a gander at the comments on any PacNW area news articles and see if you can identify some of the semantic tricks that Bonilla-Silva and Forman identify in their work.
posted by palomar at 11:50 AM on June 1, 2017 [21 favorites]

I forgot to add to the FPP that new alt-right celebrity "Based Stickman" -- Kyle Chapman, who broke a pole over a masked demonstrator's head in Berkeley -- is coming up to Portland to join the battle Sunday.

The Smoking Gun had an interesting backgrounder on him that notes his history of meth, vicodin and coke abuse and Scotchguard huffing, and his 3 prison terms (robbery, grand theft and gun dealing). He was released from post-parole supervision just two months before his head-bashing incident.
posted by msalt at 11:54 AM on June 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

Better yet, if you're a white liberal like me, start examining the conversations you have with your white liberal friends and families, and count how many times you and they use the same semantic tricks the college students do in that study. That might be uncomfortable (believe me, speaking from personal experience here), but do it anyway.
posted by palomar at 11:54 AM on June 1, 2017 [11 favorites]

@furnace.heart: I had no idea that Gil's Speakeasy was a haven for white supremacists. A while ago, like back in February, I was hanging out there alone waiting for a friend to get off work when a group of older men were in there talking about how stoked they were on Trump. That isn't particularly egregious, and I've seen people at Scoreboard do the same thing, but I coincidentally ended up back there that night and saw a lot of really intense bikers hanging out and partying and those men were there hamming it up with them. I have no idea if that's anything at all, and I only know about bikers here via the Gypsy Joker compound up on MLK, but it struck me as slightly weird. A friend of mine (who is black) had a pretty unpleasant experience at Kelly's Olympian recently (which has now been resolved) involving a bartender there. Do you know of any other bars to watch out for? I don't go to many bars anymore. I use to go to The Know a lot before it shut down (and I haven't been to the new one yet) but otherwise I've always stuck to where I live. I've heard Tom's on Division is dicey when it comes to racist shit, but I forget where I heard that.
posted by gucci mane at 11:57 AM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I don't know if the Speakeasy is still like that or not. I haven't lived in that in that neighborhood for several years, and don't get out to bars too much anymore. I don't know too many places to avoid, really. Before it got turned into the Havana Club, and whatever it is now, Hal's was kind of sketchy, but never overtly racist. But that was like three owners and a remodel ago.

My experience there was that a group of 9-12 guys rolled up one evening, and they were wearing shirts that had big 'security' style block lettering that said "BLACK WATCH" with celtic crosses under them. We didn't have a problem getting served until they showed up. After that it was very clear that this was 'THEIR bar' and our latinx friends were ignored by the staff from that point on. We didn't want to cave, but things started to go downhill pretty quick so we bugged out. Honestly haven't been back since. I've heard a few other stories from folks in that neighborhood around that time. If the ownership has changed, its likely that it isn't a problem anymore, but who knows.
posted by furnace.heart at 12:11 PM on June 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

Boston and Philadelphia, to pick two Northern liberal cities I know, have more general racism than Portland. Look up the South Boston busing issue

I think Boston is actually a really good comparison to make with Portland. Both are northern, very liberal cities where white culture has remained dominant compared to cities like New York or Chicago. At the time of the busing crisis, Boston was 16% black, whereas Portland was just 5% black. This difference meant that Boston was forced to face its race issues, putting a lot of hidden racism out into the open in a way that Portland never has.

Although Boston is still a notoriously racist city and the whole metro area remains heavily segregated, its black population has since risen to around 25%. Portland has completely stagnated and remains 6% black. I don't think it means a whole lot to describe Boston or Philly simply as more racist, although there may well be more incidents of racial violence and discrimination. The situation in Portland is just structurally different.
posted by parallellines at 12:15 PM on June 1, 2017 [11 favorites]

Thanks for the post msalt, I think you captured the complexity of the current problems very well.

> There is no state in the union where the issue of race should be oversimplified, and Oregon is not special or less racist for this, nor because other places are also racist and have racist histories.

Look, I live here, and everything getting said above is true. I think rtha captures the core of it very well. But here's my problem, and I think the thread hasn't seen much discussion on it. Most mefites laughed through "That's just how you negotiate with a Nazi. Ask your grandfather.", myself included. And I got to read pat comments on how this isn't a slippery slope. But here's the thing, my neighbor's kids are going to be riding that MAX line to school come September, from the very station that attack took place. And as WW just pointed out, these rallys are flashpoints for antifa and black bloc to literally punch nazis.

One of the things that comes through from the above links is that there is a history of violence, both systemic and from nonpoint sources, that has plagued Portland in regards to race and inequality for a long time. And no one seems to be really trying to deescalate the current situation very well, much less look at longer term solutions. I think Wheeler is right, and I see similarities in these rallys to the Orange Marches through catholic controlled areas in N. Ireland (on a much smaller scale and with less intensity of outrage, grief, and loss). Both sides are looking for a fight and using institutional tools to subvert the semblance of of civil society. Joey Gibson has stated plainly he's looking to be a provocateur, and antifa and black bloc are what they are, groups formed to punch nazis.

I think we need to move the conversation beyond, "Hey Nazis are feeling emboldened, let's punch them in the face." Because as Portland is demonstrating, that solution scales like shit with horrible consequences for everyone.
posted by herda05 at 12:21 PM on June 1, 2017 [10 favorites]

The last time I was in Portland, Maine, I saw some Somali men being harassed on the street by some gutter punk types. I thought that the two Portlands weren't all that different, after all.

Coming from a southern city where northern Europeans made up only about 35% of the population, I was surprised at the dedication of racist people I met in Washington and Oregon and in the Northeast where it was overwhelmingly white.
posted by Bee'sWing at 12:28 PM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

David Douglas High School, home to teenage MAX victims, rallies around students

The East Portland high school is one of the poorest and most diverse in Oregon. The school's 3,000 students speak roughly 50 different languages at home. It's the kind of school where young Muslims gather daily in the library to pray. Many came to Portland from refugee camps and war-torn countries. Others have experienced trauma, Bier said.

The 16- and 17-year-old girls need time and community support to heal, David Douglas Superintendent Ken Richardson said in a letter to the school community. But the trauma, Richardson said, is not theirs alone.

"This incident, as well as a rising tide of divisive rhetoric about immigration, race and religion, has sent ripples of fear and anxiety through our community," Richardson wrote in the letter sent to parents in English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Somali.

In a video posted this weekend, one of the girls thanked those who supported her.

"The best thing you guys can help us out with," Destinee Mangum said, "is just giving me and my family time to process everything and for me to cope with what happened and to actually heal from this and get over this somehow."

Bier said he sent an email to the school's 170 teachers explaining what happened to the two students. He told teachers to look for signs of other students who may experience anxiety or trauma in the days to come. The school's head counselor sent out a detailed email explaining what to look for, Bier said.

"I told the teachers, 'Keep doing the work that you're doing, care about kids. Don't be afraid to talk to them about their emotions and what they're feeling," Bier said. "I think actions speak louder than words, so we're working with kids harder than we ever have before."

The school brought in additional counselors to help the seven who work regular shifts.

Richardson urged families to pull together in the coming days.

"Our students and staff value and celebrate our diversity and are a true bright spot in our community," he wrote. "Please join me in not allowing this event to define who we are as a community and instead to reassure, support and love our students and your children. Not only can we teach our students about tolerance, but we can also learn from them."

posted by gucci mane at 12:33 PM on June 1, 2017 [7 favorites]

In re nazi-punching: It's a tactic, not an imperative, and "scales like shit" is exactly right. You punch nazis when that's the best tactic available to you, like when you're dealing with Dapper Fascist Richard Spencer, who was definitely derailed by the punching.

The risk is that there are a lot of people involved in this, more on the right than the left*, who like fighting because it's fun, and that's a lot of the momentum. The trouble with people who like fighting for its own sake is that the only way to stop them with violence is to beat them really badly. If you just beat them, they come back for another round. And, leaving all else aside, I don't think we have the people or the ideology or the freedom-from-cops to beat people down enough that they won't come back.

In MPLS, when I have seen Nazis run off by protest, it has mostly been because the Nazis in question weren't brawlers - they might want to come on like tough guys, but fundamentally they weren't really ready to close with people. The only time I really saw a protest go wrong, it was because the Nazis were people who liked fighting and obviously did it a lot.

Basically, if the left is facing a large group of enthusiastic, stupid young men who like punching and who are performing the whole thing for a million cameras, we probably can't win by punching. If we're facing a small group of cowards who try to act big, we can win by punching, or really by maybe a little punching but mostly by being willing to punch.

I really, really think that mass protests should be as peaceful as possible in this instance, not for moral reasons but because it's hard to win through violence in this situation. And we don't want escalation to where guns and knives are commonalities that get used, because either we fight back at that level in which case people die and our people go to jail while theirs walk, or we can't protect the bulk of protest attendees and they will be victimized.

*I've been in political situations where the left was leading the punching, but I am simply not hearing that level of enthusiasm and certainty right now. Even in the past, because people on the left tend not to want to injure people, there hasn't been that much enthusiasm for anything beyond shoving.
posted by Frowner at 12:35 PM on June 1, 2017 [19 favorites]

Well, as the antifa chant goes, "Cops Protect Nazis". The institutional power of the State is on the side of those preaching and instigating violence, actively on the streets defending them.

So, what do you do?
posted by tobascodagama at 12:42 PM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

But here's the thing, my neighbor's kids are going to be riding that MAX line to school come September, from the very station that attack took place.

Both sides are looking for a fight and using institutional tools to subvert the semblance of of civil society.

The "civil society" status quo is exactly what endangered the lives of two high school kids riding the MAX line. There are legitimate arguments against the use of violence, but don't bring in this "both sides need to deescalate" bullshit. There is only one side that is targeting people of color, including children, and killing the people standing in their way.
posted by parallellines at 12:43 PM on June 1, 2017 [26 favorites]

re: Seattle. While compared to Portland, it's "diverse", it's not diverse by any useful definition of the word, and it is certainly not integrated.

I moved here 3+ years ago, from DC, and made an intentional decision to live south of I-90 in a neighborhood that has been non-majority for decades and isn't trending very far away from that. When I did, the level of odd comments I would get from people about "oh, there" or "I wouldn't live south of I-90" was staggering. I live in a staggeringly beautiful neighborhood, surrounded by a lot of odd, but diverse, people. It would be called friendly, even, by Seattle's rather sad standards.

What Seattle is full of is "white liberals" and "white moderates", to steal MLK's thoughts. They're still not willing to actively engage with dismantling the system. But then, that is the story of America.
posted by petrilli at 12:53 PM on June 1, 2017 [12 favorites]

I think we need to move the conversation beyond, "Hey Nazis are feeling emboldened, let's punch them in the face." Because as Portland is demonstrating, that solution scales like shit with horrible consequences for everyone.

It sounds a lot like you're saying that violence is "scaling" because a couple of white people died this time. Those three did not, from all reports, so much as give the impression that they might theoretically support punching that particular Nazi in the face. They were trying to calm him down, and he stabbed them. Are you claiming that he felt more emboldened to do so because someone put a loop of Richard Spencer getting hit in the head to "Just Can't Get Enough" on Imgur?
posted by Etrigan at 1:01 PM on June 1, 2017 [10 favorites]

So, what do you do?

Not things where we lose. Maybe, right now, saying "we will beat you down if you try to march" is a losing proposition, because the right likes to fight and they like the camera time it gets them, and most of the left does not like to fight, plus the cops and the media are against us anyway.

In the moment, I'm thinking mass peaceful demonstrations that focus on drowning people out with chants (if you have 1000 and they have 100, that's easy) and mass militant demonstrations that focus on surrounding them so they can't move. It doesn't make nearly as good TV if it's not mano-a-mano, if it's "we are throwing ourselves at a wall of people with linked arms".

If you are going to have ten or twenty people for every one of theirs, the sheer numbers of people in an area can prevent them from doing much.

I'm not a "don't hit back" person on principle; I'm a "hit back when you can win by hitting, sit and take it when you win by sitting and taking it" person.

In the larger term, I feel like figuring out community solutions to the presence of white supremacists is probably possible. Can you have bar takeovers, for instance, like queer people do? Could you send two hundred people to that white supremacist bar and pack it every Friday? Can community groups organize large, public events and presence in ways that make POC safer on a day to day basis? Can you step up copwatch initiatives? Are there people and social circles where punching is going to be effective?

We are in a moment where militant white supremacists have far, far more effect than their numbers should allow, and I think that's because we've allowed the ground to become "the winner is the one who drives the other away from the protest". It's like saying "I'm a bird and he's a snake - let's have a slithering contest to show who is right!" - it doesn't prove anything except that you've chosen the wrong field.

Far more people are willing to be present at a mass anti-nazi march than are willing to show up at a pro-nazi march, but that does not translate into "far more people are willing and able to punch nazis", so we can't let the metric be "who is the best puncher".
posted by Frowner at 1:02 PM on June 1, 2017 [19 favorites]

Basically "militant" and "violent" are not the same thing, even though some militancy involves violence. If you can't win by violence, you can still win by militancy.
posted by Frowner at 1:04 PM on June 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

Hey, I skimmed the thread and didn't find an answer. Apparently the June 10th anti-Muslim are going to be happening in over a dozen cities nationwide, along with counter-protests, but I'm trying to find out WHERE. Can anyone help? without linking to the white supremacist sites themselves.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 1:09 PM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sole survivor of @trimet stabbings to world: "I'm ok. Send money to the girls."
posted by Sophie1 at 1:31 PM on June 1, 2017 [12 favorites]

The trouble with people who like fighting for its own sake is that the only way to stop them with violence is to beat them really badly.

Yeah. This is - I haven't been talking about it on Metafilter because it's heartbreaking and sad and makes me angry all the time when I talk about it, and I melt into a pile of rage and the need to vomit, but there's a lot of people on the right who are so psyched up to fight antifa for stupid fucking reasons and it's making the world worse and I'm really struggling not to hate them for it. People I know, even. People who are really fucking good at fighting. Like, the first sergeant with a goddamned bronze motherfucking star who supported me when I first started doing activism work is now doing Youtube videos taunting antifa and daring them to hit him. I don't know how they did it, but somehow the goddamned Nazis actually managed to convince people that they are harmlessly carrying the American Banner Of Free Speech and antifa are the violent thugs trying to Destroy America. They are rolling out to protect Nazis. Fucking Nazis. I can't wrap my head around it. But they're not going to go out just because they get punched. But at the same time you can't let it go unanswered so what the fuck do you do?
posted by corb at 1:32 PM on June 1, 2017 [18 favorites]

It's nice to have the different worldview, because I no shit for real can't imagine anybody I know ever doing anything like that, corb.
posted by Yowser at 1:36 PM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sorry, before my comment gets misconstrued, I wasn't meaning to indicate an equivalence between neo-nazis and bystanders who stand up to racists. I do standby that antifa and black bloc DO need to deescalate though.

What threatened those kids wasn't some philosophical "civil society status quo", it was a racist ahole. The philosophy and system lay the groundwork, but the actions are individual.

Look Joey Gibson and the neo-nazis are targeting PNW and NorCal cities to provoke exactly what's happening, and in doing so promulgating a cycle of violence that has existed from before I was in this city. The fact that they know there are groups here are willing to get in a brawl in the downtown of this city is part of the problem, not part of the solution. So yeah, I'm saying antifa and black bloc need to deescalate.

Effort needs to be put into solving the issue of Jeremey Christians of the world, not in brawling in the streets.

>It sounds a lot like you're saying that violence is "scaling" because a couple of white people died this time.

This is a pretty uncharitable reading of my comment. Violence is scaling because we have people on both sides willing to do violent things in service to their ideologies and a failure of the political and governmental institutions to do the hard work of solving the current situation as well as deal with the longterm institutional problems.
posted by herda05 at 1:37 PM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

parallellines: Although Boston is still a notoriously racist city and the whole metro area remains heavily segregated, its black population has since risen to around 25%. Portland has completely stagnated and remains 6% black. I don't think it means a whole lot to describe Boston or Philly simply as more racist, although there may well be more incidents of racial violence and discrimination. The situation in Portland is just structurally different.

I agree, and it's interesting to try to figure out what's going on. You note that Boston's Black population has risen 50% since "the busing days" (1970? 1974?) which is obviously atypical. One thing is that you're looking at the city only. Boston's metro Black population is only 7.4%. Portland metro Black population remains small (2.7%) but grew 20% just from 2000 to 2012, reflecting the move out of NE Portland to suburbs.

This 2014 study of Boston's racial groups reflects some disturbing trends. 2/3rs of whites live alone or in "non-family households" (ie roommates); 59% are never married. 34% earn over $100,000 a year. Almost half are 18-34. 25% are in college or grad school. In contrast, the city has rapidly growing Latino and Asian populations, many of whom are foreign born and "self-identify as speaking English 'not well' or 'not at all'." 62% of Blacks live in family households but only 18.4% have college degrees or better.

It looks a lot like a classic white flight situation; Boston is now majority minority and whites only live there to go to school or earn money downtown while young and single, before leaving for the suburbs to start families. Portland is characterized by the opposite; whites moving back into the city and suburbs getting increasingly diverse.
posted by msalt at 1:41 PM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

To be clear, my point in bringing up the fact that cops are protecting Nazis is not to suggest something like "If only your big brother wasn't here, I'd kick your ass!"

Rather: Would the Nazis still show up if they couldn't rely on police protection? Or, at least, would as many of them show up?

Why is the city granting them permits for their hate rallies? Why are the police granting them protection?

There's a really obvious way to tone things down, at least on the level of mass confrontations, and that's for our elected officials to withdraw their sanction for these events.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:42 PM on June 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

You can't tip a Buick had an excellent comment on the issue of fighting back in the Trump megathread. Normally I wouldn't repost something this long but I think it's important in this case. See you Sunday.
So I'm going to propose a sensible moderate line on the "bash the fucking fash v. don't fucking do this" debate:

If your role is to bash the fucking fash, you already know what you're doing on the 4th. You've been in major mass confrontations with police and/or nazis before. You've maybe beat the shit out of some nazi skins at punk or metal shows. You know who your comrades are and what your plan of action is. You have likely trained together with other antifa.

If this describes you, god bless you and I wish you good luck. Bash the fuckers good.

If this doesn't describe you, DO NOT FUCKING DO THIS. Please go to the demo, because when antifa+civilians well outnumbers cops+nazis, the good guys hold the city and the cops and nazis go home demoralized. But please don't bring your kids, not unless they're old enough and mature enough to understand and consent to what they're getting into. And be prepared to get the hell out if the ratio of civilians+antifa to nazis+cops isn't well on your side. And for the love of god do not get separated from the main mass of civilians — the closer you are to alone, the more likely the cops are to fuck with you. but DO NOT BASH THE FASH. That is not your job. Your job is to add bulk to the civilian mass, and thereby make the cops hesitate to attack.

If you're white, and especially if you're white and look like tech money, or any other sort of money, you have a responsibility to go. You lend credibility to the civilian group and you're less likely to get attacked by police. And you are safe, provided you keep your wits about you, because when things get too hairy / the police start arranging a kettle, you can slip out and, like magic, suddenly the cops treat you as a bystander instead of as the enemy.

But don't bash any fucking fash unless you've trained for it.

The best case scenario for these fascist-and-police engineered confrontations goes something like what happened when Berkeley stopped the Milo event. Enough civilians show up to keep the police from wilding, enough antifa show up to control the space, scare the nazis, and throw an orderly, controlled riot, and then subsequently the authorities are loathe to permit future nazi events.

If it doesn't look like this is how it's going to happen, GET. OUT.
posted by msalt at 1:53 PM on June 1, 2017 [15 favorites]

So yeah, I'm saying antifa and black bloc need to deescalate.

I feel like I'm missing something with all the concern about antifa and black bloc. As far as I'm aware, they typically show up to protests, cause a little vandalism and a few fist fights, but not much beyond that. I'm personally more on the non-violent protest side of things and don't necessarily support everything they do, but don't really see them as a problem. But there are a couple people in this thread who seem genuinely concerned about an escalating level of violence. Where is that coming from?
posted by parallellines at 1:58 PM on June 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

One thing is that you're looking at the city only. Boston's metro Black population is only 7.4%. Portland metro Black population remains small (2.7%) but grew 20% just from 2000 to 2012, reflecting the move out of NE Portland to suburbs.

Yeah, I grew up in the Boston suburbs, and they are shockingly white (~95% in places). White flight after busing began in the city was/is definitely a big thing there. But from your link, the black population in the metro area still rose from 4.3% - 7.4% over the 1980-2010 span. In the Portland metro area, the black population went from 2.5% - 2.7%. That's an insignificant change, and I don't think the lack of progress can be attributed to white flight in Boston vs. city-dwelling whites in Portland.
posted by parallellines at 2:15 PM on June 1, 2017

But there are a couple people in this thread who seem genuinely concerned about an escalating level of violence. Where is that coming from?

I don't know about other places in the country, but in PDX things have gotten a bit more violent than normal, WWeek coverage here gives a good outline of the increase in violence at these types of protests.

I mean, Portland's always had crazy protests though. We apparently need to keep our rep.
posted by furnace.heart at 2:18 PM on June 1, 2017

I think my concerns about "raise the cost to the city of permitting nazi events by physically fighting the fascists" are twofold, or maybe threefold:

1. Every video of a big slugfest is a recruiting video for neo-nazis, because lots of young white dudes love to brawl. It looks exciting. The planning and coordinating are attractive. The opportunity to work as a violent team is attractive.

I am an anarchist, my street fighting years are behind me now and weren't really that exciting, but I am here to tell you that if you are the least bit punchy, the thought of getting to throw down is attractive. There were a couple of years in there where I looked forward to the post-WTO opportunity to mix it up with the cops. It disturbed me even at the time to have this response, yeah, but I had it. And I"m basically someone who doesn't want to hurt people and something of a physical coward.

You don't need a permitted event for there to be space for nazi brawling. Pressuring the city not to authorize marches is good, but that's not actually going to stop pumped up young men from attacking people ad hoc. So IMO, the more glamorous the fighting gets, the more there's a likelihood of violence that doesn't happen at a march.

2. The city will use a crackdown on nazis to crack down on the left. They always do. If they start denying a lot of permits to nazis, they'll deny them twice as fast to the left. Raising the cost of nazi demos will be used to justify shutting down everything else.

3. What if it doesn't work? What if we bring our bodies and they bring sticks and knives? What if everyone brings guns and there's shooting? I would bet good, solid money that people on both sides are carrying guns at these things now, and I do not like that one bit. What if what happens is that there's some apocalyptic confrontation and people die?

A few years ago, when it was all punching and the political climate was different, this would not be my answer. I think the nazis are just itching to have an excuse to start shooting or crushing people with their cars, and I think that we should be cautious about giving one to them. If this were five years ago, we might think "ah, if there are serious injuries this will be a wake-up call, also Obama will be approximately on our side". That's not the case now. Bannon and Sessions are in the White House - open white supremacists are in the White House.

I think that if something really apocalyptic happens at one of these rallies, it will be a crystallizing and rallying moment for the right, and it will make everything - everything - worse and more dangerous. Remember that there are historical inflection points - there are moments of fascist violence that change things. It's not just that people are exactly as racist and shitty now as they'll be if there's some kind of big nazi shooting - if there's a big nazi shooting, every one of these little white boys will want to be a shooter too.

Look, here's a thing - the story of how I did not start a riot. Years ago, during the run-up to the second Iraq war, some flack for the Bush administration had been touring in support of it. He had been shouted down and driven off stage at a university somewhere, and he was speaking at a conservative breakfast here at the UMN. A crowd gathered outside and we were permitted into the building. I was standing in the front row of the crowd, right by a table full of muffins. The guy started speaking, people started booing. I really, really wanted to throw a muffin at him - they were just the right size and weight. And I knew, from the feel of the room, that if I threw one, it would be permission for everyone to throw one, and probably tip over the tables. We all wanted to escalate, but none of us gave each other permission.

Now, it sounds like a muffin riot would have been super cool, right? But I know a couple of people who had legal trouble for years due to - I kid you not - throwing food at right wing political figures. And I know that if we'd rioted, the campus left would have had huge, huge trouble from the administration. I made the right call.

But my point is - we give each other permission, and we don't want the armed right giving it to each other. There aren't very many examples of left paramilitaries beating right ones, and even the few there are (IWWs, not paramilitaries per se, are who I think of) did not take place on camera. The internet changes things here, and we have to box a bit clever.
posted by Frowner at 2:18 PM on June 1, 2017 [29 favorites]

I will say right out that I know people who throw down at these things, I have been to a number of militant anti-nazi demos, I've seen them succeed and I've seen them fail, and right now I am scared of the next stages. Things are escalating, and I am not kidding about the possibility that there are a lot more guns present at these things than you think. I really implore people to consider this, not because I don't want people to go to these protests, not because I think everything is just aces the way it is, but because I think that we will lose.

I also ask everyone to consider very carefully whether punching a nazi in front of a thousand video cameras is actually going to reduce nazi violence on the street at this historical moment. There is a big difference between "today is the big punch-up, let's go meet on the battlefield in front of the cameras" and "let's be ready to intervene, even at personal risk, when we see neo-nazis harassing people on the street".

I feel like this whole thing is becoming reified into a dangerous performance, and we're losing focus on preventing on-street violence and catching and punishing people like the white supremacist who ran over and killed the young Native guy.

Again, I'm not saying "don't do it", I'm saying "be really sure that what you do achieves what you want", because I think we're getting into territory where we don't have many more chances. (And I am specifically saying "let's meet these nazis with mass protests", not "let's all stay home".)
posted by Frowner at 2:29 PM on June 1, 2017 [28 favorites]

1. Every video of a big slugfest is a recruiting video for neo-nazis, because lots of young white dudes love to brawl. It looks exciting.

Really I wish I could favorite every line of what Frowner is saying a million times - it's all solid and thoughtful and I have nothing better I could possibly contribute except that this particular note deserves to be elevated and amplified a lot. We are only now really beginning to see what it does to people to have real time video of these confrontations, combined with celeb-obsessed culture, combined with social media, but it isn't good.

You already have a lot of young, disaffected white men who have shown they give zero fucks about burning the country down if it gives them a way to express their feelings of disenfranchisement. (NB: I say feelings). They feel alone, wanting to belong to part of something. And here there are these people's moments, immortalized on video forever. They see the individuals in question be feted, listened to, heard. They think, "this is how I get power".

Again, I don't know what the answer here is, and I dearly wish I did, because this is so damn horrible and awful. I am ready to fight Nazis and get fought by Nazis if it did a lick of good, but I'm just not sure it does right now at these big protests. I'll stand up for anyone being bullied, I'll bring medical equipment, I'm not afraid to throw a punch, but I am afraid of them using that punch to recruit people. I'm afraid of what someone - maybe even Frowner, elsewhere - talked about: how in pre-WWII times, the people saw the brownshirts brawling with the anarchists and communists, and just wanted all the violence in the street to be over and put it all in the same mental bag. I'm afraid of us losing.
posted by corb at 2:44 PM on June 1, 2017 [11 favorites]

I feel like I'm missing something with all the concern about antifa and black bloc. As far as I'm aware, they typically show up to protests, cause a little vandalism and a few fist fights, but not much beyond that.

I would distinguish between Antifa and black bloc, though the right always wants to conflate them. Antifa are often former punk rockers who have fought neo-nazis for years.

black bloc accomplish nothing except alienating the general public from the left, and justifying police repression. Fuck those guys, seriously. I wouldn't be surprised if half of them were paid agents provocateur. They're doing stuff like vandalizing public bike stations because "they're corporate" because Nike subsidizes them. Really? Fighting against bikes?
posted by msalt at 2:53 PM on June 1, 2017 [10 favorites]

I am really loathe to get into yet another litigation of whether or not it's worth it to fight literal Nazis, an argument that would be unthinkable to have in my grandfather's time, but I will say that, if you want to take part in shutting this event down but are doubtful about your ability or willingness to use physical force, there are numerous forms of disruption and shutting events down that do not necessarily involve getting in a fist fight. I have seen folks use smoke screens, various forms of overpowering noise, disruption of power supplies, erecting giant black curtains around the event to block their visual, vandalism of PAs, and so forth. Let you imagination run wild.

And if you're not up for that sorta thing, you can also engage in harm reduction: you can be a medic for injured parties, you can remain on the periphery and warn the vulnerable who might be blithely stumbling in to keep their distance, you can assist in communication and coordination.

Any attempt to organize people behind "let's round up and deport or kill millions of people" must absolutely be shut down, but shutting it down does not necessarily mean you need to get in a physical confrontation or destruction of property, if you're not up for that. Everyone has their part to play, and all these parts can help fight fascism.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 2:56 PM on June 1, 2017 [9 favorites]

I just think that people need to be smart - "must absolutely be shut down" is great, but being sure you can shut things down is even better. The story is too long to recount here, but one thing I'm truly ashamed of is an anti-nazi protest that went wrong about six years ago. It was one where people did not plan, were not prepared for the nature of the opposition and made things worse in that town, in specific for organizers who had brought their people on board. People talked a lot of big talk and then fucked it up. The situation would have been better for the actual people living in that town if we had left it the fuck alone.

I like the ideas of using numbers, noise, sabotage, smoke, etc, because those require cleverness, and the opposition isn't clever, so they have to play on our field.
posted by Frowner at 3:07 PM on June 1, 2017 [18 favorites]

I just think that people need to be smart - "must absolutely be shut down" is great, but being sure you can shut things down is even better.

Couldn't agree more. While I admire the gumption of younger anarchists who want to dive in headfirst, being organized is absolutely the best strategy. You can't anticipate the numbers or arsenal of the opposition, but you can control everything else. Getting together and working out a delegated plan is essential. And for gods sakes don't do it in a Facebook group.

I like the ideas of using numbers, noise, sabotage, smoke, etc, because those require cleverness, and the opposition isn't clever, so they have to play on our field.

My main reasons for pointing these strategies out is I fully respect my pacifist comrades, first of all, and dividing the fronts of the opposition makes them crumble pretty quickly, too.

Ultimately, taking part in shutting down a genocidal organizing event does not necessarily have to mean you have to take on Based Stickmen mano a mano. Take a page from the CIA's playbook when it comes to shutting down mass events like this. And if you can't or won't do that, you can definitely take part in helping the injured and reducing harm to innocents.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 3:14 PM on June 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

People are just kind of... off, there.

Clearly people are pretty fucked up wherever you're from, because it's pretty fucken shitty to say shit like this in a thread full of Portlanders. So, wherever you're from/live/like, Automocar, that place is the worst place.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:47 PM on June 1, 2017 [7 favorites]

The idea of using psychological and information warfare against neo-Nazis is interesting to me, and I am not even sure where to start. A lot of antifa groups post and publish information about specific far-right organizers, such as KKK members and people like Based Stickman (Kyle Chapman) but it never seems to do a whole lot of good, whereas their people will go and dox a ton of people and it ends up with them being harassed and their lives threatened (see: Milo doxing a trans*-person, or wanting to display the information of undocumented students at Berkley while simultaneously livestreaming it on Breitbart). And it doesn't always seem clear that there is even an "organization" to take down like the old white supremacists and militia groups of the 80's and 90's. It's literally a decentralized group of people who are unified together by their white identity, who are capable of using other peoples' identity against them. The "left"'s varying degrees of identity is consistently a weapon against them by default, e.g. being "undocumented" makes you worthy of being publicly harassed and humiliated, or being trans, or whatever it is, whereas white supremacists are just people with repugnant views and nothing more. So where does one even start?

Unlike Frowner, my experience fighting neo-Nazis has literally been small group-on-group encounters in drunken party situations, NOT at rallies, and that was years ago, when I was younger and when a lot of stuff like this wasn't happening so much in the open at the time. It now really feels like a full-blown war, and I don't know if that's what it felt like when Frowner was doing the stuff they were doing, but I am interested in alternatives to fighting, it just seems like there needs to be a brand new playbook drawn up. Going after bank accounts and other legal options like in the past doesn't seem like it could work these days. Likewise, as noted many times whenever Portland and racism is mentioned, there's always been a strong current of racism here, and we don't know where these people are, but the common white supremacist is more public about it now. Are they part of a group? Is there a low-key organization putting this stuff together? Patriot Prayer, who is putting on this rally on Sunday, is literally a Facebook group and that's it. There's not much of an organizational structure to be gleamed from that besides the ability for Patriot Prayer to be able to put out a message to a lot of people and to make events.
posted by gucci mane at 4:06 PM on June 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

> It's been a long time now, but I graduated from high school on the eastside of Seattle in the mid-1980s. Out of a senior class of about 450 kids, we had one black student. Things might be a bit better now, but I'm guessing not much

It's changed a whole lot. I live in a suburb of Seattle, too, and my kids' schools are majority minority.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:22 PM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm going to offer a counter-narrative to some things people keep saying, but I want to make sure it's understood that this was my sole observation of things at a particular place and time. Sadly, it seems that it was no where near universal, and that a lot of the way people see groups like 'antifa' and 'black bloc' are very much colored by their individual experience (or lack there of) with those kinds of groups or activities, or how they end up portrayed in the media.

I really hate the way a lot of people view 'black bloc' now. I want to tell you about what 'black bloc' meant to me and what I have observed.

When I lived in Richmond, VA, I used to hang out with the punks and goths and the Sharps (Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice). There were a few times where a venue would book something stupid like a Nazi band, and all the proud white neo-nazi's would show up with their crews and try to start shit with anyone and everyone. There would always be a scuffle, some heads would get kicked, lots of cuts and scrapes, a broken bone or two, but it was almost always pretty much limited to those times and places. Then there was a huge kerfluffle over the Arthur Ashe monument being put on on Monument Avenue. There were a lot of proud boys who would go to the Confederate rallies just to be there to bash the heads of any of the protesters. What was interesting at the time, was there was not really a formal antifa block. It was just hardcore, punks, sharps, etc ,and they'd all hang out together anyway, so they'd be there and stand between the marchers and police and the protesters. They'd all wear black and cover their faces with bandana's. They were the "black bloc" for those events. The whole purpose was to be the ones to take the blows when the shoving started. They'd wear their leather jackets and heavy boots and thick pants to protect themselves. To be the ones who kept their friends safe from the violent thugs. They organized roving medic groups, and small groups that would pull people away from the cops when the cops tried to separate someone off and detain them. It wasn't really formally organized, but it was a bunch of "scene kids" all working together to keep each other safe.

But that was in the 90's. Then 1999 and the WTO stuff in Seattle happened. People got "famous" for being there on the front lines and going toe to toe with the cops and being filmed. Suddenly there was fame to be had and you could boast and brag about how cool you were for being all against the cops and fighting the system. And every protest after that, from the anti-war protests leading up to the second Iraq war up through Occupy became this badge you'd wear to signal to others that you were against the bad things.

But to me, that was not how any of this works. That is not how resistance against fascism, against capitalism, against violent thugs, against anything really works. Resistance is not giving them what they want. Resistance is channelling that anger and energy against the horrible things and organizing and stopping the bad things from happening. They want a reason to hit, punch, stab, beat, shoot someone. They want a reason for the cops to kettle an entire block of peaceful protesters and tear gas and mace them. They want to make us look like the Hollywood version of angry, disrespectful children, breaking windows and smashing cars.

We really need to not give them that. The "black bloc" I witnessed in Richmond was there to keep things from escalating. They were there to keep the cops from hurting people. To keep people from hurting themselves, sometimes. The modern "black bloc" that I keep seeing everyone reference now I always just see as the nihilistic F.S.U. brigade. They just want to Fuck Shit Up. They don't want to make things better (because then they wouldn't have a reason to F.S.U.). They want to be able to say to their friends "yeah, I totally threw that trash can through the Starbuck's window." Has that ever done anything other than make a mess? I'm sure it makes them feel good (I guess?), but aside from the storefront having to pay someone to fix the window, what did it do? And that's where things get weird. That's where people start seeing the similarity between the white supremacists and the new self-described 'black bloc' 'anarchists' (and yes, I put those in quotes because in talking with several groups here in Portland, most of them really do not have a fucking clue about any anarchist philosophy beyond 'no government, man,' or the function of anarchist collectives, even the ones who live in actual anarchist collectives here*).

Another related story, several years later. This dyed in the wool neo-Nazi shows up at a goth club in Charlottesville one night. He's known by everyone for who he is and what he stands for. He just loves pissing people off. He loves to fight. He literally loves it. So I engage in conversation with him, ended up just sitting and drinking Guiness most of the night, just talking. Turns out he knows a guy I used to hang out with back in D.C. The guy in D.C. was exactly the same way. But he wasn't a neo-Nazi. He just loved to fight. He "got off" on getting hurt and hurting others. He was a nihilistic F.S.U. believer. So I ask the neo-Nazi in Charlottesville "Why?" And his answer was pretty much "because America is and always has been racist, and built from the ground up to be white supremacist. He could go beat the shit out of anyone he wanted to, and as long as they weren't white, 'good upstanding' citizens, he'd get off. The cops would be on his side. They'd lie for him. The judge would side with his story because he could just say that the other party attacked him and they'd believe him. Why? Because he was white, the cops were white, the judge was white, the system was white. He'd get off, and who ever he beat up would likely go to jail. Even if he started it, because all he has to do is say they attacked him because he had a bald head." And the sad fact is, he was absolutely right. He'd been arrested a few years before and that is exactly what happened. He beat up a Mexican migrant worker, sent the guy to the hospital. And he didn't go to jail. He didn't even get probation. He was acquitted, by a jury.

That story stuck with me. Later that night he tried to provoke several of my friends to try and take a swing at him. I had to stand between him and them and push my friends back bodily to keep them from throwing a punch at him. And he just laughed. He laughed, called us pussies and got in his friends truck and rode away. Laughing. But at least in that incident, he lost. He didn't get to hurt anyone. He didn't get to use the system to escape justice. But all of us in that incident were deeply shaken. We wanted so badly to beat him to a pulp and spit on him once he was down. But we couldn't.

Sadly, I don't have a happy coda for this story. I'm pretty sure that neo-Nazi is still there. He had a kid at the time. He told me he was raising his kid to hate anyone who wasn't white. Teaching his boy how to fight and how to hate minorities and how to use the racist system to hurt people. That actually scares me more than the actual confrontation. He's still out there. They all are.

* because this is a longer aside. The people I've met here in the 5 years I've been here are really odd to me. It might be an age thing, but the way people self-identify are much more based upon very surface level "lifestyle" versus any actual culture. They all hang out together, but they are pretty much just a clique beyond living in a "commune" (which is really just a house they all split rent on), they don't do much else, except go to rallies and protests and get in fights (mostly with each other over living situation stuff) and work day jobs. Sometimes some of them are in bands. I know a lot of being young (and white, I might add) is trying out different "lifestyles" and trying to be what you think that means, but I somehow feel like something got lost a long time ago. Just because you are vegan, have dreads, and smoke weed doesn't make you anything other than a vegan with dreads that smokes weed. Getting in fights with assholes pretty much means your someone who gets in fights with assholes. I really do think that a lot of the reason why white people have such a hard time really acting like better people is that our sense of culture really is kind of just a surface level understanding of what that means. Beyond what clothes you wear, what food you do or don't eat (let alone the reasons), what music you like, what is your culture? I'm going to stop here, because this is going all philosophically sideways in my head, but I think we might need to think about who "we" (white people, at least) are and what connects us, let alone what connects us to the other diverse cultures we claim to be trying to protect (from ourselves, it would seem).

At least between those fighting against blatant white supremacists, there is the rejection of the "culture" that white supremacists embrace. Maybe that's good enough for now.
posted by daq at 4:44 PM on June 1, 2017 [33 favorites]

@daq: Am I correct to assume you're sort of referencing the Boston straight edge crew FSU (aka "Friends Stand United" but everyone called them "Fuck Shit Up")?

My experiences going to hardcore and metal shows and being involved in crews was that a lot of it was an outlet for nihilistic toxic masculinity, and a breeding ground for a lot of views that the "alt-right" espouse. I definitely think the majority of people in those situations were just out there to fight anybody and everybody, and I know a lot of people who now look back on our times shared together and agree with those assessments.

I just want to add, since a lot of media about "black bloc" seems to misunderstand, that black bloc isn't so much a specific organization, but rather, a tactic used in protests to show solidarity. So while there can be a black bloc group at a protest, there is no black bloc group to be defined as a singular entity, and AFAIK there's actually some debate amongst anarchist groups on how to tactically use black blocs and whether there should be people elected to street-level tacticians during protests and such.

Although I am not an anarchist, my experiences living with "anarchists" in Portland are similar to daq's. I lived in a communal house with a lot of people, and it was a mess. "House meetings" about simple things turned into 3 or 4-hour-long debates over things such as getting consensus about who was going to do yard work, but also whether it was fair for someone to do yard work if they were too depressed to get out of bed, along with a system to denote to the household how depressed you were so that nobody bothered you, but then the yard work still had to be completed somehow, but if a roommate picks up that slack it wasn't fair to make them do the chores they were delegated to, so then who does those? and ahhhh it was such a hassle. A lot of it really did boil down to arguing amongst each other.

I do find anarchist concepts to be interesting, and I'd honestly love to read about different anarchist groups across the globe (I'm sure there are some zines at the Portland Central Library about that stuff).
posted by gucci mane at 5:22 PM on June 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

Seeing More Blatant Racism in the Streets? You're Not Alone.

In which the legal director of the Oregon ACLU was doing an interview with Al Jazeera in downtown Portland when a man walked up behind them and started doing a Nazi salute. The woman interviewing him was wearing a hijab and the cameraman was black. The interview was on "the rise of hate and Free Speech".
posted by gucci mane at 5:33 PM on June 1, 2017 [9 favorites]

I am really loathe to get into yet another litigation of whether or not it's worth it to fight literal Nazis, an argument that would be unthinkable to have in my grandfather's time

I'm pretty sure these discussions happened in the Weimar Republic. Because fighting Nazis did mean fighting in the streets, not just militaries. And that's ignoring the whole isolationism thing in the US at the time--plenty of people weren't interested in fighting Nazis, saying they were someone else's problem. I don't know who your grandfather was or how old he was, but let's not act as if a) people in the Weimar Republic did not have choices to make about Nazism that involved exposing themselves to or participating in violence and b) plenty of people outside Germany were perfectly content to wash their hands of the situation, even when it was apparent genocide was imminent/ongoing.
posted by hoyland at 5:42 PM on June 1, 2017 [6 favorites]

gucci mane:
No, the F.S.U. (Fuck Shit Up) was something I personally just refer to the chuckleheads who just wanted to break shit or get in fights (and use protests and rallies as a reason to do it). Not all of them are neo-Nazi's, nor are all of them normally people who go to protests and rallies. Shit, I met a guy a few weeks ago who tried to pick a fight with me just to get into a fight. Anyone can have moments where they just want to F.S.U., but there are some people where that is how they are _all_ _the_ _time_.

I am not mentioning any specific crew or sub-culture tags because that is a whole different and ugly ball of F.U.S. (Fucked Up Shit, natch).
posted by daq at 5:47 PM on June 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

> The modern "black bloc" that I keep seeing everyone reference now I always just see as the nihilistic F.S.U. brigade. They just want to Fuck Shit Up. They don't want to make things better (because then they wouldn't have a reason to F.S.U.). They want to be able to say to their friends "yeah, I totally threw that trash can through the Starbuck's window." Has that ever done anything other than make a mess? I'm sure it makes them feel good (I guess?), but aside from the storefront having to pay someone to fix the window, what did it do?

I'm friends with someone who works in a bookshop on a street that faces the UC Berkeley campus. They were in the shop during the Milo protest. As they reported it, blacked-up antifa stood guard in front of the independent shops while other groups went down the street methodically smashing the windows of banks and chain stores. Shortly after, the UC administration cancelled the Milo event.

Previous to the protest, the administration had said that they would only cancel if there was rioting, and so antifa provided exactly enough riot to provoke the administration to cancel.

Maybe antifa is better organized here than in other cities? In any case, what I've seen here, at least, doesn't match your description at all.

there's a whole nother conversation to be had about whether or not smashy has an effect. To my eye driving up the cost of doing business can be a real positive. Moreover, if the shit-breakers focus on property owned by major chains, breaking shit results in a small but meaningful material transfer of wealth from international corporations to the local workers doing the repairs. This is a positive good even if it doesn't meaningfully impact the corporation's bottom line, and even if people in the skilled trades can be kind of shitty sometimes.


posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 6:14 PM on June 1, 2017 [8 favorites]

Look, let's not get carried away with the Weimar thing.

The deal with Weimar was that the Nazi paramilitaries won. They won through assassination, terror and collaboration with the state; they also won because Naziism had tremendous mass traction among Germans, and they won because most of the paramilitaries were ex-soldiers or trained by ex-soldiers. On a purely "which kind of amateur violence is going to win" level, the Nazi paramilitaries were obviously going to win. What's more, left paramilitary organizations have not, historically, been as successful as the right, because winning at that level requires atrocity. The left-wing paramilitaries that do win do some very, very unattractive things because winning through violence is unattractive - vide the FARC and the various left forces in the Spanish Civil War, and the Viet Cong.

It is for this reason that it really depresses me to see left rhetoric drift toward "if you don't want to use every single opportunity for physically fighting with right wing street protesters, you're just like people who were complicit in Nazi Germany". It misunderstands both what is happening here and what happened there.

We are very, very fortunate that, shitty as the times are, we are not facing anything like the Freikorps.

It's like, augh, get together with your friends and try to develop some momentum for a group to attend these rallys with a plan. Look around, pay attention, don't assume that just because someone is all bloc'd up that they are cooler and better at tactics than you are. Don't assume that breaking windows is ipso facto a good thing. (God, if we'd been spared the one stupid and protracted trial over a single window at the RNC protests in 2008! What could people in our community have done with that time, effort, money and emotional work? And what good did it do? One window on a side street.)

The US left has this tendency to assume that the most violent and confrontational way is always the most moral way, and that anyone who doesn't disregard risk and long-term strategy isn't a true leftist, and that there's always some value in people getting punched and arrested. And to totally discount the toll taken by the years - years! - of legal trouble for the people involved. Again, it's one thing if you really think it's worth the price, because some things are. But weigh that against the time, money, labor and care that you and the people around you will expend on your court case.

Doris Lessing alleges in the Children of Violence series that Lenin somewhere wrote that a communist is a dead man on vacation - that is, that your life isn't for you to frivol away on what feels good. Lenin wasn't averse to a little punching, and he and his people did some very ugly things - really personally did ugly things with their own hands. But he didn't do them like a fool, on the theory that if it seemed "radical" it must be good for the struggle. You might contrast him with the much kinder and more appealing anarchist Alexander Berkman, who attempted to assassinate James Frick, a truly awful person. Berkman fucked it up and went to jail, and his mental and physical health were ever after compromised. He made anarchist lemonade out of it by doing prison organizing, and he was by all accounts a total doll, but he is living proof that it's perfectly possible to be extremely right on and still do some really dumb shit that sets the movement back.
posted by Frowner at 6:40 PM on June 1, 2017 [22 favorites]

Seattle is a liberal enclave in Washington state. UW has one of the best MSW programs in the nation which means we have a ton of social worker advocates and so we have more social services available here than most of the rest of the nation.

two of the whitest cities in the country, in line with places like Wichita KS, Fort Wayne IN, and Omaha NE.

Not sure why Seattle is always lumped in with Oregon when this comes up, but according to that census data Seattle is far less whiter than Portland. Apparently less white than Miami.
If you live or work in this city and you don't see POC, then you don't get out much. My experience is that it's about as segregated as any other large US city.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:05 PM on June 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

FWIW Seattle is one of the most Asian cities in America. It still seemed shockingly White to me coming from London, but I think we are maybe overselling that a little.
posted by Artw at 7:08 PM on June 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

According to census data Seattle is less white than Portland, but:
  1. "less white than Portland" is the lowest possible bar to set
  2. Seattle is segregated; downtown and north is largely white and Asian, with most of the Black and Brown people living in the south end.
  3. (this has changed a little bit since I've moved away, since the rent crisis is pushing non-tech-industry white people farther and farther south.
White Seattleites from the northern half of the city are terrified of the south end, but, hrm, can never quite explain why they find it so scary. My favorite little story about that sort of thing is from about a decade ago (christ, I'm old). I was attending a wedding out on Bainbridge island (a massive affair; the family of the bride was old Weyerhaeuser money, IIRC). Guest list was exclusively white-and-asian. I got into a conversation about the (then under construction) light rail line; long story short my interlocutors had been excited about real mass transit coming to Seattle... until they found out that the line was routed through the Rainier Valley, in the south end of town. The Rainier Valley contains the most diverse census tract in America. It is not a particularly dangerous place. Think cute little houses, somali restaurants, pho joints, hipstery coffeeshops gentrified out of capitol hill, etc. Very "old Seattle" to my eye, though this may be because I grew up in the south end.

Anyway. I said it was a transit-starved area, mentioned how crowded the 7 bus line that it would replace got, and noted that it was a good route for getting to the airport while still serving Seattle neighborhoods.

"But, I mean, what are they going to do," they said, "put down bulletproof shutters when they go through there?"

these people would be so hurt if people thought they were racist. so hurt.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:22 PM on June 1, 2017 [22 favorites]

North end, at least by Lake City seems super diverse as well. Also lots of Somali.
posted by Windopaene at 8:25 PM on June 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

yeah, I lived up there for a little while... I probably should have been more precise. white north seattle is, like, fremont-ballard-queen anne-capitol hill-those super rich neighborhoods south of the university that I can never remember the names of / etc. The aurora corridor and lake city are working-class (or at least were in like 2005... I'm sure the tech boom has changed it since then) and kinda suburban in built form.

also uhhh unrelatedly I just wanted to note that I am a loudmouth twerp who's better at stringing together words than at actually knowing stuff, and that literally every time I say something and Frowner says something else, please listen to Frowner instead of me.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:04 PM on June 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

(Sidetrack: Is there a good, walkable, diverse area in South or North Seattle? I've really only spent time in the usual places but some of the areas you all are mentioning sound great.)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:43 PM on June 1, 2017

I loooooved Columbia City when I last lived in Seattle, though I'm guessing the gentrification bomb might have blown it up since then. Beacon Hill is both nice and diverse. it's walkable enough? There's not exactly a center to it, though. If I had stayed in Seattle I would have moved to north Beacon Hill. It seems like a great place to live, but maybe not the most interesting place to visit. I liked it cause a bunch of my friends lived there.

Georgetown is apparently hip now, which confuses me. but which maybe makes it fun to visit. when I was a kid there it was all working-class families, super diverse, and entirely off the cool people radar.

I don't like Lake City at all (really, all of far north Seattle I'm meh on). but that's probably affected by how I lived there when I was a very, very unhappy high schooler. like everything else, it's almost certainly changed dramatically since I lived there.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:45 PM on June 1, 2017

Portland has this reputation as a sort of hippie-dippie liberal utopia, where there is a dispensary on every corner, brightly-painted food carts with cute names dish out kale smoothies and ancient grain bowls, and the primary mode of transportation is kitchily-decorated tallbike. And all of that is true, to an extent. But that whole Portlandia image is, of course, very young, white, and well-off.

I am a gay, Jewish man who spent several years living in East Portland (I fled the city last fall, being unable to afford to live there any longer. And it was scary as all hell sometimes. As the OP says, we've been infested with white supremacists from the outset, and the battles of the 80s and 90s are legendary. But from 2015 or so on, it got steadily, noticeably worse. I was attacked in a bar bathroom in downtown Portland in September, started getting used to being screamed at/having things thrown at me out of pickup trucks, and seriously feared for my safety after interjecting in a group of young men who were talking excitedly about Trump (including, naturally, plenty of antisemitic comments) at what was until then my local dive. I considered buying a shotgun after being threatened and harassed repeatedly by two redneck assholes who lived in my apartment complex.

At least one of my friends was on that car. It is heartbreaking how frightened my PoC and LGBT friends who are still there are. Everything about this is nauseating and enraging and crushingly sad.

Portland has a terrible neo-Nazi/white supremacist problem, and though I am beyond horrified and appalled by the terror attack last week, I cannot honestly say I am surprised. And that is possibly the worst part out of a lot of awful, awful components.
posted by Reynard Digitalis at 10:58 PM on June 1, 2017 [16 favorites]

Jim Ryan, Oregonian: Someone stole MAX attack victim's wedding ring, backpack
Police are asking for help finding a man suspected of stealing the wedding ring and backpack of one of Friday's MAX stabbing attack victims.

The ring and backpack belong to Rick Best, one of two men slain in the attack, police said. Best, 53, was a father, Army veteran, city of Portland employee and onetime candidate for Clackamas County commissioner.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:48 AM on June 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

Jim Ryan, Oregonian: Someone stole MAX attack victim's wedding ring, backpack

KGW is reporting that they have a suspect in custody. It doesn't do much to restore my faith in humanity, but a good public excoriation of this human vulture wouldn't upset me either.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:03 AM on June 2, 2017 [6 favorites]

'Alt-right celebrities' are holding a rally in Portland. Who are they?

An “alt-right” rally in Portland is going ahead on Sunday, despite the city’s grief in the wake of a white supremacist double murder and the pleas of mayor Ted Wheeler.

Far-right activists are coming from all over the country to show their support for what they describe as “free speech” and a significant counter-protest is planned in response.

The rally will include the well-advertised presence of many “alt-right celebrities”, all of whom emerged during Trump’s campaign, or in the months since. Some have achieved prominence by cutting a striking presence at rallies, others by engaging in violence at those same events.

So who are the players who will be in evidence?

posted by gucci mane at 9:05 AM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

According to a thing that's going around Facebook, they have a GoFundMe to try to send the following people to stir shit up in Portland:

-Baked Alaska ( )
-Mike Tokes ( )
-The Red Elephants ( )
-Omar Navarro ( )
posted by bink at 9:24 AM on June 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Population and Demographics
These maps present an overview of some basic demographic and population estimates for the City of Portland. They show population characteristics for race, ethnicity, educational attainment, income and poverty levels by neighborhood area. These maps can provide insight into who lives where in Portland.
posted by aniola at 10:07 AM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Equity: Further Reading (City of Portland pdf)
posted by aniola at 10:16 AM on June 2, 2017

For a very detailed and well-researched look at what what was going on during and at the time of the writing of the Oregon constitution, including the Black Exclusion clause, I strongly recommend an online exhibit called "Crafting the Oregon Constitution," particularly the chapters "Blacks in Oregon Meet Hostility," "The 'Negro Question' and Oregon Politics," and "Pervasive Issues of Race." "Debating Religion and Voting Rights" and "Oregon Social Life and Minoriites After Statehood" have some good stuff, too.
posted by msalt at 10:49 AM on June 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

Man Pummels MAX Train Operator While Screaming About First Amendment Rights
The train operator wasn't seriously hurt.

One week after a double murder on a Portland MAX train horrified the city, a man riding a Blue Line MAX in East Portland started pummeling a TriMet operator who asked him to stop screaming about First Amendment rights.

The alleged assault occurred shortly after 2:15 pm this afternoon at the MAX station on East 122nd Avenue and Burnside Street. As the train approached the station, the operator asked a passenger to stop shouting, says Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Chris Burley.

"He was screaming and yelling about First Amendment rights," says Burley. "The operator of the train broadcast over the loudspeaker that he needed to quiet down."

When the train reached its stop, the operator went into the train's passenger car to ask the man to leave. The passenger physically attacked him, though accounts differ slightly on how. Police say he punched the driver. "He struck him several times," says Burley.

TriMet says the driver was pushed to the ground. Other passengers pulled the man off the driver.

posted by gucci mane at 6:09 PM on June 2, 2017 [6 favorites]

Muslim couple harassed in Portland, told 'go back to your country'

A Muslim couple was harassed in Northeast Portland Friday by a man who allegedly shouted at them to "go back to your f—ing country" before making hand gestures that resembled him pulling the trigger on a handgun, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said.
posted by gucci mane at 6:50 PM on June 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

Analysts on Portland's public radio station were criticizing Mayor Wheeler for calling for the demonstrations to be canceled, and I have trouble sharing that opinion.

It would have been more complicated if he had legal power to revoke the permit -- though I still think the potential for violence overrides free speech at a certain point -- but in this case he was just asking, so how is that not is free speech?

One of the commentators was making the argument that the incident proved the need to give people the right to stand up for what they believe in, by which she meant the one teenage girl's decision to wear an hijab.

But it occurred to me that the incident makes at least as good a case for the opposite view, since the murderer was harassing and abusing those girls under the justification of free speech, the heros simply asked him to observe proper boundaries, and he lashed out violently in response.

That's a much better example for why some of these protestors are going beyond free speech into intimidation and violence, than it is for allowing them to do whatever they want. Even before they started hyping the arrival of figures celebrated for violence in other demonstrations around the country as if they were advertising an upcoming wrestling match.
posted by msalt at 11:07 PM on June 2, 2017 [6 favorites]

Good luck tomorrow, people.
posted by Justinian at 2:37 PM on June 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

I repeat myself in this thread: I am a Portlander. If you are going to be out tomorrow and you want to meet up, please memail me. I have been doing street and activisty stuff for some time now, I am uncomfortable and a little scared about the situation now, but I also feel now more than ever that it is imperative to show up. I am happy to help out others who want to show up. We must be here for one another.

btw also everytthing Frowner says in this thread is the truth. I sometimes get kind of complacent about how "regular folks" dont understand the appeal, drama, drawbacks, and context of dumb street shit, but I am kind of ashamed that I haven't given a shot to sharing it as they did upthread. Their exposition about the general group orientation of left and right street activist folks rings true to me as well, and I agree that boxing clever is much, much more valuable than trying to meet head on. And I am so disturbed and upset that a lot of mouthy internet folks have been really hopping on the WAHOO PUNCH NAZIS train because it's easy as fuck to say "punch nazis lol" on twitter or whatever, and it sounds cool and runs right back into the dumb idea that you have to do stupid shit to earn cred or whatever, and that stupid tendency is bigger than any political orientation and i beg you do not feed that notion. We don't win shit when we are sucked into a bunch of court date/jail support shit, when people's lives are interrupted by incarceration and they're traumatized from shit that went down. Street fighting doesn't solve the big things. It's just a tactic.

And I am going out tomorrow and hmu if you want a friendly face in a weird crowd. Or if you are in town in general, it's a sad tense time.
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 3:20 PM on June 3, 2017 [7 favorites]

Email sent. Also, can you unpack "boxing clever" a bit? I'm sensing that you don't really mean fisticuffs, but maybe I'm wrong.
posted by msalt at 4:00 PM on June 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

"boxing clever" ie not responding to provocations by getting into a slugfest. Referring to Frowner's post upthread:
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 4:20 PM on June 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

Multiple rallies scheduled Sunday in downtown Portland

The following agencies will be helping the Portland Police Bureau ensure public safety on Sunday:
Oregon State Police
Multnomah County Sheriff's Office
Federal Protective Service
Department of Homeland Security
Federal Bureau of Investigation
United States Attorney's Office
Multnomah County District Attorney's Office
Portland Fire & Rescue

jfc this is a wild grouping of federal agencies for a protest. It IS on federal property, but is this normal? I still don't have any idea wtf the federal agencies are going to be like in the midst of a gigantic situation such as this.
posted by gucci mane at 4:26 PM on June 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

can you unpack "boxing clever"

It's what Nanny Ogg advises Esme Weatherwax when she needs to defeat the heroic but extremely strong-willed Mrs. Gogol in Witches Abroad!

I just always think of it as meaning "don't charge into a situation or underestimate your opponents". Like, if you have to be in a conflict, don't let your opponent trick or push you into doing something rash. (Not to insult Mrs. Gogol, who is a terrific character and has her reasons.)

Granny shrugged. Mrs Gogol held up the doll by its waist. It had sapphire blue eyes.

'You know about magic with mirrors? This is my kind of mirror, Mistress Weatherwax. I can make it be you. And then I can make it suffer. Don't make me do that. Please.'

'Please yourself, Mrs Gogol. But I'll deal with Lily.'

'I should box a bit clever if I was you, Esme,' muttered Nanny Ogg. 'She's good at this sort of thing.'

'I think she could be very ruthless,' said Magrat.

'I've got nothing but the greatest respect for Mrs Gogol,' said Granny. 'A fine woman. But talks a bit too much. If I was her, I'd have had a couple of big nails right through that thing by now.'

posted by Frowner at 4:31 PM on June 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

I often think of Granny Weatherwax in times of trouble.

I'm not even kidding.
posted by Frowner at 4:33 PM on June 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

jfc this is a wild grouping of federal agencies for a protest. It IS on federal property, but is this normal?

That's not even kind of normal, that's a LOT of police firepower. Hoooooopefully they're just there to guard against actual violence, but that many feds makes me itchy.
posted by corb at 4:36 PM on June 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

Blow Pony, a queer dance party, posted this on Facebook:

Happy to see that people are organizing a Portland against hate tomorrow during the Alt Right white supremacist rally. However, We can't get behind the organizers referring to ANTIFA and Anarchist as "goons" and "thugs". This is why we get outnumbered and have serious divisions in our camps. We don't have to like each other or each other's tactics, but name calling and throwing other like minded folk under the bus by stating they're "violent" and we're not, leaving people to shift alone under tomorrow's climate is just plain stupid!
It wasn't the Portland Police who responded when we had a group of Nazi Skinheads parade by one of our events. ANTIFA and their supporters came out, stood at each corner and made sure Trans and Queer folk were safe. More of this please.
Let's trying working together and less against one another.

posted by gucci mane at 6:23 PM on June 3, 2017 [16 favorites]

Nothing I said upthread should be interpreted to mean "not physically fighting even though that's the only option on the table", just for the record. Augh, be as safe as possible, everyone.

Also, if people want more Perspectives From An Old, another really bad thing to do is to throw militant people under the bus just because they're militant. After the RNC protests in 2008 there were huge schisms between the respectability-politics people who wanted to disavow everyone who did anything even sort of illegal and the rest of us, and it was really dumb. You don't have to think that punching a nazi is always the most effective strategy at every moment, but you've got to stand up for people once they have done the punching. Nothing wrong with punching a nazi, in the moral sense. Also, we have to keep our eyes on the ball - if our people, like, break a window and their people are heiling Hitler, focusing on the window and how very, very sad it is when windows get broken is a bad idea.

We've just got to act with as much thoughtfulness, solidarity and probity as we can muster right now. I feel like my teeth are clenched all the time because we just have to be so on.
posted by Frowner at 6:36 PM on June 3, 2017 [19 favorites]

Actually, that statement reminds me of an embarrassing and terrible story that hopefully others can learn from.

About ten years ago, I was organizing against the war, with a group of veterans. (On preview, hilariously, like Frowner, in 2008). So were some anarchists. We were going to be in the same march. We were young then, and really worried that if the anarchists marched WITH us, they would taint the respectability of our march. We worried that if people saw them with us, they wouldn't think that good, honorable, American citizens opposed the war - they would think it was "just a pack of dirty hippies". It would mess with our optics, which we had planned with, naturally, military precision. They pleaded with us not to separate ourselves from them - to at least let them march immediately at our rear. We worried it would confuse people as to our actual numbers. We worried about a lot of things. As I said, it was ten years ago. We were young.

When the march came, we saw we had been right - but also very, very wrong. The police, you see, wouldn't touch us. Some, veterans themselves, refused to even point their weapons at us. At least three had to be removed from the front lines for that reason. We were untouchable. We were about at the point the secret service was going to have to step in, when staffers caved. So in that part, we were right.

But our anarchist friends? Separated from the "respectable" veterans, they had been easy prey for the cops, who simply grabbed them out of the march, with no qualms or compunctions against rough tactics. Many of them were beaten and arrested. We had no idea until the end. We had been marching with our eyes to the front, and the police were very, very good at this.

Not unreasonably, our coalition fractured.

Don't be like me ten years ago. Lend your respectability to those who don't have it. We have to stand together if we are going to beat these fuckers.
posted by corb at 6:43 PM on June 3, 2017 [21 favorites]

That's a whole lot of state organizations that have been proven to be infiltrated by white supremacists.

For God's sake, if for some reason you think it's wise to go tomorrow, stay safe and in groups.
posted by Yowser at 7:27 PM on June 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

And I mean the government police/police proxies when I say "state," in case it isn't clear.
posted by Yowser at 7:29 PM on June 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Guardian: Leader of Oathkeepers confirms they will attend, after speaking with local Republican leader who mused about bringing them in.

Oathkeepers leader also claims he spoke with Portland police who said that ex-law enforment officers were not allowed to carry weapons in Schrunk Plaza tomorrow. PPD denies they spoke to him, saying he took public statements and pretended they were a private conversation, but correct no guns.

Apparently Oathkeepers thinks that as ex-LEOs they have a free pass to carry guns anywhere.
posted by msalt at 11:22 PM on June 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

From Mat Dos Santos (legal director of ACLU Oregon):
(Full twitter thread edited for Facebook)

Did an interview with Al Jazeera in downtown Portland this morning and man walks up and starts doing the Nazi salute behind me on camera.

The interview was on the rise of hate and Free Speech. The woman interviewing me was wearing a hijab. The cameraman was African American.

It was horrifying. We had to stop the interview and ask him to leave. You can't make this up.

If you still think racism and Islamophobia in Portland isn't a thing, you're fooling yourself.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:33 AM on June 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

Also, if people want more Perspectives From An Old, another really bad thing to do is to throw militant people under the bus just because they're militant.

In a very real sense, it is the militants (or at least the prospect of militants) that make successful peaceful protest possible. You deal with Martin Luther King Jr, or you deal with Malcolm X.
posted by Justinian at 1:52 AM on June 4, 2017 [7 favorites]

This thread warms my heart. And to clarify my comment upthread about slugging-- same qualifications-- not an absolute afainst violence but an acknowledgement of the current field and a hope that we dont get drawn into tempting and easy demo punchups just because they are there. Anyway.
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 8:31 AM on June 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Who Radicalized Jeremy Christian? Alt-Right Extremists Rush to Distance Themselves From MAX Slaying Suspect

Christian's social-media posts also make clear he saw himself as the street-level enforcer for a neo-Nazi movement larger than himself.

"Brown shirts are rank and file," he wrote on Facebook on Jan. 23. "Nihilist Criminals like me facilitate and run the show if we are talking about recreating the third Reich. You need unhindered and unhinged thugs for dirty work. A Good thing we have the largest collection of them in the entire world!!!"

posted by msalt at 11:18 AM on June 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

Portlanders, Don't Shoot PDX is hosting a free BBQ in Dawson Park today from 1:00 to 3:00, in support of the black community. Text from the FB event page is below, and the organizers have confirmed that all are welcome.

Know Your Rights in Oregon and Reconnect with your community!! Recent tragedies in our community have made it clear to the entire nation that the testimonies and stories of racism from #BlackPortland are not to be ignored! We can no longer accept the courageous moderation over an immediate investigation of these claims of racism, violence and terror. This Sunday we break bread in the park and celebrate our community with FREE Barbecue, Art and Music 🎶Let's Chill and Get on the same page in the park!! #PDXCivilRights #BlackLivesMatter #YourVoiceCounts
posted by terooot at 12:09 PM on June 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

Good luck to everyone in Portland!

(except Nazis, obvs)
posted by Artw at 12:48 PM on June 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you're reading this, watch out for fake journalist and alt-right fuckhead Tim Pool.
posted by Yowser at 12:57 PM on June 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

How would I recognize him? What would he be doing? (Heading down now, wish me luck.)
posted by msalt at 1:11 PM on June 4, 2017

Nice nazi motorcycle goggles.

These people really love going to protests with all manor of protective gear, don't they? Not spoiling for a fight at all.
posted by Artw at 1:39 PM on June 4, 2017

The TV makes it look like the pro-Trump rally people are more or less completely surrounded by many more counter-protestors.
posted by Justinian at 1:56 PM on June 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'm here- right wingers with flags on big sticks and metal poles but police are confiscating wmeanwhile the "Unpresidented Brass Band" is ripping it up across the street with diverse group dancing. So far so good.
posted by msalt at 2:11 PM on June 4, 2017 [5 favorites]

They undoubtedly have a fuckload of knives as well and will be keeping those.
posted by Artw at 2:13 PM on June 4, 2017

Demonstrators on 3 sides of Trumpeters - union side on east, antifa to north, older peace niks to west
posted by msalt at 2:42 PM on June 4, 2017 [5 favorites]

Found some live coverage here (Mercury) and here (Oregonian).

On a side note, silly string seems like a good weapon choice for antifa.
posted by honestcoyote at 2:47 PM on June 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

On the Trump block, there's a drunk guy yelling for more city aid for the (poor, white) Lents neighborhood (aka Felony Flats). That's about the only reasonable argument over there, but he's annoying his colleagues and may get beaten up by them.
posted by msalt at 3:10 PM on June 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

Lots of capes and homemade superhero type outfits on the Trump side. They seem to have an unrealistic view of how cool they look.
posted by msalt at 3:14 PM on June 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yeah, from what I've seen Antifa is playing this pretty intelligently so far. Everything remains peaceful, but the flash point will be when the (currently surrounded on 3 sides) Trump people decide to leave.
posted by msalt at 3:16 PM on June 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Nick Spencer has a lot to answer for.
posted by Artw at 3:17 PM on June 4, 2017

> The deal with Weimar was that the Nazi paramilitaries won. They won through assassination, terror and collaboration with the state; they also won because Naziism had tremendous mass traction among Germans, and they won because most of the paramilitaries were ex-soldiers or trained by ex-soldiers. On a purely "which kind of amateur violence is going to win" level, the Nazi paramilitaries were obviously going to win. What's more, left paramilitary organizations have not, historically, been as successful as the right, because winning at that level requires atrocity.

I've basically been nodding my head vigorously at everything you've written, Frowner, but I'm going to push back against this. The Nazi paramilitaries won because of Stalin's stupid and counterproductive policy of condemning all non-Communist socialist parties as "social fascist" (and seeing them as inherently worse than actual fascists, so that in effect the CP was allied with the Nazis against the socialists). If the CP had joined its strength (which was considerable) with that of the non-Communist socialists, it's quite possible they could have defeated the Nazis and kept Hitler from coming to power, though of course one can never know. The lesson here is don't be leftier-than-thou: anyone fighting the fascists is your comrade until that struggle is won. Also, the left has been very good at atrocity in its day; nobody's hands are clean.

> Lenin wasn't averse to a little punching, and he and his people did some very ugly things - really personally did ugly things with their own hands. But he didn't do them like a fool, on the theory that if it seemed "radical" it must be good for the struggle.

I'm going to push back against this, too, though I'm not quite sure what you mean by it. It's true that Lenin didn't think he was acting like a fool, he thought the violence he insisted on was vital for the struggle... but that's because he was a maniac who thought violence was the answer to all history's problems, and the workers (led, of course, by the CP) could and must triumph by violently crushing all other classes. Here's his famous telegram from August 1918 (Russian available here):
Comrades! The revolt by the five kulak volost's must be suppressed without mercy. The interest of the entire revolution demands this, because we have now before us our final decisive battle "with the kulaks." We need to set an example.
1) You need to hang (hang without fail, so that the public sees) at least 100 notorious kulaks, the rich, and the bloodsuckers.
2) Publish their names.
3) Take away all of their grain.
4) Execute the hostages - in accordance with yesterday's telegram.
This needs to be accomplished in such a way, that people for hundreds of miles around will see, tremble, know and scream out: let's choke and strangle those blood-sucking kulaks.
Telegraph us acknowledging receipt and execution of this. Yours, Lenin
P.S. Use your toughest people for this.
This is not a model to follow.
posted by languagehat at 3:20 PM on June 4, 2017 [13 favorites]

I debated long and hard about going today but I ended up staying home, not least because I realized that I'm actually spoiling for a fight. Just really angry lately. Thanks and respect to those who showed up to represent the better angels of our nature.
(though if rhetorical push does come to literal shove, my black hoodie and stompy Docs and bad attitude will be right here waiting)
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 3:24 PM on June 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

Antifa are lined up 2-3 deep on the side of their block closest to the Trump people. Police are asking them to move to the centter of their block, presumably in preparation for Trump folks leaving.

The Trump people for all their tough talk, are avoiding the Antifa and union demonstrators and are yelling at the peace activists.
posted by msalt at 3:33 PM on June 4, 2017 [6 favorites]

Loud bangs - they're by police, an officer tells me. He says " we do this at every one of these." Loudspeaker - "this is an unlawful assembly - please disperse. Your members are assaulting police. Not clear who they're talking to.
posted by msalt at 3:37 PM on June 4, 2017

But the previous announcement said to clear the south side of Chapman Square - that's the only side of Trump demo that does NOt have a counter demonstration.
posted by msalt at 3:38 PM on June 4, 2017

Trump supporters trying to start trouble now. A group of 15-20 very large rough looking guys walking right through center of union demonstration, seeking confrontation.
posted by msalt at 4:06 PM on June 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

There's no such thing as a free speech zone !
posted by Yowser at 4:08 PM on June 4, 2017

They are self-described "Proud Boys" an organized group. A couple are still arguing with people, the bulk of them went to drink at Paddy's. "You'll find the fash at Paddy's"one says as they leave.
posted by msalt at 4:13 PM on June 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

it's silly, but it's deeply sustaining to see someone bring a tuba to antifa demonstration (Oregonian photo), for personal reasons.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 4:14 PM on June 4, 2017 [7 favorites]

Probably was part of the marching band which was great.
posted by msalt at 4:16 PM on June 4, 2017

Call Paddy's, let them know that self-described fascists might be there.
posted by Yowser at 4:24 PM on June 4, 2017

Down to maybe 100 Trump fans. Looks like we're going to get through this without too much damage. (Knock wood)
posted by msalt at 4:48 PM on June 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

Trump people left - maybe forced to. Lots of helmets, wolf-themed shirts and hats. 2 guys with neo-nazi insignia( I'm guessing) started a skirmish.

Across street, left protestors blocked Jefferson street briefly, easily dispersed by police in riot gear.based Spartan strutting away, riasing both bare arms in muscle pose. So much pro wrestling in his pose.

Police announce Chapman Square is closed. Trumpers at 4th and Jefferson walking through a knot of counter demonstrators. Yelling, chanting, some shoving.
posted by msalt at 5:12 PM on June 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

After being forced out of the park, it looks like the counterprotesters that had been there were trapped in an intersection a few blocks north. They are processing people for disorderly conduct, and have been for a little while now. The counterprotests on the other sides of the rally were still going when I last passed by about half an hour ago.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 5:26 PM on June 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

They are processing people for disorderly conduct, and have been for a little while now.

Are any charges legit, or was this just a case of kettle and charge everybody who happens to be in the way?
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 5:29 PM on June 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

Mulp and msalt, thanks so much for the live updates. I am home n exhausted, was up all night wrangling kiddos so this was p much it.

See ya next time i guess
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 5:30 PM on June 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

posted by nixon's meatloaf at 5:30 PM on June 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

Kettle (I'd meant to put disorderly conduct in quotes.)
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 5:33 PM on June 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

See, that is so much bullshit. Good job PPD, round up a bunch of protesters and charge them because why the fuck not, because you can, regardless if they did anything other than show up to support their neighbors and stand against hate. Disorderly conduct my ass.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 5:39 PM on June 4, 2017 [7 favorites]

I just walked by 4th and Morrison - the block across to Alder is cordoned off, lots of debris in the street. Looks like something was smashed and strewn. Don't know if this is the same thing nixon's meatloaf was rreferring to.

So at the end of the day the actual demonstrations were remarkably peaceful. No doubt the press will be going on and on about "rioting" several blocks away.
posted by msalt at 5:46 PM on June 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Washington Post just released a fresh hot steaming pile of both sides.
posted by Yowser at 5:51 PM on June 4, 2017 [2 favorites]
posted by Yowser at 5:53 PM on June 4, 2017

That's not even both sides. That's "Joey Gibson brought a message of peace, antifa are getting flashbanged."
posted by corb at 6:43 PM on June 4, 2017

What is Bezos' issue with antifa?
posted by corb at 6:44 PM on June 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Bezos sucks? IDK.

So, now I have kind of relaxed for a bit and I want to give the scene report.

I was expecting something much, much more tense. the fascists were indeed hemmed in on 3 sides by protestors and 4th by a wall. There were 3 sorta separate zones, the union zone (no masks, loudspeakers, chants chants chants); the ISO/city hall zone (incredibly packed full of people, including a big group out in the street with musical stuff / giant flags etc facing the fascist's block.

I hung out in Chapman mostly because City Hall was too crowded for me and I preferred to stay masked because there was a fucking shitload of people filming every goddamn thing... like dudes filming each others' sides, dudes following around people who looked blocd up, and at least two "Youtube POlitical Personalities" bloviating w/ camera, and I'm not a fan so masks it was. That was honestly the weirdest part for me. All the filming!

Brass band yes, multiple drum circles yes, basically no skirmishes I heard about. Very pleased to see a massive turnout against these jerks. I dipped after flashbangs because I was running on no sleep from religious commitments the night before and wasn't feeling like sticking it out.

At said religious commitment in the morning I had conversations about what was going on downtown and felt weird about it, I had been trying to kinda separate my militant activities from, uh, being a Sunday school teacher. But I was happy to dispel some of the weird myths about antifa and the bloc and street wackiness in general. And it was so, so nice to see so many different sorts of people out this afternoon, I'd like to remind people that aside from weird tense moments that you don't need to be down with the clown or whatever to come out in to the streets!

I'm so tired! It's been weeks of so many commitments topped off by this and I just want to shower and sleep!
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 7:12 PM on June 4, 2017 [17 favorites]

Addendum: i hear from someone who was in another part of the square that the cop response and kettling happened exclusively to the antifa block. So kind of a neat example of what corb pointed out upthread about police going after the less respectable wing. I just assumed they were shutting down the whole thing, because that's where I was.
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 7:17 PM on June 4, 2017 [10 favorites]

It appears that the police ran the antifa out of Chapman square and that the kettling/ruckus happened as they pursued them several blocks away. There are reports that someone was slingshotting marbles from there into the Trump camp, which may account for the "attacked police" allegation as there were police all over. If true that's uncool but water ballons from a funnelator would have been funny.

Over on the union side where I was, none of that was noticeable; I had no idea antifa were no longer there (a block over).
posted by msalt at 8:01 PM on June 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

It seems worth noting that in mass demonstrations, antifa/bloc seem to be the ones that the right doesn't attack, and therefore they do have a protective effect. Which in part probably accounts for police hostility. Also, if it's anything like MPLS, the cops have particular hate for particular people and target them personally. Years ago now, someone I know was jumped by off-duty cops and beaten up enough that he had lots of bruises.

Thank you for the report backs - I really appreciate getting these from mefites.
posted by Frowner at 8:14 PM on June 4, 2017 [12 favorites]

Just got home, what a fucking ride. I was there from about 12 noon until just before things went south (left around 4:30). Spent most of the time with the organized labor and student groups (east and west sides of the park), because the impressively large Antifa contingent (north side) was made up of a ton of young male anarchist goons, who were not helping, mixed in with lots of what I would call positive anarchist/radical/communist types. Collectively I think they might have been the single largest group there, though, which was surprising to me at least. I'm obviously a bunch of years out of date, but from the tactics (groups handing out water and granola bars along with flyer, lots of well-organized medics, microphone checks) and some familiar faces it looks like there was a lot of cross-pollination with Occupy.

The Pro-Trump people were all super angry and to be honest didn't look like they were having a lot of fun. On our side of the street we had a brass band (the delightfully named "Unpresidented Brass Band"), lots of great chants, and our multi-generational and impressively (for Portland) multi-ethnic group was laughing and cheering and generally having a great time. Contrast that with a bunch of people all dressed in red screaming "WE HATE YOU, GET OUT OF OUR COUNTRY" and it honestly made me feel a little bit sorry for them. I'm sure getting worked up as part of a hateful crowd strokes the lizard brain too (I'm on Twitter) but from where I was standing the positivity was unbeatable. Lots of very vocal culture warriors including completely open white supremacists. Not everybody there was one by any stretch but they sure don't mind sharing a forum.

Cops moving in on Antifa went down predictably — from what I saw, someone from behind the lines threw a plastic water bottle, and since they'd already been arresting people in a low-intensity way this gave them a reason to clear the park. To their credit, the cops only cleared the south side of the Antifa area (directly facing the Trump people), and left three sides of the park open for people to come and go as they pleased, and no attempt was made to clear the park while I was there. Sidebar: I had never been around concussion grenades before and even from across the street the first few startled the shit out of me. The next 10 or so were just really fucking annoying.

The thing that finally made me get out of there was a really shitty encounter I had with a youth organizer who was standing with the labor people. I had earplugs in by this point because of the grenades, and so it took me a few minutes to realize that this young guy next to me was putting his bullhorn right in my ear and leading chants at me. I asked him what he was doing, and he said that my T-shirt (OBAMA, with the BAM stylized as like a Batman interstitial, and which am independent campaign team I worked with got custom printed to celebrate our work to help elect the guy) meant that I wanted to punch President Obama, and that my sign ("White Supremacy is Cowardly", and the made-a-lot-more-sense-in-my-head "You Can't Run the Country on Liberal Tears" which tons of people misinterpreted, but as soon as I explained that it's about how provoking liberal outrage is no substitute for a policy and yes I know it doesn't make a very good sign, and then we laughed and laughed and laughed) obviously meant that I was a pro-Trump infiltrator who was mocking the counter-protestors. A bunch of people had asked me about the sign already, so at least some folks could back me up, but it ended with him getting right up in my face and looking like he was either going to punch me in the face or cry in frustration, which since he seemed to genuinely believe that I was a right-wing instigator was a little understandable but still more than I could really deal with by this point. All I could do was look him in the eye and keep repeating "I promise I am not your enemy. I promise." and, finally, he accepted it enough to move on.

I headed out shortly after and I'm glad I did because apparently things went extremely south. I will say that this was an overwhelmingly positive and peaceful event, that the city came together to put up a screen against hate, and that you should be EXTREMELY skeptical of news coverage that tries to spin it otherwise.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 8:18 PM on June 4, 2017 [23 favorites]

Not that it really matters but for fact-checking sake it looks like I left at 4. Things were apparently very bad by 4:30.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 8:52 PM on June 4, 2017

I am considering to learn de-escalation. Are there classes for that? I am so tired of the exact thing OE says up thread playing out at stuff like this. Misunderstandings that get weird and high key because strangers are interacting in an adrenalin-soaked environ.

Also, omg, i saw that sign and was super perplexed.
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 9:35 PM on June 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

Yup, terribly conceived sign. Wracked with guilt about it, but what can you do.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 9:41 PM on June 4, 2017

It seems worth noting that in mass demonstrations, antifa/bloc seem to be the ones that the right doesn't attack

That is an excellent point. Antifa drew the hostile action, leaving the union and antiwar folks left alone. Looks like even the "Proud Boys" were less than eager to confront antifa directly. Thanks for being the left's Gallipoli! /s
posted by msalt at 9:47 PM on June 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

Hi everyone! I was there, walking around in a forest green bomber jacket and PF Flyers (just in case anyone saw me, although this is a vague description). I mostly hung out by the labor unions the entire time, right behind their big banner that said "Portland Labor Against Fascism" (or whatever it said). I walked around the antifa/anarchist area by Chapman Square a lot, but didn't spend much time over there. It was jovial in that area, and I appreciated that they had photos of the neo-Nazis and such.

After the police moved in when their permit was up they really lost organization. They pushed us back to the next park over, and I stood around the big elk statue for a long time. There was tear gas and rubber bullets fired, and then my friend (who is British and not use to going to protests) said he was scared by the labor unions, so I went over there the rest of the time.

It seemed like some scuffles broke out but nothing too serious. The police presence was fairly heavy and I didn't notice how many of the federal officers were there.

I have no good photos of the event currently because I was using my film camera most of the time, and I recorded a lot of videos but imgur doesn't allow them. Here's a link to some shitty photos though! boop Here's me
posted by gucci mane at 10:03 PM on June 4, 2017 [9 favorites]

I wanted to mention though, since all those dudes flew in here to cause trouble, people on my Facebook are telling everyone to be careful because those guys may be roaming around the city tonight stirring up trouble.
posted by gucci mane at 10:06 PM on June 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

I am considering to learn de-escalation. Are there classes for that?
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 9:35 PM on June 4

I volunteered to be a Safety Marshall at the March For Truth here in Chicago, put on by IndivisibleChi. All volunteers were required to attend a training class for how to be a Marshall, and one of the topics covered was de-escalation.
Both the training AND being a Marshall were a great experience for me. Contact your local Indivisible Group, Union Headquarters (my trainer was employed by a Union Organization that covers four different Unions in Chicago), or even City Hall or the Police Department, and ask if they offer training or know where you can get it. If you can't find anything, MeMail me and I'll give you my trainer's contact info, she may have information through the Unions that could help you find training, but my guess is if you start asking around, you will find people on most sides being very helpful to you.
posted by W Grant at 10:21 PM on June 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

I just posted some photos on IMGUR. Some of the Neo-Nazis had helmets with hand-made insignia, the Norse rune Odal on a white diamond in a red circle. Wikipedia reports:
The rendition of the Odal rune with wings or feet (serifs) was the emblem of ethnic Germans (Volksdeutsche) of the 7th SS Volunteer Mountain Division Prinz Eugen operating during World War II in the Nazi Germany-sponsored Independent State of Croatia. This rendition has been used by the Neo-Nazi Wiking-Jugend in Germany, and in South Africa by the Anglo-Afrikaner Bond, the Boeremag, the Blanke Bevrydingsbeweging,[5] and the Italian neo-fascist group National Vanguard (Italy). This particular rendition has no historical significance outside of Nazi Germany.

Another version with arrows on the end was used by the 23rd SS Volunteer Panzer Grenadier Division Nederland. ...

United States: In November 2016, the leadership of the National Socialist Movement announced their intention to replace the swastika with the Odal rune on their uniforms and party regalia in an attempt to enter mainstream politics.

posted by msalt at 2:12 AM on June 5, 2017 [5 favorites]

Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch on the National Socialist Movement's eliding of the swastika: Nationalist Front Chumming up to Klan Members Once Again
Since last fall, the Nationalist Socialist Movement (NSM) has attempted to hide its admiration for Adolf Hitler by removing the swastika from NSM uniforms, banners, patches and shields.

“We are enacting another best launch our party into the mainstream and out of the so-called fringes.... [of] American politics,” NSM leader Jeff Schoep wrote in a public announcement. This decision coincided with Schoep changing the name of his coalition Aryan Nationalist Alliance to the Nationalist Front (NF), a move more than likely encouraged by Matthew Heimbach, leader of the white nationalist group Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP).
posted by XMLicious at 3:27 AM on June 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

Trumpers have been doing that kind of shot since before the election and now people are noticing? They fucking Seig Heiled him on a regular basis.
posted by Artw at 7:55 AM on June 5, 2017

If you're referring to my photo, I want to be clear -- the one guy in the background is not doing a Nazi salute. He's holding up a flag that is cropped so you can see the helmet insignia.
posted by msalt at 11:00 AM on June 5, 2017

No, it was a pretty wide phenomena that everyone ignored and made excuses for I think just because they flat out couldn't believe it.
posted by Artw at 11:12 AM on June 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yup, terribly conceived sign. Wracked with guilt about it, but what can you do.

Eh, I think it falls into the "there was this weird sign that someone on our side brought" category. The guy who was all "your t-shirt means you hate Obama" made a bad judgment call, probably feels bad about it and was, himself, under a lot of stress.

Some years ago, at a medium-sized protest (and it's funny but I can't even remember what we were protesting...probably the prison industrial complex) I was part of a group that basically ran off (by being jerky, not by making threats) a photographer on the suspicion that he was working for the cops. To be fair to us, there had been plenty of infiltrators and creepy photographers around, but in retrospect I honestly feel that we made the wrong call. He was just some arts guy thinking he'd take some dramatic documentary photos, he didn't know anyone there, and he was older than the median age but not obviously an old hippie. I think that if we'd relied on our common sense instead of being hopped up on paranoia, it would have been clear to us that he was just some guy. But the situation was one that induced paranoia.

But anyway - I won't regale people with my own personal Activism I Did It Wrong moments, but don't feel too bad.
posted by Frowner at 11:35 AM on June 5, 2017 [5 favorites]

I'm friends with some local antifa, and they're passing around a picture on Facebook that seems to show one of the Oathkeepers "assisting" at an antifa arrest - grabbing the flex cuffs from a cop's back to give them to a cop using both hands to subdue someone. Did anyone else see this kind of cooperation? Trying to figure out what was happening there.
posted by corb at 12:19 PM on June 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

I wish I could be surprised about that.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:45 PM on June 5, 2017

One of my respites from politics is following the latest new design trends, especially regarding new fonts (especially FREE fonts). So I was more than a little put off by a font called "Youth Culture", considering that the whole 'Blackletter' style is not only Medieval in origin, but has more recently been identified with the Third Reich. "Youth Culture"? More like Hitler Youth Culture.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:19 PM on June 5, 2017

Yeah, the Oathkeepers are a bunch of right-wing gun nuts whose mission statement screams "we're just itching to institute martial law at gunpoint," so they really don't deserve the benefit of the doubt.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:21 PM on June 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Speaking of design, check out that "just joking around! no seriously!" Kekistan flag side by side with the Nazi flag. It's literally just the Nazi flag turned green, with a bunch of KKKKs in it.
posted by msalt at 1:39 PM on June 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

A belated comment, in response to something way upthread:

Also, if people want more Perspectives From An Old, another really bad thing to do is to throw militant people under the bus just because they're militant.

I marched in one of the protest marches in New York City during the Republican National Convention, and right when I was just passing by Madison Square Garden, a gang of people in the crowd about 20 feet behind me started a bonfire in the middle of the crowd with flames that leapt 20 feet high, and I was nearly smushed between the people fleeing the fire in one direction and the flying wedge of riot cops coming in the other direction and had to flee for my life down 34th street and take shelter on the stoop at Macy's.

I have no compunction about refraining from throwing militant people under the bus, but I'd really like them to do something for me too and, y'know, not do stuff like that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:21 PM on June 5, 2017 [8 favorites]

Some have mentioned the history of Portland's punks vs. skinhead fights in the 1980s and 1990s above already. I'm working on a journalistic story about the topic; if you'd like to share a personal experience please memail me. Thx!
posted by msalt at 12:53 AM on June 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

This piece has what looks like a photo of one of the "assists".
posted by corb at 1:42 AM on June 6, 2017 [8 favorites]

Portland's police Chief Marshman was trying to justify that on the public radio station today, saying that "private citizens often help officers detain suspects" or something to that effect.

"How market forces and bias displaced African Americans in Portland" A long form web article by a TV station, of all things.
posted by msalt at 3:12 PM on June 6, 2017

I mean, yes. Private citizens do often help the police in a variety of ways. But who the police choose to allow to help them is relevant.

Does anyone, anyone at all, even that police captain, seriously think that if an antifa dude was like "Hey cop, can I reach behind your back and grab your handcuffs to help you arrest this Proud Boy", that the cop would have been like, "No problemo, gentle citizen! I totally trust you and don't fear you are going for my gun!"
posted by corb at 3:15 PM on June 6, 2017 [12 favorites]

Absolutely. It's a ridiculous position to take in this instance.
posted by msalt at 3:32 PM on June 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Feds Are Reviewing Right Wing Militia Member's Assistance With Cops Making Arrest
"There’s not really a PPB policy about this kind of thing but as a practice, we’d prefer not to have private citizen involvement in an arrest but there have been times where private security (think bar bouncers, loss prevention, etc) have jumped in to assist an officer struggling with a suspect."
posted by OverlappingElvis at 9:04 AM on June 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

It's not clear from the pull quote, but the militia/cop thing involved FPS (Homeland Security) officers, not PPB.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 9:11 AM on June 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

So Trumptroopers, basically?
posted by Artw at 9:13 AM on June 7, 2017

Five bucks says "Feds are reviewing" means "we are tired of hearing your complaints about this, but we aren't actually going to stop doing this."
posted by corb at 9:22 AM on June 7, 2017 [8 favorites]

I can't believe how absolutely BRAZEN and OBVIOUS the DHS is about collaborating with neo-Nazis. Like you'd think they'd at least make the appearence of not being in cahoots (as they've done in the past).
posted by Yowser at 10:01 AM on June 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

Do we call the US Attorney Office? A militia member assisting a federal official in an arrest is giving me the brain screams.
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 4:33 PM on June 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

So, who's planning on coming out for the counter-protests this weekend? Mr. Palmcorder and I are going to be at the one here in Seattle.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 9:53 PM on June 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

There's not going to be one in Portland, since it relocated up to you folks, right? Enjoy!
posted by msalt at 1:34 AM on June 9, 2017

Best sign.
posted by Artw at 3:11 PM on June 10, 2017 [4 favorites]

@amyharvard Oath Keepers-NY VP Frank Morganthaler had heart attack after making anti-sharia speech. He died after EMT took him.
posted by Artw at 3:20 PM on June 10, 2017

May he go to his Heaven and I to mine.
posted by Etrigan at 3:26 PM on June 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

@amyharvard Oath Keepers-NY VP Frank Morganthaler had heart attack after making anti-sharia speech. He died after EMT took him.

"Sorry, that paged doesn't exist"--she took it down because there are conflicting reports that he didn't die.

(and it's @amyharvard_--the user without the underscore is not the user we are looking for)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:41 PM on June 10, 2017

No, it's really bad if he died at the march, because then they'll have a martyr and be like "because of antifa stress."
posted by corb at 5:03 PM on June 10, 2017

But then every time they brought that up it would be hilarious.
posted by Artw at 5:03 PM on June 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

There were seven arrests at the MPLS one, but I don't know whether it was just antifa or also alt-right. Irritatingly, I have a trivial-when-seated-or-lying-down yet-can't-be-standing-in-the-sun-for-protracted-periods stupid irritating health problem and could not go even though I basically planned my whole day around going.

Incredibly, the racist protesters were allowed to have their rally inside the capitol building, a thing I would never have believed, and I will be calling the governor's office on Monday, you bet. How can they let people have a rally in the capitol building itself against our fellow Minnesotans? What's next, the Klan gets to meet there all hooded up?

Garbage out-staters coming here trying to tell me how to feel about my fellow Minneapolitans - they only rally at the capitol either because they're not from here and don't know anywhere else to go or because they're afraid they'd get torn apart if they had it anywhere else. (The capitol building here is pretty isolated - it's on the outskirts of downtown, sort of, but it's blocks and blocks away. So you can have a very big crowd at the capitol building that is basically invisible anywhere else. White supremacists almost always rally there, whereas it's very unusual for any smaller event that isn't specifically about a legislative session to happen there - everyone else always goes to downtown, or various places in MPLS.

OTOH, at least they didn't try to march through a substantially Muslim area - although again, I'm not sure whether that's cowardice or ignorance. But they'd need a shit-ton more cops to march through Cedar Riverside or the Muslim part of Phillips.

Ugh, I really regret not going, but the sickness prevailed.
posted by Frowner at 5:37 PM on June 10, 2017 [8 favorites]

Frowner, I don't know the full figures but I saw at least one of the seven was an alt-right dude in a bullet proof vest.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:55 PM on June 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

From an antifa acquaintance in Seattle:
"The action in Seattle today confirmed a lot of what I already knew, but I still had been too optimistic it seems. SPD is not that different from PPB and today seemed like an echo from the Portland shit-show last week.

SPD were to form a barrier between ACT for America and the motley crew of leftists, community leaders, veterans for peace, and most importantly, the Muslim coalition that made up the counter-protestors. SPD wielding riot gear, facing us, their backs turned against bigots, many openly carrying weapons. They eventually just left our space open - tensions rose as Proud Boys, Three Percenters, and neo-Crusaders came to assert their mix of macho posturing and hate speech, a festering wound in the mayonnaise under-crust of American society.

The counter-protestors peacefully turned to return back to Occidental Square, where they had a permit to rally in for the day. The bigots attempted to intercept our procession but were stopped by the SPD barrier that followed alongside us. The police once again cordoned off the perimeter once we arrived at Occidental Square, again, facing us. They eventually let some Proud Boys in, with their fists flailing. After organizers rightfully defended themselves by forcing them out of the rally, SPD pepper sprayed and threw their bikes at us. Three of our organizers were arrested. None of the bigots were, as they mocked us from the safety behind the police officers' backs.

I sound like a broken record, but our "public servants" have clearly drawn a line in the sand and taken a side. What do we do?"
posted by corb at 6:13 PM on June 10, 2017 [13 favorites]

Yeah, nobody should be surprised by that from SPD.
posted by Artw at 6:18 PM on June 10, 2017 [4 favorites]

At the Boston Common rally, I noticed that the police had surrounded both Antifa and the fash, rather than forming a line between them.

Not sure exactly what all had gone down, but the consequence was that (fortunately) there weren't many bystanders either getting involved directly (a problem last month, when an un-masked person standing on the antifa hill was punched by a Proud Boy) or, even more fortunately, able to hear or see much of the fash propaganda.

The unfortunate part being that cops don't surround people like that unless they intend to start making arrests. However, the one news article I can find doesn't mention any.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:26 PM on June 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

We left the Seattle counter-protest just before things got nasty, but I've gotta say, I am stunned that none of the ACT people got arrested. During their rally, several of those shit-gibbons were bouncing along the cordon, yelling, and jabbing their fingers at people, trying to find someone among the counter-protesters who was willing to fight. (And from what I saw, they got no takers.)

I'm stunned, but sad to say, I'm not surprised. Bleh.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:18 PM on June 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Is it helpful for those of us who don't live in the area to contact the local politicians, police chief, and media? Or will they just dismiss us as irrelevant?
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 10:34 AM on June 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Local politicians and media all know what the SPD is like, and the SPD doesn't pay any attention to them.
posted by Artw at 11:57 AM on June 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Is it helpful for those of us who don't live in the area to contact the local politicians, police chief, and media? Or will they just dismiss us as irrelevant?

If you have any role in determining where your company places offices or goes for conferences or getaways or whatever, don't go there. Send politicians a letter saying "We're not coming here specifically because of this.", and cc it to every local media outlet.
posted by Etrigan at 12:15 PM on June 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

Oregon white supremacist expert explains the changing landscape of hate groups
The big shift has been the role that the Internet has played. It used to be a physical place where you had a meeting. The Volksfront had regular bars they would hang out in in Southeast Portland. The anti-racist skinheads would have meetings.

We had a couple of small groups who were connected to neo-Nazi ideology. But the alt-right creates this space on Reddit and fourchan, even on Twitter, to express their positions to recruit other people and advance their ideology online.

They completely disappeared off the streets. All of a sudden, my little skinheads, the people I'm charged to keep track of, were just gone gone gone.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:05 PM on June 14, 2017 [5 favorites]

My husband and I took our kids to Portland's Juneteenth parade today. It's a lightly attended event, and most of the viewers and nearly all of the participants are black. As we waited for the parade to start, a man showed up in the parking lot near where we stood: stocky white guy, cowboy hat, leather vest, pacing a lot. All my mental alarm bells went off. I was preparing myself for him to yell inappropriate things, or to get violent. I told my husband, that if the guy went to his car, I was going to talk to one of the motorcycle cops. Ultimately, nothing happened, but his presence was so unsettling. A community event happening in the same neighborhood next weekend has recieved racist threats, and a public school had to postpone their school carnival for the same reason, so I don't think I was over-reacting to keep an eye on him. My family and I are white, so I wasn't thinking we'd be targeted, I just felt I needed to be ready to act if he started something. Hoping next weekend's event is undisturbed.
posted by terooot at 10:44 PM on June 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm not betting on it - this is getting passed around, Portland antifa is saying the guy on it that seemed to be fistfighting (and ultimately got choked) at Pride is Joey Gibson. I didn't see any newspaper articles, so I'm wondering if this is just the new normal now and these guys are going to be everywhere? Is this what it was like in the 60s?
posted by corb at 12:55 PM on June 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

You're right, no news on this that I could find anywhere, even on blogs. I doubt Gibson will continue to show up like this, when he gets no news coverage, no one is arrested and he gets fisticuffal response from Antifa.

Police and news media are acting like baseketball referees who decide to "let them play."
posted by msalt at 2:01 PM on June 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

Oh lmao we were there. Those loudmouth street preacher idiots are always there. Always have been. They love coming out to scream at LGBT people doing anything fun, and the only difference is people are a little fightier now. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence put up a big rainbow screen blocking their dumbass signs.
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 8:30 PM on June 18, 2017 [7 favorites]

Super interesting POC teach-in happening all day on XRAY FM today. I especially enjoyed hearing Jo Ann Hardesty, Portland's NAACP president, and her guests talking about the upcoming Good In the Hood celebration, organizing among the black community, and police-community relations here. I can't tell if it will be available later online, but they usually archive their regular programs.
posted by terooot at 1:25 PM on June 19, 2017 [3 favorites]

XRAY FM (107.1 in Portland) is pretty awesome, musically as well as socially and politically.
posted by msalt at 10:05 AM on June 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

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