Oregon CPUSA: We stand with Portland protesters

BY: Oregon District CPUSA| July 21, 2020
Oregon CPUSA: We stand with Portland protesters


On day 54 of consecutive protesting in Portland, Oregon, two quotes come to mind:

There are decades where nothing happens and there are weeks where decades happen.
— Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

There are years that ask questions and years that answer.
— Zora Neale Hurston

For 100+ years the CPUSA has had the struggle for racial justice and equity as a founding principle. In many ways, this moment and this struggle is no different from what we have been facing for decades. In other ways, it is unprecedented.

Oregon CPUSA is proud to stand in solidarity with the groundswell of protesters flooding the streets of Portland each night.

While we assert the protests themselves are predominantly peaceful, we do not want to make distinctions between “good” and “bad” protesters. In any crowd of 400 people, there will be provocateurs and individual bad actors. But as Trump has declared all antifascists terrorists and shown his willingness to send Homeland Security forces as his own secret police to kidnap, assault, and intimidate citizens (as is currently happening in our city), we must stand unified in defending the right to due process and freedom of assembly for all peoples.

Right-wing media pundits have suggested that the protesters are divided in their demands or “unsure what they are protesting.” This is not true. The demand to defund the police, justice for the families, and victims of police brutality and murder is central. However, institutional racism is intersectional. The school-to-prison pipeline, violence against black trans folks, COVID-19 in our prisons, unemployment, looming evictions—all disproportionately affect Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) even in a place sometimes called the whitest city in America.

Oregon is a microcosm of America. Like America, racism and exploitation are woven into its beginnings. Oregon was founded as a whites-only state. We cannot heal from wounds we do not acknowledge. White supremacists continue to try to gain or maintain a foothold in Oregon, including in the Portland Police Bureau (PPB).

Oregonians must ask themselves what they are willing to do to protect each other. This protest (two months and going strong) is one such example. Other examples: the fatal attack on a Portland Max train on May 26, 2017, in which three passengers were stabbed for stepping between a white nationalist and two black teenage girls he was verbally assaulting. One victim stepped directly from testifying at his sentencing (June 23, 2020) to speak at the BLM protest. The #WallOfMoms pregnant women and young mothers linking arms to surround protesters. The Navy vet who stands unmoving while being beaten with a baton (hand broken) asking the officers to remember their oath to the Constitution. Every day brings new images of our collective resilience and resolution.

Governor Kate Brown and Mayor Ted Wheeler have banned the PPB from using tear gas or from cooperating or collaborating with the federal forces. The police have largely ignored this. In response:

  • The activist group Don’t Shoot Portland has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Portland residents.
  • SEIU rank and file are circulating a petition demanding that the SEIU disaffiliate its police unions.
  • Portland’s first black female councilwoman Jo Ann Hardesty is demanding that the mayor control the police.

What Trump sees in Portland is an opportunity to rally his racist base and win tough-guy points prior to the November election. Repetition of the phrase “violent anarchists” is akin to red scare tactics. The definition of vandalism has been expanded beyond tagging buildings with defiant art and slogans to include chalking the sidewalk. But the Trump administration is right to be terrified of the protests.

We the protesters, we the people, are committed to staying in community and providing mutual aid, free food, education, art, support, and strategies. The protests will continue until meaningful change occurs. The coalitions built during the protests will shape the future of Oregon.

This may be the year that answers the questions: If not now, when? If not us, who?

Image: Matthew Roth, Creative Commons (BY-NC 2.0).



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