Portland Protests Attain 100 Consecutive Days This Weekend – NBC Los Angeles

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Portland Protests Reach 100 Consecutive Days This Weekend – NBC Los Angeles

Once hailed as one of the most livable cities in the United States, Portland, Oregon has to contend with an uncertain future as it reaches a staggering scale: 100 consecutive nights of protests against racial injustices ranging from vandalism, mayhem and the murder of a supporter President Donald coined are trump cards.

The demonstrations, which began in late May after the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, have divided residents and embarrassed the beleaguered Democratic mayor of the city.

They have also made Oregon's largest city a centerpiece of Trump's law and order campaign theme, even when activists beat the police up for aggressive tactics.

The assassination of the right-wing Trump supporter, who was shot after coming downtown in a pro-Trump caravan of pickups last weekend, pushed the crisis further to a breaking point. The prime suspect in the shooting, self-described anti-fascist Michael Forest Reinoehl, was killed by law enforcement agencies on Thursday evening.

In the midst of the turmoil, Portland now finds itself as the proxy for the culture wars that are invading the nation.

The exact date of the 100-day milestone will depend on how the protests are counted, but everyone agrees that the benchmark will fall on Labor Day weekend. Protests, vigils and speeches to mark the occasion are scheduled over three days, and Trump supporters are planning another caravan rally.

The events come after suburban borough officials rejected a call by Democratic Governor Kate Brown to assist her MPs with the Portland Police Department after last weekend's violence.

"The worst case scenario is that there is another incident that causes so much that the city simply cannot survive it well," said Ron Louie, former Portland suburban police chief, author of a crisis negotiation book and current professor at Portland State University.

And Trump has stepped up threats to send US agents back to the city, as his administration did in July – when agents trying to stop attacks on a federal court and other US property only resuscitated protesters.

Thousands of protesters turned out each evening, and some hurled fireworks, stones, bearings and bottles at the agents. They responded with huge plumes of tear gas, rubber bullets and lightning grenades, which created chaotic scenes similar to war zones.

Federal officials dispatched to Portland, Oregon by the Trump administration to crack down on protests have behaved in unpredictable ways, causing confusion and fear in the city, said Celina Tebor, an Oregon reporter. But she said the protests only seem to have been revived by her presence.

Those clashes ended on July 31 when the State Police took over US agents under an agreement brokered by Brown and the US Department of Homeland Security. But minor protests continued, with groups of 100 to 200 people marching each night. Clashes are common.

The protesters want city officials to cut the police budget and allocate the money to black residents and businesses. Some protesters are calling for the resignation of Mayor Ted Wheeler, a white man and a member of a timber company.

During the clashes, some windows were broken, small fires started, police car tires pierced with spikes, lasers shone in the officers' eyes and pelted with stones and frozen water bottles.

The tension reached a new high last weekend when the pro-Trump caravan drove downtown. Some protesters shot paintballs and sprayed bear repellants on Black Lives Matter protesters who tried to block the streets.

Fistfights broke out and as night fell, 39-year-old Trump supporter Aaron "Jay" Danielson was fatally shot while walking on a sidewalk. Reinoehl, the suspected gunman, was killed late Thursday by a law enforcement group scheduled to arrest him outside of Lacey, Washington.

After Danielson's murder, Brown sent state police back to town to help local police. These soldiers were used as federal law enforcement officers by the U.S. Marshal Service, meaning protesters arrested by state troops far away from federal property could now be prosecuted by the U.S. government.

The move appears to be a way of bypassing the newly elected local Portland prosecutor who has dismissed hundreds of cases against protesters arrested for low-level nonviolent crimes.

Meanwhile, Wheeler is politically sandwiched between Trump and local business owners who want order restoration and left-wing groups who are demanding his resignation for failing to keep the local police under control.

A video of an officer pursuing and attacking a protester and slapping him repeatedly in the face this week calls for greater police accountability.

Wheeler announced this week that he would be moving out of his upscale apartment building after protesters broke windows and started fires there, terrifying his neighbors.

“These acts of violence distract us. And they have to stop, ”said Wheeler on Facebook.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler accused the Trump administration of kicking a hornet's nest in this New York Times report when he was recently gassed in tears along with other protesters.

Amid escalating tensions, the voices of the city's black residents are lost as they disagree on how best to keep the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement alive.

Some credit the protests for continuing to put pressure on elected officials to crack down on systemic racism, while recognizing that vandalism and violence by a small group of protesters detracts from the movement's message.

"It's a necessary place to be," said Shanice Clarke, a founder of the Black Millennial Movement. "I think the whole idea of ​​people putting their bodies on the line is a pretty powerful act – and a necessary one – especially when that tactic is sometimes the only one available to people like me."

Others say street activism – and violence in particular – diverts attention from other pressing issues affecting the black community.

An increase in gun violence and killings disproportionately struck the black community this summer, and police say they are so thin that they don't have time to conduct proper investigations – or even respond to routine calls.

The July shootings hit a 30-year high and nearly two-thirds of the victims were black.

Police chief Chuck Lovell, who is black, said the death of a 16-year-old black boy in a park in recent days has been drowned out by national media attention over the murder of the Trump supporter.

"Portland desperately needs rest," said Lovell.

Behind the scenes, progress toward racial justice has been calm.

A coalition called Reimagine Oregon has put forward nationwide proposals to end systemic racism in everything from access to housing to education to policing. Brown signed a law this week expanding nationwide restrictions on the use of force by police.

State lawmakers last month approved a fund to fund black-owned businesses and community organizations that was launched with $ 62 million in federal coronavirus aid.

And Portland City Council in June allocated nearly $ 16 million from its police budget to community programs that focus on the needs of people of color by eliminating a dedicated gun violence task force and school officials in three city school districts.

Protester Shane Braswell, who has participated in at least 60 demonstrations in Portland, said that those who oppose or are indifferent to the goals of Black Lives Matter "need to wake up and understand that we are going to make progress in both directions".

"You can either be by our side and move with us, or you will be left behind at some point," he said.

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