Salmon Street in between 4th and 3rd Avenues is very rough during the day. Antifa hangers-on and homeless crazies predominate on the short block bordering what is in effect antifa occupied territory–Lownsdale Park across from the US District Court.
Homeless schizophrenics and the like are attracted to the camp with its free food and excitement. Ranters are pleased to have a somewhat captive audience, and can be seen inveigling, completely ignored, among the crowd.
I was in front of the federal courthouse on Sunday when I heard angry shouting. Nothing unusual here and now, but it persisted so I made my way over to the corner of Salmon to have a look. Someone was taunting someone over getting “knocked out”.
An older homeless man lay propped up on an elbow in the middle of the street surrounded by protesters. I think someone offered to get an antifa medic when he shouted defiantly.
“I want an ambulance. I want 911.”
A pair of women watched with me for a moment. I told them what I knew. A thirty-something nice liberal lady, clearly distressed but apologetic, pointed out the homeless man was a troublesome character who’d been clashing with people for days.
“He needs help.” I said like an idiot. “I mean, professional.”
She nodded under eyes arched in concern. I walked away thinking to myself, yes, help from, you know, police and paramedics.
Paramedics and police would normally have been on hand in ten minutes and would have handled the situation with the care and restraint determined by the terms of an Obama-era lawsuit and ensuing consent decree.
This after an investigation by race man Eric Holder’s Justice Department couldn’t contrive enough evidence for Jo Ann Hardesty and other local anti-cop activists to warrant a finding of racial bias. Certainly that wasn’t for lack of trying.
I was surprised and concerned to see an hour later from the other side of antifa-occupied Lownsdale Park the confrontation with the homeless man was still going on. Someone restrained from attacking him a scrawny kid who flailed away in the air furious, or pretending to be. The old guy had lost his pants I could see. Various people were shouting.
“Are they getting violent over there?” a big guy, a suburban dad with a tribal tattoo, had gotten out of his car, phone in hand.
“Yeah.” I said, restraining the urge to say “You appear normal. So am I.”
His wife pleaded with him to get in the car.
Another fellow, a stout biker/hipster type walking a muscular pit bull with huge spike collar–sympathies uncertain–got out his phone and, probably, called 911. The confrontation there had been going on almost an hour at this point. A bus was stopped for a time and I thought, stupidly, the driver would take the old guy away.
I ventured into the middle of Lownsdale and watched the standoff for a while, afraid to film in the midst of antifa and sympathizers, who own the park now by day as well as night as a result of their inspired redoubling in the face of the feds attempts to restore the city.
I went back to the sidewalk and headed north, thinking I’d come wide around to observe, maybe dare to film, when a wiped-out looking kid, tall with greasy locks and a nose ring that looked like it was fashioned out of a paper clip, approached.
“What’s this?” He asked, pointing to my hand, without hostility.
“It’s my selfie stick. I use it to take pictures and video.”
“Can I see it?”
Against my better judgement I handed it to him.
“I’m an artist.” With the stick he indicated a poster on the ground with a couple of letters and crude shapes. I rested my hands on my knees and made a show of appreciating it.
A spectral negro sidled up to us, his eyes between the mask and dark cap he wore took me in with that familiar black look: wide-eyed and wary. I took out a cigarette and gave one to the kid–who turned out to be 28, by his account. I offered one to the black; he took it wordlessly.
As I spent some ten minutes sitting on the sidewalk listening to the young man’s story, a homeless man standing nearby streamed a continual narrative to the oblivious stream of people passing by.
“…I was a real badass…”
As for the young man’s story , it was incoherent and probably a lie–his biker father didn’t want to be a hit-man for the Mob and left the life to raise a family. But he treated his son too harshly and scarred him. Doctors have told him he showed symptoms of schizophrenia, but he didn’t believe it. He’s an Indian he says, and practices Indian magic.
“…knew a guy, used to work out…”
A girl with a shaved head came over and gave instructions, something about keeping an eye out for something–I sat there invisible–and he assured her he would, but I think he forgot immediately after she left.
“…I’m a magician, motherfucker…” the homeless guy happens to say at some point.
“Yes, yes, we’ve established that.” The young man responded, smirking at me and rolling his eyes in the direction of the speaker.
I worried for a moment he might try to keep the selfie stick when I got up and brushed myself off, but he remained friendly.
“Good luck.” I said, shaking his hand, only later thinking of Covid.
I went to the standoff on Salmon, and joined a pair of sane-looking older Portlanders standng nearby watching with concern. No one was filming so I didn’t. The old guy still didn’t have his pants and bled from a cut over the eye.
“This is fucked up.” A man said. I nodded in agreement.
“People called 911. They won’t come here” he said. We were across and one street over from the police station.
A fat man in a late-model Cadillac, clothes and car sharing an Italian gangster aesthetic, shouted from the curb.
“Fuck him. He’s been giving people shit…fuck that bastard.”
“Yeah, yeah, anyway…it’s just fucked up” the other guy said.
The irony of it would no doubt be lost on antifa if they were paying attention to it. The old guy refused to leave the street, just as they do, and their response was to brutalize him and humiliate him–but not too much perhaps, certainly nothing he isn’t used to–and then to hand him over to the detested authorities. Eventually an ambulance and police unit extracted him after about two hours.