Portland Dispatch March 22: Velvet Fisting

“But he’s so sweet after…”

Antifa has been targeting Portland’s Pearl District for the sin of gentrification, and recently redoubled their efforts after residents complained about being targeted and about subsequent police inaction. The Portland Police Bureau cited shootings–which of course are way up due to police defunding–elsewhere in the city as the reason one rampage went mostly uncontested. On March 12 antifa returned to assail an upscale apartment building, as if to send a warning to their opposition in the Pearl District Neighborhood Association.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The police responded this time by detaining about a hundred and arresting anyone who refused to have their picture taken. Two arrests were made and the usual cache of weapons was confiscated. Residents came out to film and argued with furious antifa. This was an escalation in tactics for the police. In response the ACLU, CAIR and others resumed their legal campaign against the practice of corralling rioters police used that night, or “kettling”. They were unsuccessful in January in getting a federal judge to outlaw it. They’ve been trying to have the practice banned since at least 2015. With the arrival of the new administration in DC they presumably face better prospects. Compliant federal judges have already banned police use of teargas and recently placed new restrictions on the use of compressed air FN303 riot control weapons.

On Saturday night one antifa faction changed tactics and showed up to pass out flyers and clean windows.

One person handed out political fliers along with bottles of Windex and rags to clean windows as others urged those among the crowd of about 100 demonstrators Saturday night not to do any damage while they marched through the Pearl District.

The early tenor of the rally was in marked contrast to recent weekends when people blocked streets, set fires, shattered windows, tagged buildings and clashed with police in the Northwest Portland neighborhood.

Whether anyone’s fooled by this remains to be seen. Media coverage is mostly credulous, of course. I’m reminded of the cliché of an abusive husband buying flowers for a freshly beaten wife. The anarchist community on social media is convulsed, with most opposing the good antifa/bad antifa schtick.

KOIN 6 News

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Antifa uses the term “mutual aid” to describe its various support operations such as street medics, food distribution and bail relief. They occasionally make a show of something like feeding the homeless; last year they took advantage of a spate of wildfires to hand out water and the like somewhere, with much fanfare. These actions are what they would describe, negatively, as “highly performative” if done by their enemies; often they accompany or come on the heels of violent actions–going out to wash windows they were breaking the week before seems like a parody of the practice.

The term was coined by seminal anarchist and naturalist Prince Peter Kropotkin in a 1902 essay arguing against social Darwinism. Citing the behavior of animals to sacrifice for the survival of the herd, Kropotkin held that in the absence of such as state authority humans would naturally take upon themselves its legitimate roles absent coercion. “We take care of us” is a common antifa slogan. The makeshift ambulances that followed rioters into the action here last summer are part of this–the idea is to delegitimize authority first by drawing the police into a violent response, and then to rush in with their own “medics”, to make as if they’re the rational party dealing with inexplicable violence. It’s like Kropotkin’s vision of mutual aid replacing the state and law, sped up and on acid.

The phrase headlined a recent LA Times about a group assisting illegals in getting government benefits: “Where there is great need, mutual aid groups feed L.A.” Expect to see more of it as the terminology of anarchism becomes more mainstream.

In the Zone

Portland is considering changing its zoning laws to accommodate the increasing homeless population

The one thing most people seemed to agree on was that an extension of Portland’s housing emergency—declared in 2015 and currently set to expire April 4—is needed, with many stating how the COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened the housing crisis…

The current proposal would expand city zoning to make it easier for nonprofits, property owners and government agencies to open shelters in more areas throughout the city. It would also allow a single RV or tiny home to reside on a residential property.

It would also expand open space to allow temporary shelters—that is, tent camping—in places like city parks and golf courses. Additionally, it would permit the temporary use of community buildings without the need to declare an emergency.

Straights v Gays

A Pentecostal Church in Sandy Oregon held a “Celebrating The Natural Heterosexual Family” rally on Saturday and was met with a larger “Have a Gay Day” counter-demonstration. The Proud Boys showed up, giving the counter-demonstrators the opportunity to feel “unsafe”.

On the north side of the city’s main street: a Pentecostal church rally “to celebrate the natural heterosexual family,” ringed by the distinctive yellow collars of the Proud Boys. On the south sidewalk: the town’s LGBTQ community, gathered with rainbow flags and face masks for a parking-lot party dubbed “Have a Gay Day!”

The March 20 events were noteworthy because they marked the first Oregon appearance of the Proud Boys, a far-right men’s fraternity, since the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

But the rainy afternoon also showcased the cultural tensions in Sandy, the Clackamas County gateway to Mount Hood skiing that for much of the past year has defined itself in opposition to Portland values—from closing restaurants to prevent COVID spread to toppling statues in racial justice protests. Saturday’s events, while peaceful, suggested Sandy, like many places in Oregon, is still arguing over what its own values will be.

The progressive left in Oregon has been trying to make inroads in rural areas with such as the Rural Democracy Initiative and Keith Ellison’s Rural Engagement Strategy. There’s a program here that recruits from the growing rural Latino population in high schools.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: