The person in charge of our country and of federal law enforcement has shown utter contempt for human life for the three and a half long years he’s been in office. We’ve seen him order babies removed from nursing mothers and children put in cages at the border. We’ve seen him disrespecting the families of fallen soldiers and murdered civilians. We’ve seen him encourage white supremacists and hatemongers. We’ve seen him failing to take lifesaving actions to stem the COVID pandemic, disregarding medical advice and endangering communities with rallies and pressure to re-open. We should not be surprised that he is fueling upheaval in Portland by sending in federal officers, knowing that the City Council has no authority to control or expel them.
It’s hard to know what to say about people who encourage others to hate, that won’t add to giving them the attention they crave. It’s even worse when those perpetrating violence against Portlanders and further inciting unrest are federal officers sent by the person in charge of our country – a person who often acts more like a petulant child than a President. Sending in federal officers to an already-volatile situation seems calculated to magnify protests. The actions by federal officers last night are irresponsible and reprehensible. Donavan La Bella sustained a life-threatening injury while exercising his rights of free speech and assembly. Portlanders are right to be outraged.
Nearly four years ago, after the 2016 election, our community responded to the new reality by coming together to form Portland United Against Hate. Communities of color and allies, including the City Council, have worked to address the onslaught of assaults by the federal government, from providing legal representation for our neighbors threatened with deportation to standing strong when hate groups invade our city. Portlanders must unite against hate now, more than ever. We must be smarter than the hatemongers.
Since we can’t make the federal officers leave, they must become informed about our community. This past week, a Black woman who owns a beloved local business, Mimi’s Fresh Tees PDX, received an abhorrent racist letter filled with hate and death threats. Federal officers must read it. They must know that Portlanders have stepped up to support our Black neighbors. We reject white supremacy. We believe Black Lives Matter, and that peaceful demonstrations are necessary to support the movement. People who commit violent acts are not welcome here – whichever side of the confrontation line they occupy during the demonstrations. Those responsible must be brought to justice, whether they wear a badge or not.
The good people of Portland are united against hate.