A massive police presence in Portland, Oregon, last night was said to deter Black Lives Matter protesters and right-wing Proud Boys demonstrators from violent confrontation yesterday in the city.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown, seemingly panicked, declared a state of emergency and issued orders for a joint command of state, local, and county police. This would allow the police to use tear gas on the “white supremacist” Proud Boys. Police had been banned from using tear gas during Black Lives Matter protests.
“We have seen what happens when armed vigilantes take matters into their own hands. We’ve seen it in Charlottesville, we’ve seen it in Kenosha and, unfortunately, we have even seen it here in Portland,” the governor said, referring to deaths following political clashes in Virginia, Wisconsin and Oregon.
“Let me be perfectly clear, we will not tolerate any kind of violence this weekend,” she said. “Those stoking the flames of violence, those coming to Portland looking for a fight will be held accountable.”
Apparently, there’s a difference between Black Lives Matter activists trashing the city and right-wing groups gathering in counter-protest. The governor only wants far-left rioters to destroy Portland.
The Proud Boys protests during the day were sparsely attended. NBC claims only 200 showed up while The Oregonian says as many as 800 were there.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers positioned themselves strategically Saturday to keep the groups apart, after Brown handed over joint police command to state and county forces for the weekend. Most neighboring stores and restaurants closed before the Proud Boys gathered at Delta Park.
A larger demonstration of at least 1,000 people opposing the Proud Boys took place at Peninsula Park, three miles away in North Portland.
The opposing crowds never converged or clashed with police, who saturated North Portland as promised. State police said officers made multiple traffic stops near the protests, and someone threw a rock at a trooper’s car, shattering the driver’s side window.
There was a smaller Black Lives Matter protest later that night where demonstrators set a few fires before police rushed in. No arrests were made at the demonstrations, although three Proud Boys attendees were arrested during a traffic check in the area.
In the end, much ado about nothing.
What’s telling was the response of Governor Brown and local authorities. Their gross overreaction to a couple hundred citizens exercising their constitutional rights was inexplicable, so they had to create a threat where none existed in order to justify their actions. Also interesting was the reaction of Portland’s timid Mayor Ted Wheeler who promised to throw the book at violent right-wing demonstrators.
“We will do everything possible to hold those who break the law accountable,” Wheeler said. “Violence is not welcome in Portland.”
It makes you wonder why he wasn’t so brave when Black Lives Matter rioters were burning police precincts and threatening federal property.
The Oregonian tried a little political editorializing in this “news” story on the protests.
The lack of ugly confrontations, at least until 9:15 p.m., denied President Donald Trump the opportunity and video footage he has made much of to underscore one of his campaign themes: Big cities run by Democrats are violent, lawless places where police stand-downs let anti-fascists run roughshod. The late-night crowd converged near the federal courthouse as has been the case throughout the summer as police declared the gathering an “unlawful assembly” around 11:40 p.m.
First of all, Trump doesn’t need any more video footage of riots in Portland. He already has plenty, thank you. Secondly, without a massive police presence in front of the federal courthouse, how long would that building remain standing?
Media bias aside, the Proud Boys had little choice but to remain peaceful as both sides were kept far apart. Now, the next time a cop anywhere in the United States has the misfortune of gunning down a black person who may or may not have been armed, the Portland authorities know exactly what to do, right?