Here’s a recap of my two nights in Portland.
Hopefully it puts things into prospective and shines some light on what is happening here and across the country.
I arrived Thursday evening and went to Lownsdale Square. This where the long term protesters have setup tents to feed (@riotribs), clothe, and administer first aid to protesters.
They are supporting members of the community and providing services that are desperately needed.
On Thursday night the NAACP held an event at the Justice Center. This is a county building and NOT the federal building.
This area remained peaceful the two nights I was there.
Here we have the singing of the Black National Anthem early in the evening.
The crowd grew in size in front of the Justice Center each night between 8 and 11 pm.
When you see the large groups chanting and using lights on their cell phones, this is where and when it happens.
This was very peaceful both nights.
This video is from Thursday.
Eventually the events at the Justice Center end and the focus goes on the federal building across the street.
SW 3rd St is closed so its easy to walk a few feet to the fence.
At this point people who just wanted to attend the first event may leave and other people join.
Here is where it starts to go into cycle of escalating conflict between the sides.
Thursday there was very little interaction for a few hours. Protesters rattled the cage and shot fireworks off at an empty front which was retaliated against with flash bangs and gas.
This is where the fog of war literally comes in. Gas is everywhere near the fence. Its being sprayed indiscriminately along with pepper shot (it looks like paintball ammo).
It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, within 100 yards of the fence, you are no longer safe.
The first round of gas usually knocks out the less committed protesters and the seasoned and prepared people move to the front with shields and leaf blowers.
They have done this for weeks, they are prepared for what is coming.
Gas canisters get thrown back quickly.
At about 1am or so early Friday morning I decided it was time to go.
The feds are thinning out the protesters to a point where they can rush the streets and push everyone a few blocks away.
I’m not about to get cornered on a side road by myself so I leave.
Friday evening at 9pm (day 2).
I join a march that’s leading towards the federal building down Salmon.
There is a crowd already there but this is major reinforcements.
A Wall of Moms leads the parade into the protest area and instantly the seas part so they can march past the federal building towards the justice center.
It’s like the stars of the show have arrived. It reminded me of a boxer entering the ring.
People are already fired up.
The Moms move into position along the entire length of SW 3rd.
This group is directly in front of the justice center.
About half the protest is here and the other half is near the federal building.
Chants and speeches take place at the Justice Center and this is where we see another phone light display.
Like the night before, this is the calm before the storm.
I immediately make my way across the entire crowd back to SW Salmon.
Within minutes of the lights, gas is coming into the area behind the fence.
The Wall of Moms rush into the area to create a human barrier.
This is when you know it’s getting tense and something will happen immediately.
Within minutes flashbangs and smoke is lining the entire street.
The feds have started early tonight with little warning.
Waves of gas come and go. The feds are shooting pepper balls at near pointe blank range.
I circle over to the other end of the federal building to find walls of moms preparing for another wave of gas.
Blowers are pushing back gas that remains in the air.
Gas eventually comes again up and down the street. On Friday they used much more dense and powerful gas.
Flashbangs and gas continues.
This is where one comes close and reminds me that I need a clear exit if they keep coming.
The feds keep firing into the crowd indiscriminately from behind the fence.
This has been going on for a few hours so the crowd has thinned considerably.
A protester was shot with a projectile and is dragged away as people call for medics.
While being treated, they are fired on with pepper rounds.
At this point there are not many targets and the feds seem like they are ready to push out behind the fence.
It’s time for me to leave again because the streets are about to be sweeped.
My instincts are right as I hear loud bangs shortly after leaving.
This was an unplanned and short trip to help draw attention to it.
I flew back home today.
At no time did I participate in any violence or destruction of property.
I was strictly an observer.
DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.