Portland is one of the most liberal major cities in the country. We’re known for hipsters, modern art, coffee and craft beer. Oregon has the first openly gay Governor. We’re very much an arts-focused city.
However, when you live here as a minority and pull back our liberal facade, the ugly beast White Supremacy rears its head in our city. Over 75% of our city is white, so it comes as no surprise that the forces in our city exist primarily to protect whiteness. As such, the Rose City Antifa is one of the hardest working Anti-fascist organizations in the country.
Currently an assault is being waged on our community by the Portland-based white supremacist organization, Patriot Prayer, let by the prominent white nationalist, Joey Gibson. Today, a rally is being held by Patriot Prayer partnered with the Proud Boys. While Patriot Prayer has claimed that they are not a violent organization, attending one of their rallies or watching a video of the events, makes the notion laughable. At the rally held in 2017, videos were recorded of far right protesters beating antifascists.
Riana Goren, analyst with the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, told Huffington Post that “For weeks, members of both groups have been talking about the event online and commenting on how much they are looking forward to ‘defending freedom’ and confronting ‘communist’ counter-protesters.”
One of the biggest attacks on our city happened today, where anti-fascist and anti-racist forces not only had to deal with violence from Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys, but also from our own police force. Rose City Antifa reports that cops are only targeting counter protesters. On their Facebook page they state: “Police are attacking antifascist protestors, charging in and taking banners. Reports of rubber bullets. Arrests being made.” You can donate to their general defense and medical fund here.
Violent attacks by white supremacists, as well as by law enforcement, are hardly isolated events. In May 2017, a man made national news after stabbing three people on a MAX in a racially motivated attack. The three men attacked intervened when a Muslim woman wearing hijab was harassed and threatened by white supremacist, Jeremy Joseph Christian. This is the same max that I, and many other Portland area residents, take all the time.
Recently, on the same day of my college tour at Portland State University, armed campus police shot and killed a black man, Jason Washington, who was trying to break up a fight. Following the shooting, the officers were put on paid administrative leave. The next weekend, students held a rally to disarm PSU campus officers.
“Everyone who has expressed dissent over the years to the armament of (Campus Public Safety Office) and creation of a police force knew that one day this decision would result in deadly violence, and we know that it will continue to happen so long as campus security remain a deputized and armed police force,” stated the Portland State University Student Union through their Facebook page. “There’s no way around it — this is how policing works.”
The ICE protests lasted weeks, as our city is one of the cites for this atrocious and heartless organization. Anti-ICE activists camped out along the street during the Occupy ICE protests. While mayor Ted Wheeler claimed he supported the cause, he has since called for the protest to disband. Two days later, police started to clear protesters.
Thing aren’t all bad in Portland however. Despite ongoing assaults from the far right, Portland Residents are fighting back. Some of the organizations doing awesome work in Portland include Rose City Antifa, Black Lives Matter Portland, Portland Solidarity Network, Portland Jobs With Justice and Don’t Shoot Portland (the founder of which is running for mayor in 2020.) We even have wonderful youth-focused organizations doing great work in Portland such as Marrow PDX, LGBT youth organization SMYRC and Clackamas-area queer youth organization the Living Room.
Ultimately, Portland is the home of strong individuals including people of color who don’t take mistreatment lying down, women who take control of their own rights, youth who are stepping up to the plate to help create the future, LGBT+ people who are unashamed of who they are and allies who use their privilege for good. In Portland, we fight back.