Federal crackdown in Portland provokes solidarity protests across the country

“This is my first protest,” said a 45-year-old woman who joined the “Wall of Moms” at a Saturday demonstration in Seattle.

by Jessica Corbett, staff writer

Saturday, July 26

People took to the streets in communities across the United States on Saturday in solidarity with ongoing protests against police brutality in Portland, Oregon that have been met with a forceful and widely criticized response from federal agents deployed by President Donald Trump, who has said he will send teams to other major U.S. cities.

Early Saturday evening, speakers at the Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in Oakland, California delivered remarks about systemic racism, police misconduct, and racial injustice before the crowd marched past murals of Black Americans killed by law enforcement to the city’s police headquarters, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Addressing the conditions in Portland, Amelia Clute, one of the speakers, said that “to have that type of free speech responded to with literal force by the federal government is something that’s really being downplayed by a lot of news sources… We can’t lose track of how serious and grave of a situation that could turn into: The beginnings of true fascism.”

Hours after the speeches and peaceful march in Oakland, a fire was set at the courthouse and windows were smashed and messages were spray-painted on walls at the police station, the Chronicle reported. Police declared an unlawful assembly just before midnight and arrested several people.

In Seattle—where Trump earlier this week sent a team of tactical border officers to stand by for duty—thousands of people marched through Capitol Hill and the Central District, some wearing yellow arm bands in reference to the “Wall of Moms” in Portland who have tried to protect protesters from federal agents.

According to the Seattle Times:

Kathryn, a protester Saturday who declined to give her last name, said the presence of federal agents in Seattle was “100%” of why she was there. The 45-year-old mother of two had joined the demonstration as a part of the “Wall of Moms,” a feature also present at the Portland protests.

“This is my first protest,” Kathryn said. “This is an absolute abnegation of federal power.”

The newspaper noted that the march followed a Friday night ruling from a federal court that temporarily blocked the city’s new law “banning police from using tear gas, flash-bang devices, and other crowd-control weapons.” Police declared a “riot” near the East Precinct on Capitol Hill Saturday afternoon, deployed flash-bang grenades and pepper spray on protesters at multiple locations, and made several arrests.

Other protests against police violence and in solidarity with Portland were held everywhere from Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City to Omaha, Nebraska and Austin, Texas—where a demonstrator identified by family as Garrett Foster was fatally shot Saturday night by man who was driving through a crowd after Foster reportedly approached the car with a weapon.

In Aurora, Colorado, where demonstrators marched to demand accountability for the death of Elijah McClain, an unarmed Black man who died in the custody of local police last year, a vehicle drove through the crowd. A protester responded by firing a weapon, injuring at least one other person, according to the Aurora Police Department, which is investigating the incident.

Participants and reporters shared updates and footage from protests throughout the country on social media:

According to the New York Times:

Protesters in several cities said the smoke-filled videos of federal agents firing tear gas and shoving protesters in Portland had brought them to the streets on Saturday.

“Portland is leading,” said Chantelle Hershberger, an organizer with Refuse Fascism who was part of the Los Angeles activists protesting the presence of federal agents in Portland, where city officials have opposed the presence of the federal officers. “They’re showing what it looks like to stay in the streets despite police oppression, despite the federal forces being sent in. This kind of energy is actually what’s needed.”

The federal crackdown continued into the early hours of Sunday, by which point “protesters had breached the reinforced fence around the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse in downtown Portland,” The Oregonian reported. “Federal agents deployed multiple rounds of tear gas, and Portland police shortly after declared the gathering a riot.”

All of that came after thousands of people had peacefully gathered in downtown Portland near the courthouse earlier Saturday, which marked two months since the Minneapolis police killed of George Floyd and sparked the protests against police violence toward people of color in the Oregon city and all around the world.

This article published by Common Dreams on July 26, 2020, here…

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