Anarchy in the MLK
An estimated 30-40 people, mostly white, out of a crowd of 200 vandalized buildings and businesses and set things afire on late Thursday night around NE MLK Blvd and Killingsworth Street.
As workers used power-washers to rid the outer walls at Portland’s North Precinct of vulgar and derogatory graffiti tags against police, members of Portland’s Black community stood with the city’s police chief outside the building Friday to decry the vandalism, barricading of precinct doors and setting of a nearby fire the night before.
Chief Chuck Lovell called the actions “not only reprehensible, but they’re evil, ‘’ emphasizing that people were inside the precinct when vandals blocked side doors by nailing wooden beams across them, and then pushed a dumpster, from which flames were shooting out, along the west side of the building.
“It needs to stop, and it needs to stop today,‘’ Lovell said.
Other Black leaders in the community called the criminal activity the work of “terrorists,‘’ “delinquents,‘’ and the “act of a coward.‘’ They blasted those responsible for undermining the Black Lives Movement and causing damage to Black-owned businesses in an area where the Black community has struggled to maintain its historical hold. Mayor Ted Wheeler called the destruction “a horrible, horrendous miscalculation.‘’
“Horrendous miscalculation” is the nicest phrase I’ve ever heard used to describe terrorism, vandalism, arson, and attempted murder.
It’s been a month since five hours of upheaval descended on downtown Portland and the collective shock generated by the looting and arson of the May 30 riot has faded. The plight of these business owners, many of them successful and relatively prosperous, has been overshadowed by the global pandemic, a deep national recession, record unemployment and the most vibrant civil rights movement in generations.
But the merchants remember. And they are furious, not only at the people who broke into their stores but also at the police for failing to intervene. There were hundreds of officers on the streets that night. Some can be seen on security video sitting on their parked motorcycles, driving by their stores, some even peering into shops.
I have warned for many years now about the West Coast anarchist movement that uses any assembly as a pretext for violence. Given some of the statements from various Black Lives Matter organizers it is unclear if this is what’s going on here, but I continue to believe that most Americans are people of goodwill and are law-abiding.
Anarchists make peaceful assembly impossible. We need substantial penalties—long-term incarceration—for those who would abridge everyone’s First Amendments rights in this way. Anarchy is in effect domestic terrorism and should be treated as such.
These types of events also put the lie to the notion that we can live or are safer without law enforcement.