Trump Very Confused Why Portland Not Treating His Goon Squad As Liberators
Portland police claimed demonstrators broke into their North Lombard headquarters Saturday and set it on fire. Although the riot occurred 51 days into protests against police brutality, it's important to put this specific act of violence into the larger context of Donald Trump's goons invading the city last week.
The (acting) secretary of Homeland Security, a guy literally named Chad Wolf, had the feds move in because “violent anarchists" graffiti-ed a federal building, causing damages of roughly $5,000 or 500 bananas. Mulder and Scully usually had a better claim to federal intervention when some drunk said they saw aliens abduct Bigfoot outside an Oregon McMenamins.
Trump, who has waved the white flag to COVID-19, is laser-focused on stopping rogue Banksys. The secret police just isn't as effective against a pandemic. He tweeted his loving support for Portland like an even more deranged King George.
Trump is confused why Portland isn't greeting his brownshirts as liberators. Why must every city he invades reject him?
This political theater from President Trump has nothing to do with public safety. The President is failing to lead… https://t.co/KLhhdDKw3P— Governor Kate Brown (@Governor Kate Brown) 1594943723.0
Arguably, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler's anti-protester rhetoric opened the door to all this. He isn't that impressive and Portlanders should replace him with Sarah Iannarone. However, even Wheeler thinks the federal government has overreached with literal invasion, and he's joined Oregon Governor Kate Brown in telling Trump's thugs to pack up and go home. Wolf considered those fighting words. He wasn't going to let unlicensed street art continue under “his watch," but he's still only the acting head of Homeland Security so he doesn't really have a watch or any other kind of official time piece. Someone should have their ass Senate -confirmed before invading US cities.
Wolf replaced Kevin McAleenan, who was Homeland Security standby performer from April to November 2019. McAleenan stepped in after Kirstjen Nielsen was forced out because she was only the "margarine of evil" and Trump wanted the real deal —say, someone willing to have unidentified federal officers round up Portlanders and throw them into unmarked vans. Wolf's the common Chad for the job. He visited Portland a few days ago and was horrified at the sight of graffiti on boarded-up buildings.
OK, Chad, that's graffiti all right, but Portland still hasn't reverted to cannibalism or even the rough downtown from My Own Private Idaho. Wolf isn't just acting like a DHS secretary. He's acting like the conservative dad in every 1980s teen movie who doesn't want his kid moving to the big city. He doesn't care if his daughter has an internship. He was in a city once for a business trip. He's seen the vandalism and poor spelling.
What's definitely worse than vandals spraying graffiti on buildings are goons spraying tear gas into people's faces, including a guy in a Navy sweatshirt — the official uniform of anarchists. Chris David, a 53-year-old former Navy civil engineering corps officer, told the New York Times he wasn't paying much attention to the protests until Trump's thugs showed up.
"When that video came out of those two unmarked guys in camouflage abducting people and putting them in minivans, that's when I became aware."
When Trump's uniformed bullies advanced on protesters, David asked them a simple question: Why were they violating their oath to the Constitution? Their response was thuggish brutality. David was beaten with batons and his right hand was broken.
Trump has manufactured chaos in Portland with an unaccountable mob of federal officers. This must be stopped. By… https://t.co/j5XJbcu4CT— Julián Castro (@Julián Castro) 1595172131.0
If unprovoked ass-kickings were intended to frighten and cower the protesters, they've had the opposite effect. Trump and his enablers in the police force can't intimidate Portlanders into abandoning their constitutional right to assemble and protest.
Federal agents are brutally attacking medics in Portland. We will not let these inhumane and unconstitutional acti… https://t.co/1hAo5l3P9d— ACLU (@ACLU) 1595175600.0
Portland doesn't need Trump's help and doesn't want his droogs spreading the ultra-violence on our streets. I live in Portland, and our biggest threat before Trump's invasion was COVID-19, which confounds the so-called president because he can't have someone punch it.
Conservatives and rightwing media might want to paint “liberal" Portland as a city under siege, but as Eder Campuzano reports in The Oregonian, that's not reflective of the city as a whole.
The images that populate national media feeds, however, come almost exclusively from a tiny point of the city: a 12-block area surrounding the Justice Center and federal courthouse.
And they occur exclusively during late-night hours in which only a couple hundred or fewer protesters and scores of police officers are out in the city's coronavirus-hollowed downtown.
Those events are hardly representative of daily life, including peaceful anti-racism demonstrations that have drawn tens of thousands of protesters, in a city of 650,000 people that encompasses 145 square miles.
Portland is fine. States' rights isn't just a buzzword for keeping the Confederate flag waving or banning abortion. It also means that a city's mayor and a state's governor can choose how they manage political protests and the occasional flareup of wanton graffiti. The president is supposed to have better things to do even when there's not a pandemic.
The Oregonian decided in June to alter how it covered protests so that it didn't primarily focus on police in riot gear subduing alleged looters. The police have their own PR department. The larger cultural moment, which is actual news, is that tor almost two months, people have peacefully assembled against police violence and in support of Black lives.
Portland is a tryout performance and Trump would love to take his despotic show on the road. This isn't just evil. It's incredibly stupid. Nate Cohn at the New York Times and other pollsters point to Trump's despicable photo op at Lafayette Square as the moment his poll numbers took an abrupt turn for the worse.
His advisers -- including his daughter and son-in-law -- are idiots, so they might think if the president double down with the gestapo tactics, he'll scare white suburban voters into loving him again. Trump can shout, “You'll be back!" all he wants, but no one's listening.
Stephen Robinson on Twitter.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."