I doubt they read blogs like mine, but if some of the jerks who have been aiming fireworks at the federal courthouse in Portland every night, trying to dismantle the temporary fence that surrounds the building, and otherwise provoking a violent end to the otherwise peaceful Black Lives Matter protests do come across this post, let's have a debate.
My position is: Violence should never be part of a Black Lives Matter protest. Not ever. Repeat, never.
Now, let me give reasons for why I think I'm correct about this. The first reason is much less important than the second, but I'll start with it.
Yes, I'm an old white guy. However, I was in college from 1966-71 at San Jose State College (or as I like to call it, with zero to back me up, the Stanford of the South Bay).
We had lots of protests against the Vietnam War. I recall that most were peaceful, though sometimes the cops behaved badly. However, most of us hippies truly did believe in "Make love, not war." Sure, there were fringe groups on campus that espoused violence against the Powers That Be. I didn't know anyone who agreed with them, though
So I felt right at home at the only Black Lives Matter protest I've attended here in Salem. It featured thousands of people who listened to inspiring speakers, then marched through downtown and back to the Capitol Mall without any trace of violence or even overt hostility to police.
(Jerry Moore, the police chief spoke at the event.)
The focus was on what it should be: Black Lives Matter.
And that's what is so irritating about the violent acts being carried out by small numbers of troublemakers or anarchists, not only in Portland but now also in Seattle and other cities. Which gets me to my second, and more important, reason for decrying violence at these protests.
Black leaders are calling for an end to it.
A few days ago E.D. Mondainé, president of the Portland branch of the NAACP had a right-on opinion piece in the Washington Post. Here's some excerpts.
A front page story in today's Portland Oregonian makes some similar points.
It was almost 11 p.m. Wednesday when the crackle and flash of fireworks erupted at the federal courthouse in downtown Portland.
For some of the Black activists across the street at the county’s Justice Center, the disruption was a signal to wrap up for the night. The volatile scene beginning to play out a block away was distracting the crowd.
Michael Richard, 38, the final speaker, closed with a lament:
“What’s going on over there is a white movement … that’s taking over Black Lives Matter.”
The rest of the night would be marked by fire, chaos and a show of force by federal officers.
“A spectacle” is how the Rev. E.D. Mondaine described the spasm of late-night violence that has become the norm.
He blamed not only disruptive protesters but also presidential interference, which he said is carefully calculated to divert attention.
“Our movement has been co-opted and I am angry about it,” said Mondaine, president of the Portland NAACP. “Once again the status quo is finding a way to interrupt this revolution, this moment.
“We have to begin to organize more people to talk about the distractors,” he said. “These are privileged children of the status quo dancing on the stages that were designed to lift up the voices of people like (civil rights leader) C.T. Vivian and (U.S. Rep) John Lewis, the stages that were built to lift up the voice of justice and equality and inclusion.”
...Even before the involvement of federal law enforcement, the nights have tended to unfold in predictable ways: Black activists lead the crowds in front of the Justice Center with chants such as “Black lives matter” and “No justice, no peace.” Often they exhort the crowd to refrain from violence.
Then at some point well after dark, a faction of protesters that Blake referred to as “the graveyard shift,” largely young and white, turns its attention to the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse.
Over the course of the past week, demonstrators have carried out a range of destructive acts: They’ve set bonfires in the courthouse portico and pried plywood off the windows and doors, tossed a grill and garbage over the fence around the building, pointed lasers at officers and lit fireworks with concussive blasts that can be felt for blocks.
Almost on cue, officers with U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, many in camouflage and tactical gear, at some point emerge from the courthouse and sweep the streets using clouds of tear gas, pepper balls and other impact munitions.
...People lashing out during the protests “have legitimate anger, but I would respectfully disagree with them,” said Eric Ward, a longtime civil rights strategist and executive director of the Western States Center, a Portland-based organization that monitors right-wing extremism.
“I would say they are applying that anger in a wrong way,” Ward said. “Pulling down the boards of the federal courthouse or the Justice Center doesn’t stop police from brutalizing Black and Latino and Indigenous people on the streets of Portland.”
Protesting police violence by acting violently toward police obviously undercuts the core message of these protests. It serves no purpose. Well, it serves Trump's purpose to demonize the Black Lives Matter protests as threats to law and order in cities controlled by Democratic mayors.
And that's another reason to end the violence by a minority of protesters: Trump is relishing it.