It’s Going Down
A report from the front lines of Portland from Defend PDX.
In the beginning, we were many. We were thousands. Exploding into the street after watching a video of horror both strange and all-too-familiar: a video of a nine-minute murder, of a killer indifferent to the pleas of the bound man he choked and crushed to death. Broad daylight, on film, unprosecuted. Another police murder. Another black person dead.
As the video circulated, things began to shatter. Hearts. Trust. Restraint. Patience.
We marched through these streets–our streets–to the sound of shattered windows. We screamed the names of the dead to the heavens as though they might be able to hear, as though we might rouse them and reverse the brutality that ended their lives. From above: silence. Some crimes are unforgivable, irreversible. But the future is not yet written: we could stop this from happening again, we must stop it by any means necessary. Voices united in a pledge, a pact: “No Justice, No Peace.”
There was no justice, and so there was no peace. The police quickly set aside their PR platitudes and came for us in force. The cacophony of flash bang grenades rattled windows, nerves, teeth. Thick, sputtering clouds of tear gas choked downtown and incapacitated passersby as the protesters scattered, terrified by this sudden brutality. The pain is unbearable. Your eyes swell and burn: you become blind. Fire in your lungs, your mouth, your stomach. You retch and spit. Every instinct screams that you are dying, panic fills you: you flee.
We could not withstand it, at first. Mass protests disintegrated into terrified individuals, scattered to the winds.