Black Lives Still Matter

Photo by REUTERS/Terray Sylvester. Source.

The current revolution in Portland all started with the Black Lives Matter movement, and it still very much is about the Black Lives Matter movement, although many POC feel the focus has shifted away from the BLM movement. It seems like the focus hasn’t been shifted as much as broadened. (Granted, I have a very white privileged POV.) I believe this escalation is in direct response to the BLM movement. Systemic racism runs so very deep in this country, and especially in our current federal leadership, that they find recognizing Black people as equals scary enough to deploy federal troops in order to silence them and those of us speaking in unison with them.

Sadly, it took the Wall of Moms, Trumps secret police kidnapping of people off the streets, and the near-fatal shooting of Donavan La Bella to get national media attention. Now the Moms have become the celebrities, inspiring even more people to join their ranks as well as form their own “walls,” like the Wall of Vets, the Wall of Nurses, and the Dad Pod, sporting their leaf blowers to disperse the gas.

Wall of Moms in Downtown Portland—July 24, 2020

Of course, that is part of the problem. It took the feds shooting one young white man with a less-lethal round, causing a skull fracture and brain damage, for the movement to regain momentum. The scores of Black people murdered by police apparently hasn’t been enough for the media to care for more than a few news cycles. It took a wall of mostly white moms locking arms to gain national attention, even though Black moms have been grieving the loss of their children at the hands of police violence for decades (nay, centuries).

Teressa Raiford, an activist and founder of Don’t Shoot PDX, said Black moms asked the white mothers to go out there, and that the response highlights the white supremacy people are protesting.

“Why was it allowed that so many people got assaulted until white women showed up?” Raiford asked. “And why are they assaulted for saying ‘Black Lives Matter?’ I think that for the general public, they should be educated that the people showing up for Black lives shouldn’t be subjected to the humiliation and that someone should be accountable to that.”

OPB SOURCE

Part of the reason for the new national media coverage is that this is indeed NEWs. The level of violence perpetrated against Black people is so great and so very common, it’s not “news” anymore. I learned this hard lesson when I was researching rape culture during my own recovery.

For example, an American (usually women) is raped every 74 seconds in this country. That’s nearly one every minute, so during the time it takes you to read this post, about 10 people were raped in the USA. It’s so disgustingly ubiquitous and common that it’s not “news” anymore. On the other hand, false accusations come in around 2% of all reported cases (of which about only 50% of cases are reported). Needless to say, they are incredibly rare. So, when someone is falsely accused, it’s NEWs, because it happens so very rarely. This gives the impression that it happens far more than it does, all while minimizing the epidemic of sexual violence.

So, after 6 weeks of BLM marches all over the country, news stations were bored. ‘Same ol’-go onto something else,’ but then **White boy shot by feds**… that’s NEWs. **Group of middle-aged women line up to protect Black protesters and face police violence**, again: NEWs.

It’s bullshit, but sadly it’s the harsh reality I’ve come to radically accept with mainstream media. It makes it necessary to take it with a grain of salt and research shit on your own. Of course, most Americans don’t do that. They think they’re experts on a topic after seeing a tweet from Trump or a short segment on Fox. That’s fucking reality, too.

The movement is still about Black Lives Matter at its core because it’s this remarkable movement that brought the pandemic of police brutality to national awareness. Some say “it’s bigger than that now,” but this language minimizes the original BLM movement, which was in response to horrors beyond what most of us (especially white) people can imagine.

The current issue has widened to include a threat to our very democracy, which intensifies the BLM movement; for if we don’t stand against the impending fascism, I fear that Black lives will matter even less in this culture as the country moves deeper into the clutches of white supremacy. It is imperative we resist this trend toward fascism, white supremacy, and tyranny. If the media are listening to white voices more and white faces once again dominate the media in order to bring attention to this horror, I hope these white voices continue to remind the country this is about BLM first and foremost.

Language is important.
Language matters.

As I wrote a previous article, it’s important to define terms because words not only contain power, they also contain connotation and assumptions based on those hearing them and their beliefs/information. The words you choose to discuss this revolution or question people’s motives matter, too.

I hear far too much of “Why did you go down there if you knew something bad was going to happen?” and “If they protesters would just go home, this would end.” This rhetoric is the same as saying “Why were you dressed like that and were out alone at night?” and “If she didn’t make me angry, I wouldn’t have to hit her.”

This language is apologist and victim blaming. It’s the language of abusers.

Protesters showing up to exercise their First Amendment rights and stand against police brutality are not responsible for getting beaten, shot, or gassed. The officers who are choosing to beat, shoot, and gas nonviolent protesters are at fault. They and only they are responsible .

They’re torturing us.

There are so many people justifying this torture, assault, and abuse by saying that these are “riots,” not “peaceful” protests. Someone asked me “Do you just expect the cops to stand there and get hit by rocks and other projectiles?,” as if throwing stones in a high arc towards people dressed in full riot gear deserves being shot at point-blank range with a “less-lethal” munition from a high powered rifle. As if shooting fireworks over the heads of officers so they land behind them warrants the use of chemical weapons banned by the UN, either thrown into the crowd or sprayed directly in people’s faces. As if shaking the fence or spraying the feds with silly string or tossing apple cores toward them means their justified in ganging up 4-to-1 and beating an unarmed protesters with batons.

The Resistance is nonviolent.
The officers react to these legitimate forms of nonviolent protest with extreme violence. If they are truly there to defend the building, then DEFEND, but they are going on a brutal offensive nightly. NOTHING justifies this violence.

Jo Ann Hardesty, City Council Commissioner

…and the feds are worried bout their reputation? Um, how about stop shooting, beating, and gassing nonviolent protesters and violating their Constitutional rights! I be that would do wonders for your reputation!

Let’s take this scenario to see what you think:

Did you hear what happened in Boston?

An unarmed teenage boy was hit in the head with a butt end of a firearm during a nonviolent verbal exchange with a law enforcement officer.

Word of the incident quickly spread, and within an hour several people gathered in the area to peacefully protest. They shouted slogans, and business owners in the area closed up shop for fear of their property.

The law enforcement officers called for backup, and backup arrived in the form of heavily armed law enforcement personnel. They then declared the assembly unlawful and ordered the protesters to disperse.

The crowd, in response, grew restless and hurled dirt clods at law enforcement personnel. Law enforcement responded by firing into the crowd.

The first man killed was a Black man.

If, while reading this story, you found yourself thinking that law enforcement was in the right, and that the protesters should have dispersed.

Then congratulations! You have fallen on the wrong side of history, siding with the tyrant King George IIII against American patriots.

The incident occurred in 1770. The Black man killed was named Crispus Attucks. The incident became known as the Boston Massacre and was on the key events leading to the American Revolution. Take note.

Source Unknown

This is a battle for the streets of Portland. These are not riots. The officers perpetrate the violence and respond to nonviolent acts with extreme aggression. This New York Times videos accurately depicts what’s happening here.

Even some anonymous feds have admitted they are making things worse. Today Trump announced he’s sending more troops into Portland, and he’s sending them to other cities, too. This has become a fight for our very democracy against a tyrannical government. It’s time to join this War Effort.

If you can’t be on the streets for physical or mental health reasons, there’s plenty more you can do. Anything is better than nothing, which is what 95% of Americans are doing. Don’t be one of those 95%. Stand up against fascism and the federal occupation of our cities.

Refrain from spreading misinformation and Trump’s harmful rhetoric without fully educating yourselves. Call out people who do. There are hundreds of police brutality videos from all over the country, catalogued by Greg Doucette, plus you can see what the people on the ground sees every night by following #PortlandStrong and #PortlandProtests, or follow me, as I retweet much of it (@christinerose).

Donate to BLM, ACLU, and Don’t Shoot PDX. Donate to funds that will help protect the protesters out there protecting your rights. They need gas masks, helmets, shields, and more. If you don’t live in Portland, consider that you might not know what the fuck is really happening here and defer to those who are on the ground.

Write articles and letters to the editor. Call Representatives. Speak out on social media. Challenge your friends and communities. Get out on the streets if you can. If there was ever a time, this is it.

It’s a moral imperative for our very democracy.

“Naked Athena.” Photo by Dave Killen of The Oregonian. Source.

Trump fucked with the wrong city.

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