Portland Police Are Lying About August 4th
I’ve been watching the Portland Police Bureau begin to spin their narrative about what happened on Saturday, August 4th. In particular, Chief Outlaw and Bureau spokespeople have said that police did not give a dispersal order until AFTER protesters began throwing rocks and bottles, and only then did the PPB begin firing stun grenades indiscriminately into the crowd. Sorry, “above” the crowd, per the police narrative; you can see how well that matches the reality by asking one of these folks:
- “Portland woman who protested rightwing rally says she was burned by police grenade”
- A protestor was seriously injured by a stun grenade; the wound would have been fatal if not for their helmet:
In any event, I was about 40 feet from the front of the line on Saturday when police began attacking us, and I want to share what I witnessed:
First, about the dispersal order: it was given far earlier than police are alleging today. In fact, the first dispersal order was issued as protestors were peacefully assembled on SW Naito and SW Salmon, directly opposite the alt-right rally. Over their loudspeaker — which appeared to be an LRAD — PPB announced that they had “seen weapons” among the antifascist crowd and that we were all ordered to disperse immediately. This was at 12:20pm (which I know because I noted it in a text message to friends at that time). Although it took the riot cops over an hour to actually enforce that order, it was given earlier than the Bureau’s current story.
UPDATE: On reread, my comment about the earlier police dispersal order didn’t make as much sense as I thought. To be clear, I’m saying the police narrative about the timeline is false. Police allege:
1) Antifascists threw projectiles, and so
2) Police gave a dispersal order and
3) Fired grenades when demonstrators ignored that order.
In fact, what happened is this:
1) An hour and a half before the police initiated violence by firing grenades, they gave a dispersal order to the large crowd on Naito and Salmon claiming that they had observed “weapons” on our side of the street.
2) No attempt was made to actually disperse the crowd at that time.
3) Later, once we had taken the streets while marching south, police began getting confrontational with us.
4) Police began firing stun grenades at the crowd, and then
5) Some projectiles were thrown.
ORIGINAL POST RESUMES: It was also almost absurdly funny to have police allege that we on the antifascist side had weapons as Patriot Prayer and their fascist friends openly bragged about carrying guns. Note that, according to Kelly Kenoyer’s report from today’s police presser, PPB isn’t even sure if Patriot Prayer was screened for weapons, and photos from the scene show them openly carrying boards and other blunt objects. I did not see a single weapon among any of the antifascist groups assembled on SW Naito, unless you’re counting an ironworker’s sound system, or the Demand Utopia folks’ beach balls as weapons.
Second, the first stun grenades were fired on a crowd of us that had taken the street at about 1:55pm. I believe we were on either SW Columbia or SW Jefferson. As I mentioned earlier, I was about 40 feet from the front line, watching forward the entire time. I did not see a single bottle, brick, or other projectile thrown at police until AFTER the first round of stun grenades went off. All told, I counted about 20 stun grenades fired at us in the first minutes of the police advance.
There were certainly projectiles thrown at police after they attacked us. I can’t speculate as to anyone’s motives, but I suspect it was an attempt to delay the police advance long enough for several youth, dogs, and folks in mobility devices to get away from the heavily-armed riot police which were rolling toward the crowd. And, again, police were pushing forward while firing grenades into a crowd, injuring several people. It’s not unreasonable to try and create some space for vulnerable protestors to avoid the heavily-armed state-sponsored paramilitaries who had, by then, clearly taken the side of Patriot Prayer fascists.
It’s worth noting something that happened before this, as well. As we marched south on SW Naito to continue monitoring the Patriot Prayer crowd as they marched south, a line of riot police suddenly rushed a group of antifascists who were simply walking peacefully on the sidewalk. No warning, no provocation: the cops suddenly decided that they didn’t want us walking any further south on Naito, and so they pushed us away from the sidewalk.
What happened Saturday is unfortunately par for the course when it comes to the Portland Police Bureau. Time and time again, law enforcement and its leadership has effectively protected right-wing and fascist demonstrators while attacking antifascists with stun grenades, pepper balls, and tear gas. Fascists are coddled while antifascists are beaten to a bloody pulp. Don’t believe the propaganda Danielle Outlaw and the Portland Police Bureau are spinning.