Confusion within the spectrum From the Black Rights Movement to the passage of the White Supremacy- Where Confusion overrides the Chaos
Originally Published by Illumination on Medium
Amidst lingering nationwide protest since George Floyd's slaying in the hands of the Minneapolis police officers on May 25th, 2020, recent media attention converged on escalating chaos and unrest in Portland, Oregon. The city was shaken by infuriated protesters, who fled streets for over fifty consecutive nights in a row.
Although the protests are in response to the culture of police brutalities and systemic racism, with the recent deployment of Federal agents by President Donald Trump to restore peace to the turmoil, a new chapter opens in the 2020 yearbook of this country.
On July 17th President Trump ordered the deployment of federal agents to Portland, which has led to the arrest of many protesters. Following the executive order; the president releases the following note:
“We’ve done a great job in Portland,”
“Portland was totally out of control, and they went in, and I guess we have many people right now in jail. We very much quelled it, and if it starts again, we’ll quell it again very easily. It’s not hard to do if you know what you’re doing.”
Among the Federal agents from various branches, including US Marshall, was also the Elite Border Patrol Unit, raising the big question of what those units are doing in a majority white-dominated neighborhood. Agents from the Border Patrol’s elite group known as “Bortac” typically track smugglers, serve high-risk warrants and raid stash houses.
So- Why Feds sent Agents to Portland?
This move by the white house has undoubtedly raised the question of the constitutionality of the action, as it has seemed to have bypassed the local and state authority under the rationale of protecting federal property. Then the question arises- Were protesters so dangerous that necessitated the use of Elite squad?!
The acting Department of Homeland Secretary- Chad Wolf called it “violent anarchists” in downtown Portland. Amid ongoing chaos, one protestor was shot in the head by a federal agent.
Feds claim protests have involved lit fires, windows being broken, and fights. Agents claim to have had lasers flashed in their eyes.
On the other hand, Portland’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, stated; the agents were causing the situation to get out of control.
Amid a violent clash between demonstrators and the Federal agents, Governor Kate Brown filed a lawsuit, seeking a restraining order against the feds. Constitutional law authorities have declared the administration’s risky undertaking that would potentially precipitate a constitutional crisis by eluding state and city authorities and denying fundamental rights of assembly, free speech, and lawful arrest.
According to some resources, Federal agents in Portland, Oregon, detained demonstrators in unmarked vans, teargassed crowds and beaten reporters.
Why White led Protests transpired in Portland?
It is indeed puzzling to witness in a city with a white-dominated constituency federal government finds it relevant to intervene.
Since the beginning, Teal Lindseth, Black Lives Matter organizer, has been a stalwart of Black Lives Matter. Once asked, she stated:
“I look at this crowd, and I don’t see many black people,”- “Oregon is white as hell. Whitewashed.”
Portland has another reputation besides its radical concept. It is the whitest large city in America. Oregon states with a constitution that once prevented black people from living there. An 1850s law made it mandatory for black people to be “lashed” at least once a year, urging them to leave Oregon, and members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) largely controlled the Portland city council between the world wars.
Not too long before the July demonstration, Ku Klux Klan had organized a rally in Portland, Oregon. The rally planned at the Multnomah County Courthouse was eventually canceled hours before its scheduled start. The Portland Police Bureau announced organizers who they did not name had backed out of the event.
Undoubtedly, the Black lives matter demonstration occurred in a KKK stronghold where there was a significant conflict of interest between local, state, and federal government vision and missions. It seems that too many people have been stepping on each other’s toes, and specific local organizations did not approve of what was happening.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) leaders are also pushing for further actions and explanations for the legitimacy of the fed’s exploit.
According to a report- there were some isolated confrontations between the white and Black protestors outside the Portland Federal Building. The latter is pointing to the possibility of differences of mission for being there. And it seemed that the majority of white demonstrators might have been there to oppose the presence of Federal agents on the scene rather than the original notion of Black Lives Matter. For that reason, Black activists worry that amidst all their message is getting lost.
As protests against federal agents grow in Portland, Black activists worry their message is getting lost by the white majority protesting against Fed’s presence, diverting the attention from the original reason as to what the demonstration is all about.
The Divide in the Demonstration and Future Uncertainties
The Oregon demonstration may be an isolated incident without any preplanned initiatives by the federal government. But it would also mean something far more harmful.
It would merely mean the community is defending their constitutional rights by opposing the unjustified presence of federal agents such as Elite border patrol squads, which may also be the basis for divergence from the Black Lives matter mission. It is also plausible that the local white populist mainstream organizations in and around the city reach out to the federal government for the intrusion to bypass state authority. The latter movement would serve as the symbiotic cooperation- to secure KKK interest in the region, strengthen the pre-election support for Trump's presidency in exchange for Two.
Despite the hidden agenda; Constitutional law experts gather that federal officers’ actions in a liberal city such as Portland, Oregon, are an utter “red flag.”
“The idea that there’s a threat to a federal courthouse and the federal authorities are going to swoop in and do whatever they want to do without any cooperation and coordination with state and local authorities is extraordinary outside the context of a civil war,” said Michael Dorf, a professor of constitutional law at Cornell University.
The recent Federal intervention in Portland, Oregon, represents a test of constitutional individual, local, and state rights, and if not addressed, can lead to the expansion of overzealous federal patrolling.