I heart Portland. It is a city with a lot of a potential, and a lot of challenges. And over the past few weeks, a lot more national attention as federal agents have been in downtown, responding to protestors marching for police reform. I didn’t even know these anonymous forces were in the city until I read a story on social media. Someone from outside of the city posted that Portland was overtaken by rioters and mobs of anarchists were burning the streets.
Meanwhile I was sitting on my couch on a sunny afternoon, completely obviously to my apparent destruction. I was so shocked that I walked over to the window, peering out to see if I had somehow missed all the chaos during a walk that morning. My car sat in the parking lot, with windows unbroken. A few neighbors were walking along the sidewalk, without shrieks of terror. And the nearby freeway appeared to not be on fire or falling down.
I went for a long run a few days later, wondering if I would see the destruction when I got closer to downtown. Three miles to the west and back again. Nothing appeared different than the days and weeks before. Near a park several homes have Black Lives Matter signs posted in their front lawns. There were also a few small white signs leaning near street corners declaring “AntiRacist,” “Defund Racism,” and “Love Is Love.” If these were leftovers from a riot, there was nothing more.
I’ve gone on more walks and runs since my city supposedly fell to anarchy. There are still children playing on front lawns and covering sidewalks with chalk doodles. Individuals without homes have set up tents near the highway, part of a rotating village I’ve seen shrink and grow for years. Construction crews force me to zig zag across major streets as they fix potholes and update sidewalks (damaged by use, not by bombs). There is a lot happening on this streets that have nothing to do with what voices from far outside this city declare.
Portland in 2020 is a city dealing with pandemic, economic disaster, murder hornets, climate change, political unrest, and desperately needed police reform to ensure every person walking the streets can breathe. We are struggling, like every other city in this nation.
This is not anarchy. This is response to oppression.
And much like this eclectic reflective post, it can be kind of a mess in the process. ❤