The Action at City Hall

News photograph of an arrest , Portland Mercury 12 October 2016

News photograph of an arrest , Portland Mercury 12 October 2016


A survivor of the many demonstrations at Berkeley in the late 1960s, including the arrest of thousands during the Peoples Park riots, I’ve stayed at my house while there were demonstrations and arrests at City Hall over the renewal of the contract with the police, detailed in my last post.

The final vote proceeded, contrary to state law, out of the presence of members of the public, and those who had come to witness the indignity were herded out of the building by police officers.  Dan Handelman of Portland Copwatch comments

I have been doing this for a long time. I don’t ever remember City Council recusing themselves to a location where the public could not enter. I’m amazed how much they’re willing to use repressive tactics to shut down opposition to their policies. And in some ways, I’m most disturbed how they’re putting out half-truths and misdirection to make their rhetorical points. I’m reminded of the fight we had about the City’s appeal of Judge Simon’s order on the DOJ agreement, where the Mayor’s media person actually accused me of lying when I read him language right out of the City’s own court filing.

Your less-intrepid-than-he-used-to-be Reporter notes that the appeal respecting the City’s refusal to accept Judge Simon’s order was also concerning just this question, of the lack of accountability of the police in our city.

Historically, we can go back to the repeated unleashings of the army [June 1848, May 1871] to clear working-class demonstrators from the streets of Paris, to see similar defenses of middle-class privilege in the face of demands for social justice.

In the U.S. recently, of course, we have had considerable notice that our police forces are militarized and acting as the operating edge of repression.   Donald Trump found millions of frightened voters willing to support his racism by stressing the need for authoritarian measures.  The movie Do Not Resist, which won a Tribeca Prize when released this month, includes the following sadistic take

Based on substantial on-the-ground reporting, “Do Not Resist” is both unsettling to watch and necessary to see. The film begins in Ferguson, Missouri, on a rainy night of protest in August 2014 that erupted into a melee of tear gas and screaming. It then quickly moves to a seminar with Dave Grossman, a law enforcement guru who gives trainings on lethal force and the application of a warrior mentality in the name of the law.

“The policeman is the man of the city,” Grossman begins, before explaining that cops he’s spoken to routinely describe their first on-the-job kill as a prelude to the best sex of their lives. “Both partners are very invested in some very intense sex,” Grossman says. “There’s not a whole lot of perks that come with this job. You find one, relax and enjoy it.”

It is a feature of our imperfect human nature, that we respond to discomfort by authorizing the beating of those we find uncomfortable; our own city is clearly moving in a well-worn direction.

Update 28 October 2016:  We now see, right here in Portland, the lawyer of a politically unpopular defendant physically assaulted and tased in the courtroom by police officers (in this case a federal marshal).  Unprecedented, say lawyers.

When they came for the Jews I was silent, I reply.  The militarization of the police, for use against the African-Americans, the Native Americans, and the street people of all colors, has been increasing for the last two decades, and has accelerated under Our First Black President.

About M. Meo

Worked as translator, museum technician, truck lumper, lecture demonstrator, teacher (of English as a Second Language, science, math). Married for 25 years, 2 boys aged 18 & 16 (both on the Grant cross-country team). A couple of scholarly publications in the history of science. Two years in federal penitentiary, 1970/71, for refusing the draft.
This entry was posted in Brian Willson, Dan Handelman, Elections, Empire, Fascism, Free Speech, Local government, Oregon state government, Police, Spiritual life, U.S. Constitution, War. Bookmark the permalink.

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