From “After a Year of Protests, Portland Is Ready to Move On. But Where?”
People will conclude very different things from this update because as the Torah says, “We see things not as they, but as we are.” Admittedly, it’s dangerous to selectively excerpt from it, but here goes.
“A hardened core of street activists, many of them professing opposition to authority in general, has dug in and shows no signs of going away. (Portland’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, has asked people to stop calling them protesters, but rather what they call themselves: anarchists.) Their numbers are now down to perhaps 25 to 75 on any given night, compared with hundreds in late 2020 and the many thousands who marched last summer in protests after Mr. Floyd’s murder.
But they have shown themselves at times to be violent — one was charged with attempted murder after a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the police — destructive of property and highly adaptable, using social media tools and other strategies to divert the police from the targets they select.
Direct actions are promoted on social media with the phrase ‘No gods, no masters,’ a 19th-century anarchist term that indicates a rejection of all forms of authority. More traditional protesters from Black Lives Matter and other movements who try to curtail violence are now ridiculed as ‘peace police’ by the anarchists, who mostly consist of young, white men.
Demetria Hester, a member of Moms United for Black Lives, continues to push for defunding the police but disagrees with the current call for dismantling the entire political system. “Breaking windows is performative,’ she said. ‘That satisfies them at night, but they don’t have a plan.’
Some prominent Black leaders have been formally distancing themselves, with some calling the anarchists’ rejection of gradual progress just another symbol of privilege that Black people do not have.
‘Being able to protest every night is a white privilege, being able to yell at a police’s face is a white privilege,’ said Gregory McKelvey, a prominent Black organizer who ran the mayoral campaign last year for Mr. Wheeler’s opponent, Sarah Iannarone. ‘Most Black people across the country do everything they can to avoid cops.'”
There is no reason why law abiding, pro-peaceful protest liberals should let 25-75 anarchists confirm Fox viewers’ and Right Wingers’ preconceived notions that all Progressives endorse violent anarchy. “Formal distance” is a start. Prosecute cases of violence and vandalism. Schmidt is striking the right balance.