Socialist Worker

Anti-racist protesters face repression in Portland - but refuse to be cowed

by Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2715

Protesters in Portland say, Feds go home

Protesters in Portland say, 'Feds out now' (Pic: @NWGSDPDX/Twitter)


Anti-racist protesters in Portland, Oregon are continuing their battles against police and federal troops sent in by US president Donald Trump.

Trump wants to crush the protests that have raged in the city for over 50 days following the racist murder of George Floyd.

Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf warned that the federal troops, “will not retreat” from the area.

The repression has been brutal. Troops have routinely tear-gassed and beaten anti-racist protesters. And there are reports of activists being abducted on the streets by federal agents.

Mark Pettibone told The Washington Post newspaper that last Wednesday he was grabbed by agents dressed in camouflage, put into a van and driven to a cell in the federal courts.

But protesters in Portland refuse to be cowed.

During hundreds-strong protests early on Monday morning, protesters set a fire in the entryway to Portland’s court house. They faced repeated tear gassing from federal agents.

Portland police said in a statement that “dozens of people with shields, helmets, gas masks, umbrellas, bats and hockey sticks” approached the court house before being dispersed.

Remembering George Floyd - the Apple store in Portland last month

Remembering George Floyd - the Apple store in Portland last month (Pic: drburtoni/Flickr)


Protesters have continued to take to the streets.During one demonstration, protesters chanted, “Feds go home! Get out of our city!”

“It's ironic that we’re getting tear gassed for protesting against aggressive police tactics,” said Eric, a protester from Washington State.

“I think it says more about them than us when the feds respond to our demands for justice with tear gas and smoke bombs.”

Uprisings

When uprisings began over the racist murder of George Floyd almost two months ago Trump threatened that he would send in federal forces.The National Guard—controlled by individual US states—has been deployed a number of times.

But this is the first time that federal troops —controlled by the central US federal government — have been sent to try and put down the protests.

Homeland security is deploying agents including from the BORTAC group. This is the US Border Patrol’s equivalent of a SWAT team – a group that usually investigates drug smuggling.

It isn’t common for a US president to send in federal troops.The last time they were sent in was over in 1992, when George HW Bush tried to use them to quell riots in Los Angeles.

To justify the use of federal forces, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnan whined, “The Portland mob has become increasingly aggressive.”

She claimed violent protesters threw “chunks of concrete, faeces, balloons filled with paint, slingshots, pig feet and batteries”.

The Democrat Mayor of Portland Ted Wheeler said, “We’re demanding that the President remove these additional troops that he sent to our city. It is not helping to contain or de-escalate the situation it’s obviously having exactly the opposite impact.”

In the early hours of Wednesday, cops in riot gear cleared an “Occupy City Hall” encampment in City Hall Park. The camp had opposed police brutality for a month.

And Trump’s moves to try and crush anti-racist struggle is unlikely to stop in Portland.

He has also threatened to send federal troops into other cities including New York and Chicago. These have seen some of the largest and strongest Black Lives Matter protests.

Trump’s response shows the lengths our rulers will go to in order to protect their racist system. Portland protesters are right to fight back.


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