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Letters- ‘We are determined to stay on the streets in Portland’

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Issue 2717
A Black lives matter protest in Portland
A Black lives matter protest in Portland (Pic: Matthew Roth)

Our protests In Portland started with the Minneapolis uprising and have continued every day for well over two months.

The Portland police were very brutal with us, using lots of tear gas and intimidation techniques, which only reminded us of our goal—to dismantle and abolish their forces.

The federal forces have now “disappeared,” but we know they’re still here or nearby. Nonetheless, we’re not being gassed or beaten by feds any longer.

The local Portland Police have resumed that role. I think the general mood is that we are not done fighting and we have to think of new strategies and targets.

We also have to breathe and rebuild after three long weeks of battling the feds.

It was very heartening to see solidarity protests. It reminds us that the oppression of the US empire extends beyond this city and this country.

For a while, it felt as though the empire was crumbling right above us. It’s hard to shake that feeling even now.

I believe Donald Trump saw the persistence of our protests, and how we had successfully limited the police from using one of their tools, and saw this as a challenge to demonstrate that he had control over us. I think it was both an election year tactic for a supposedly “law and order” president, as well as a personal vendetta. He has always hated Portland as we have protested against him since his election.

Moving forward we need to see a united front of workers, socialists, unemployed, houseless, liberals, and the newly radicalised coming together and putting pressure on government at all levels.

We need to diversify our targets and our tactics. And we need to keep the energy up.

Evan Burchfield

Co-chair, Portland Democratic Socialists of America

Women’s pain is trivialised

I was appalled to see that a scientific study had been carried out that tried to link women’s attractiveness to endometriosis—a disorder which affects female reproductive organs. 

This study tries to say that women with the disorder are more attractive, with a smaller waist and bigger breasts. 

Measurements were taken from women without their consent for this study.

It’s taken me over ten years to get diagnosed with endometriosis. 

The pain makes it an utterly debilitating disorder that has affected my work and social life.

I have been misdiagnosed and told by a doctor that if I just got pregnant then it would get better. 

There is no cure for endometriosis yet.

And there isn’t even a plan for people with the disorder to effectively manage pain.

So to hear that funding had gone into a study that doesn’t try to cure endometriosis, nor even try to help anyone manage their pain, but instead judges women on their perceived attractiveness was shocking. 

I have been dismissed, ignored and told that my suffering wasn’t real countless times by health professionals. 

We must take women seriously when they are in pain, and fund research into actually helping us—not judging us on our bodies. 


Central London

‘Emergency’ virus moves could become permanent  

The lockdown must have been excellent for all those who are fans of austerity. Libraries, council rubbish tips, playgrounds are all closed.

There will be no day centres for older or disabled people. 

Buses are running very irregularly, and are on reduced service. 

Many non-urgent operations and hospital treatments are cancelled. 

There have been fewer green waste collections and care at home for older or disabled people has also been reduced. 

We will have to watch out—when the virus is no longer so much of a threat —that the Tories don’t make a lot of these restrictions permanent. 

Yes, pandemics are a costly business, but they will use any excuse to keep public spending to a minimum. Especially as both the virus and spending cuts affect the low paid the worst.

S Burden

Via email

Left must offer an electoral alternative

We have seen the election of Keir Starmer as Labour leader and the increasing attacks on the Labour left from the new New Labour leadership. As a result there has been talk about the need to relaunch a left electoral challenge to Labour.

This could be a challenge that offers the voters a continued socialist alternative after the demise of Jeremy Corbyn.

I note moves towards relaunching the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition but with a whole generation of new activists. 

These activists have been inspired by the policies of Corbyn and what he represented.

And I believe now is the time that we, on the left, must look forward to work together and attract the thousands now left disillusioned by the treatment of Corbyn.

There are many who feel bitter about the abandonment of radical policies and the fake calls of unity used by Starmer to win the leadership of the Labour Party. 

We need to be open to creating a new electoral force, similar to previous attempts such as the Socialist Alliance and Left Unity where we bring in new and even broader forces.

Philip Wilson


Rhodes fallen in Stortford

We have heard great news that the Rhodes Birthplace Trust in Bishop’s Stortford has at last succumbed to pressure and said it will change the name of The Rhodes Arts Centre.

It was named after the racist colonialist Cecil Rhodes.

However, they have not accepted that it should be named after a black person as was demanded by both Stortford Against Rhodes and Stand up to Racism Harlow. 

But our protests have won something and that’s an important lesson. In particular the recent demonstration following the racist attacks in Stortford—which we linked to the intransigence of the Trust—has had an effect.

Janet Szpakowski


Terrible toll of Covid-19 death

According to the official statisticians of the UK administrations, the excess deaths during the pandemic now stand in excess of 65,000. 

It is a horrifying and catastrophic figure.

To put it in perspective, throughout the entirety of the Second World War, when Nazi Germany blitzed London, Coventry, Clydebank and other towns and cities across Britain, the civilian death toll was 67,100 

In a period of around four months, Boris Johnson’s government, and the devolved administrations of the UK, have allowed Covid-19 to kill almost as many people as the Luftwaffe did in the six years of the war.

Mark Brown


Hunger is Tories’ fault

I don’t understand how anyone can think hunger is not the fault of the Tories. 

The Tory ideology is always about prioritising capitalism and the rich.

I recently saw a story about a British woman who died weighing 42lbs, after her benefits were stopped, a benefits system implemented by the Tories.

Do not normalise this shit government.


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