Steering Committee Statement on the Events in Portland
DSA-LA has been monitoring the situation in Portland, OR where residents have been bravely protesting police violence and racial injustice for months. Federal agents arrived at the beginning of July after President Trump signed an executive order on June 26 ordering the protection of federal monuments and buildings. They have since been attacking protestors, including beatings, use of tear gas, and unidentified agents pulling people into unmarked vans.
Opposing these authoritarian actions by the Trump administration is directly linked to the current struggle to defund police departments nationwide, which also responded violently to protestors. That is why it is so important that we stay focussed on the goals set forth by Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles and our role in supporting Black liberation while also recognizing that this recent escalation represents a clear and present danger to our democracy, which must be opposed by any means necessary.
Of the largest cities in America, Portland is the whitest. The oppression now being experienced by white people there is a minuscule sample of what African-Americans have suffered constantly since being brought here as slaves. If what is happening in Portland is allowed to continue then every city and town in America will be under threat. Indeed, Trump has already announced that he is sending federal agents to other cities across the country. It is people of color who will suffer most from any expansion of authoritarianism.
Politicians, who have otherwise shown only performative support for the protestors and their goals, have nonetheless reacted to the federal presence by adopting the protestors’ language: Oregon Governor Kate Brown described the federal response as a “blatant abuse of power,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler called it an “attack on our democracy,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said the federal agents were acting “beyond their authority” and “every American should be repulsed when they see this happening,” Oregon Senator Ron Wyden described the agents as an “occupying army,” and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called them “storm troopers.” We do not expect these same politicians will cooperate in advancing meaningful reforms.
As the leadership of DSA-LA, we are committed to the following actions to respond:
- Sending $500 to Portland’s DSA chapter for the purchase of supplies and collaborating with its leadership to highlight their work and provide communications support
- Continuing our work as a coalition partner of the BLMLA-led People’s Budget LA
- Supporting organizing work in historically Black communities of Los Angeles
We have arrived at the present moment where American “storm troopers” are beating veterans in the streets because our country and our world are in crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the failures of the global capitalist system led by the United States where billionaires get richer from a crisis that impoverishes millions of others while also killing Black and Latino Americans at nearly twice the rate of whites. The murder of George Floyd has exposed a systemically racist system of policing that is a leading cause of death for Black Americans.
In this difficult moment, we know that solidarity is our most powerful weapon. We commend the white allyship displayed in Portland such as the Wall of Moms, who have used their bodies to shield protestors, while recognizing that Black women have been doing the same for decades without similar recognition. We must continue the hard work of educating ourselves and others about the historic inequities at the heart of America as we fight for a more equitable society that lives up to the ideals it professes to believe in. That work is now more urgent than ever.