Fortunately, Sarah Iannarone didn’t win the race to become Portland’s next mayor, but she’s still around to offer the city advice. Yesterday she wrote a piece for Willamette Week suggesting that instead of worrying about the ongoing left-wing riots and vandalism, people should embrace the rage:
Portland may remain—on the surface and in media narratives—more ungovernable zone of chaos than civic beacon.
Is that so bad, though?
Maybe getting kicked out of the spotlight as a Green City darling and shot back into it as a city grappling with conflict is going to be good for us. Like a married couple who stopped arguing years ago, some high-volume rage could serve us better than low-key complacency…
What if today’s rage helps move us toward cultural shifts and expands our thinking about the tomorrow that is possible?
I certainly think it’s possible that the rage will help clarify things in Portland, but only if it convinces the majority of people in the city that rage, riots and vandalism are more trouble than they’re worth. In other words, only if it convinces people to act like adults and reject the advice of Sarah Iannarone (and her former campaign manager who wrote a similarly insipid piece recently).
Iannarone was reacting to a piece published in Forbes last month titled “Death Of A City: The Portland Story?” The author of that piece argued that Portland, like Seattle and San Francisco, is facing some serious problems including homelessness and riots:
Riots emerged on top of expensive housing and homelessness. As in most large cities, peaceful protests grew out of the George Floyd killing. As in a number of cities, some of the protestors turned violent. What’s unique in Portland, though, is the continued violence. The antifa mobs regularly commit vandalism and occasionally commit arson on occupied buildings or assault reporters…
With the police struggling to handle the riots, shootings accelerated in 2020, running more than double 2019’s level. More neighborhood shootings and ignored 911 calls make all residents feel vulnerable. Despite this undercurrent, though, the overwhelming majority of residents go about their lives normally, or what passes for normally in a pandemic.
But, he argues, that doesn’t mean people outside the city feel the same way about it as the long-suffering locals do. This is the old frog in a pot of water issue. If you turn the temperature up slowly, the frog will adjust and eventually get boiled. That’s what we’re seeing in a lot of American cities. People who live in San Francisco or Chicago may be willing to tolerate one more straw, especially if it’s not in their neighborhood. Meanwhile, people who aren’t locals find the conditions off-putting. Sometimes things get bad enough that even the locals find it disgusting or scary. It’s why people who can are leaving. And the same thing can happen in Portland.
Right on cue, there’s word that a mob has gathered to vandalize the Portland Police Bureau building, the same building Antifa has attempted to set on fire multiple times:
A protest has developed near North Lombard Street and North Campbell Avenue, where participants have tried to break down the door the Portland Police Association. We are monitoring the situation.
— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) February 10, 2021
Today there was a direct action to disrupt Portland Police Association bargaining session with the city. Police were monitoring the area. After 2 hours, everyone left & cops emerged from the PPA building to assess the health of their building. #veteransforblm #portlandprotest pic.twitter.com/efl1iNti4g
— Carissa Dez (@CarissaDez) February 10, 2021
Oink oink 🐷 🎶 pic.twitter.com/9sUwvRS1DB
— Alissa Azar (@AlissaAzar) February 10, 2021
This was a pretty mild example for Portland. Still, embracing this rage isn’t going to make things better in Portland.