Last week, the head of the local NAACP, E.D. Mondainé, warned that the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Portland had started becoming a “white spectacle.” Yesterday, the BLM-affiliated group Don’t Shoot Portland accused the white leadership of Wall of Moms of “anti-Blackness.” ABC News reports today that problem has gone all the way down to the streets, with black demonstrators attempting to stop violence in order to keep the protests from turning into riots — and that white agitators are pushing back.
Why, it’s almost as if they have two different goals, ABC News notes:
In recent days as vandalism, attacks on police and fires ignited in the streets have increased, protesters have become split between those bent on destruction and those who believe the peaceful actions of the Black Lives Matter movement are being drowned out by demonstrators and agitators pushing violence as a means to achieving their goals.
On Tuesday night, the difference in philosophy played out in the streets of Portland when a white protester dressed in riot gear set a sizable fire in the middle of a street. A Black Lives Matter protester, who identified himself to ABC News as Najee, ran over and put the blaze out in an incident caught on video.
The white protester in full riot gear responded by yelling, “light the fire again!” A frustrated Najee yelled back, trying to explain that inciting violence and destruction was taking away from the BLM message.
The white protester responded, “they burned down one police building in Minneapolis and they defunded the police department.”
Actually they haven’t yet “defunded” the police department. Right now, it looks like they won’t get a chance to abolish it at all until next year, thanks to votes at the Charter Commission to put off a referendum until the Minneapolis city council produces a specific proposal for a replacement of its law-enforcement functions. It does show, though, how appeasement incites greater radicalism — and whose goals that serves.
Last night, however, demonstrations did calm down after Oregon state police took over for city police and federal law enforcement. The crowds were smaller, and without federal officers in sight, apparently less inclined to act out:
Oregon state troopers arrived Thursday at the downtown Portland federal courthouse, the scene of nightly clashes between federal officers and protesters. State police are now taking over to try to defuse the sometimes violent confrontations.
Thursday night’s demonstrations remained overwhelmingly calm past midnight, with no troopers in sight.
Oregon State Police took on the high-profile assignment to provide security at the courthouse after the Trump administration this month sent more than 100 federal officers to guard the building, leading to larger crowds of thousands protesting their presence and widespread condemnation by city and state officials and members of Congress.
“Calm down” doesn’t necessarily mean entirely peaceful, as Andy Ngo reported from the scene. Yes, that’s a pig’s head with a police cap:
Antifa protesters dumped a bloody severed pig's head on an American flag outside the Justice Center in downtown Portland. They put a cop's hat on it and set all of it on fire. #PortlandRiots #antifa pic.twitter.com/qfAOT4ItxP
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) July 31, 2020
The after-midnight violence didn’t materialize, KGW reports, perhaps in response to a planned withdrawal of federal law enforcement. However, KGW also notes that BLM leaders have gotten annoyed that the agitators have bogarted the protests for the issue of federal enforcement rather than police reform, and that also explains a little more assertiveness in squelching the provocateurs:
Police said even when some demonstrators tried to do things like set fires or climb the fence at the federal courthouse, other protesters stopped them.
“At times people lit small fires along sidewalks on surrounding blocks and attempted to light fires inside the fence at the federal courthouse,” Portland police said. “Others in the crowd put the fires out. Some people climbed on or near the fence at the federal courthouse, but others admonished them and they got down. People could be heard in the crowd repeating that the protest was to remain peaceful.” …
Black Lives Matter organizers said they feel this issue of the feds being in town has been a distraction from the movement.
“This doesn’t go away tomorrow. This problem that we face as Black people, it’s every day,” said Reese Monson, organizer of Black Unity PDX. “So, with having the feds here still, so we say or so we think, it’s not an issue. It’s not going to stop us. We’re still going to be here. We’re still going to chant. We’re still going to let them know that Black lives matter.”
It appears that the BLM movement has had enough of its Antifa “allies” in the streets. It appears that they have belatedly begun asking themselves the same questions Mondainé asked last week:
Images of “Naked Athena,” as the protester has been labeled, have gone viral, her unclothed confrontation with police earning her accolades as a brave ally of the cause. But I see something else: a beneficiary of white privilege dancing vainly on a stage that was originally created to raise up the voices of my oppressed brothers and sisters. …
Unfortunately, “spectacle” is now the best way to describe Portland’s protests. Vandalizing government buildings and hurling projectiles at law enforcement draw attention — but how do these actions stop police from killing black people? What are antifa and other leftist agitators achieving for the cause of black equality? The “Wall of Moms,” while perhaps well-intentioned, ends up redirecting attention away from the urgent issue of murdered black bodies. This might ease the consciences of white, affluent women who have previously been silent in the face of black oppression, but it’s fair to ask: Are they really furthering the cause of justice, or is this another example of white co-optation?
Belatedly, at least, BLM leaders are concluding it’s the latter — and that the anarchists have a very different agenda than that of the NAACP and the majority of African-Americans, who need better policing rather than no policing.