Today's Rorschach test: Is this video from Portland propaganda, or an aggravated assault?

Today's Rorschach test: Is this video from Portland propaganda, or an aggravated assault?

This will count on your final grade, students. Activist/journalist Andy Ngo published video of a confrontation at a house last night in Portland after demonstrators got pushed away from a police precinct, where they committed acts of vandalism. More on that in a moment, but this video prompted a hot debate in my Twitter feed.

What does this video depict? Is it an aggravated assault on a random homeowner, or is it a propaganda piece by Ngo intended to discredit demonstrations in Portland?

Some in my TL objected to Ngo’s characterization of the event, but mainly to Ngo himself. They see Ngo as a provocateur of his own and a propagandist. Specifically in this case, some accused Ngo of deliberately only covering certain incidents in order to paint all demonstrators with a broad brush as Antifa and domestic terrorists. Fair enough — we often note the motivations of journalists and observers and draw conclusions from those, and note that what doesn’t get covered matters as much or more as what does.

However, this incident speaks for itself. Shining green lasers into someone’s eyes is a deliberate assault; three federal officers got blinded by the same tactic at the federal courthouse in Portland, and may not recover their sight. That is assault, even apart from the physical battery that the woman suffers at one point in this standoff. The mob on her property is intimidating her back into her house, which is another crime; that is the resident’s property, not public property, and they have no right to be on it, let alone prevent her from using it.

Moreover, this was not an isolated event, as The Oregonian reported separately last night. It started with an assault on a police precinct, then dispersed for a time into residential neighborhoods:

An Oregonian/OregonLive journalist saw someone point green lasers at a security camera. People also spray painted the cameras and a glass door at the front of the building. Police said one person was seen trying to tear down a camera. Most of the windows had been covered with plywood, and demonstrators tore down some of the boards.

People did not leave after police issued the warning. The size of the crowd increased to around 200 people. Most people chanted as a few people started taking down plywood from the building, exposing glass windows and a door. Some people pushed dumpsters to form barricades in the street.

Police called the gathering unlawful at 9:45 p.m., and told people to leave immediately. Several people wearing yellow t-shirts formed a line and linked arms at the south end of the street. The yellow t-shirts are a uniform of protesters who identify as mothers. They repeated, “Black lives matter!”

Near the entrance of the building, someone used a metal tool to repeatedly hit the glass window. Police said demonstrators cracked glass doors at the precinct. Someone soon started a fire in a trash can next to the entrance.

The residential confrontations were a mixed bag, to be sure:

Most people stayed in the area. One altercation occurred between a person who lived nearby and several protesters, after the woman walked out of her apartment wearing a swastika. Both sides shouted insults at each other.

Neighbors were mixed in their reaction to the crowd. At least other two bystanders got into shouting matches with protesters after screaming “all lives matter” at the crowd. One man who claimed to live in the neighborhood walked toward police, held out his arms and shouted, “I live here. You need to leave!”

This incident caught by Ngo appears to either be among the latter described by the Oregonian, or not covered at all. Either way, the paper never specifically reports the intimidation of the woman or the physical assaults on her. We have to rely on Ngo’s video to be informed of that. Should we then discount all of the Oregonian’s reporting for missing that incident and leaving the impression that these people are just demonstrators rather than a mob action?

The Daily Wire has more of Ngo’s videos at the East Precinct, which again one can watch while either accepting or rejecting Ngo’s characterization of the events. The beauty of video is that it tends to provide its own corroboration and allows viewers to reach their own conclusions. If anyone can provide a reasonable explanation of any legal justification for shining lasers into the face of a woman standing on her own porch, and then manhandling her when she refuses to retreat from her own property, then I’ll be willing to entertain the “propaganda” argument.

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David Strom 2:31 PM on March 19, 2023