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Portland Riots

July 20th, 2020

By Stephanie Werner
 

Photograph by Stephanie Werner

For days people have been gathering around the Multnomah County justice center downtown. On Friday night, people looted stores and broke windows. Walls were tagged with ACAB and people were tear-gassed. A curfew went into effect Saturday night, but people continued to come out across Portland and we were met with more police and more force. Sunday morning protesters gathered again outside downtown. Videos and pictures flooded the internet of cops kneeling with us and shaking protester’s hands. What they didn’t show was them standing back up and tear-gassing us. They blocked off entrances to downtown after this. But as night came, we came back. We marched peacefully for miles and when we made it downtown we were met with walls of cops surrounding the now gated off justice center. We spoke to the sergeant and he spoke back talking of rebuilding the trust between citizens and the people they are meant to serve. Firecrackers and fireworks went off in the surrounding streets, they were met with a chant, "peaceful protest" and hundreds of boos. This was supposed to be different than the days prior. The gates blocking us from them were about to be opened so black leaders could speak with the sergeant directly to talk of reform, and that's when the tear gas went off. Headlines talk of people breaching the justice center, but we did nothing of the sort. We stood in crowds of hundreds and were tear-gassed in the middle. They chased protesters and continued to tear gas small groups of people. Cops were seen destroying their cars, but video footage of it had been removed by Monday morning. They spoke of trust, but how are we supposed to trust them when they destroy their property? How do they expect us to be peaceful when they only allow space for violence? We want to speak. We want to be heard. We want reform. We live in a country that has been taken from native people, has been built on the backs of immigrants and who is run by a man who's ideals are very different from a large portion of the country. We're pissed and we’re ready for change. And Portland police are acting as if they do too, but then treating us like we’re coming at them with the same force they use on us. We're mad, and they're not going to silence us.