PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Protests went late into the night again with federal agents using tear gas and crowd control munitions in an attempt to bring the unrest under control.
“Black Lives Matter” was the consistent chant at the start of this historic movement. Now, more than 50 days later, people are wondering where we go from here.
“What does it mean when the chant stops, do Black lives matter now this morning or is this just an excuse for us to indulge our rage and anger?” one Portlander, Jared Essig, asked.
Jared Essig says he’s been out protesting in Portland — and before protests turned into tear gas this past weekend, he listened to leaders in the Black community who came out to speak to them.
“They want the property and destruction to stop, they want the provoking of police to stop,” Essig said. “If you want to support Black lives, then don’t destroy a federal courthouse. This doesn’t help the cause, it actually endangers Black lives, [that] is the message we got from them.”
Jared describes the late night crowd as militant.
“The militants as part of the occupied protests come in — and I’ve been a part of that militant group, but increasingly I’ve been listening to Black elders, speaking about how this militancy is not hitting the intended target. Instead of addressing it to the police commissioner and the PPB, we are attacking a building.”
He said after the sun goes down the situation typically escalates.
“What I’ve seen at night is a bunch of young white instigators, rattling the fence,” Essig said. “The goal seems to be fighting the police and destroying the building — not per se seeking civil justice for Black lives.”
While he offers his criticism of the late-night unrest, Essig also called out what he says is neglect from the mayor and city officials regarding the situation.
“The mayor should come out and address people like Jo Ann Hardesty,” he said.
He thinks the city should put more money into repairing the parks, like fixing the public restrooms, rather than fencing it all off. While protesters have started occupying both Chapman and Lownsdale Square, he suggests the city send out park rangers to give citations, instead of using the Portland Police Bureau to rush people out.
“The only interaction that these young people have with city government is through militarized police.”