If you have been watching what is happening in Portland, then you know why we simply have to remove this president in November with a peaceful, determined and overwhelming vote, send him packing and investigate and prosecute him for his crimes. How in God’s name he can view this as acceptable behavior in any context escapes me. This is what happens when elected officials become criminals. They dispatch their personal armies to silence people who are expressing what we have sworn to defend, their right to protest, to proclaim, to be profane, to do whatever they feel is justified to make their point.
This all started out in support of Black people and their mistreatment at the hands of police officers. Then it became a Black Lives Matter triumph and, actually, kind of a fun moment when those letters were painted in huge, screaming yellow right in front of the White House. President Trump’s behavior there was egregious and unforgivable, unleashing federal police to clear a square so he could walk over to a church for a photo op. That was bad enough.
But this is worse. The people of Portland, for the most part, were holding peaceful protests to make their support of the Black Lives Matter cause apparent. Yes, some of them were unacceptably out of hand, tossing fire works, shining hand held lasers at the authorities, starting blazes, spray painting an array of taunts and other things on federal property. But there isn’t a single part of that we could not repair in less than a day. Paint, after all, comes off with some encouragement. It might even be left on as a tribute to public expression of political will.
But no. Trump sends what is becoming his own personal police force to provoke the crowds, gas people, shoot them with projectiles of all kinds and create a scene that looks as much like chaos as he can manage. Then he uses it to justify his actions. That is evil, pure and simple. Despotic behavior without a question.
There is a way to respond, but I think we are beyond the point at which the crowd in Portland can control itself well enough to achieve it. Remember John Lewis, who died just a few days ago. Remember the Edmund Pettus Bridge and what happened to him there on one of the bloodiest days in civil rights history? He got his brains beat out by Alabama State Troopers. I interviewed him years ago and wondered what might have happened if he had made it unscathed across that bridge. He was damaged in that incident and could have been a bitter, angry man. But he was not. He was an advocate of peaceful protest, having experienced that brutal alternative. Martin Luther King Jr. carried that same message about peaceful protest. The people on the streets of Portland need to take that to heart now.
What would happen if they went out, showed up in great force, and did nothing. An absolutely silent presence in the face of provocation and intimidation from the federal authorities. I don’t know if I would be strong enough to do that, but it is well worth a try. Giving peace a chance here sends a powerful message to everyone. Show the nation that you have come in peace to support change, and my guess would be the nation will stand with you.
Clearly, the other way has not worked for anyone so far.