August 14, 2019
Due to a prior commitment, I couldn’t attend the Mayor’s press conference today on the upcoming right-wing rally and the threat of violence it brings to our city. I support the Mayor’s call for unity and appreciate his effort to bring together a large coalition of elected officials, community organizers, faith and business leaders, and more.
I support this call for peaceful and nonviolent protest but I can’t remain neutral when the real threat to our community is clear. I can’t watch my community, colleagues and coworkers, friends and neighbors, family and loved ones be threatened and persecuted for their race, religion, immigration status, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability without addressing the perpetrators—Trump and his administration, white nationalists, and other right-wing extremists.
Furthermore, I refuse to put left-wing counter-protesters in the same category as the people who are bringing this threat to our doorstep, fomenting fear in our community, and inspiring murderers from Portland to El Paso. Now Trump wants to label Antifa as “domestic terrorists” when the real threat to national security is staring back at him every time he looks in the mirror. The Mayor says enough. Enough is right. Enough hate. Enough bigotry. Enough right-wing extremist violence and terror.
I do not condone violence. But despite the fact that individuals on both sides have engaged in violence, I will not support the false narrative of there being good people on both sides. There is no good on the side of hate and bigotry. There is no good in hurling loaded words which carry real threats of violence to innocent people. There is no good in threatening already vulnerable communities with having their rights stripped from them and causing them to live in fear for their families and their very lives.
There are multiple, creative, peaceful counter-protests planned for Saturday. There is a multitude of ways to express your support for targeted communities and your opposition to Trump every day. Please listen to the voices of those who are most at risk. They are not calling for violence. Please do not play into the hands of right-wing extremists who want the resistance labeled as terrorists, in order to infringe on all of our civil rights, and repress our ability to protest. You have the right to peaceably assemble, you have the right to oppose our federal government, you have the right to free speech.
And finally, to the Police bureau: I know you are in the unenviable position of trying to keep the peace in a highly charged political environment. I also know that decades of police violence toward peaceful protesters has hurt our ability to stand together in moments like these. I urge you to demonstrate your commitment to the constitutionally protected rights of all our residents.
So show up, Portland, but hold it down. Don’t become the monsters you are fighting by stooping to their level. You are on the right side of justice. You are on the right side of history. You are on the right side of love, and joy, and life. Let that be reflected in your actions this Saturday and every day.