Vic's View: A Modest Suggestion (Portland's Lesson)

By Vic MacDonald/Editor
Now, United States Veterans have joined protestors in a siege in the embattled City of Portland, Oregon. Protestors won’t budge and occupying federal agents won’t leave until they know the courthouse is secure.
To that end, federal agents go out of the courthouse and through a fence in the late evening to have the protestors disperse. Protesting has gone on more than 2 months.
Here is my suggestion - a tactical retreat. First, a little information from a CBS News article I found on Yahoo! News (July 30):
“Federal agents tear-gassed protesters again and made arrests as several hundred people demonstrated in downtown Portland late Wednesday and early Thursday, hours after state leaders announced federal agents would soon leave the city, CBS Portland affiliate KOIN-TV reports.
“It was the 62nd night in a row of protests there.
“Governor Kate Brown said early Wednesday that all Customs and Border Protection & ICE agents would depart Portland and be replaced by Oregon State Police beginning Thursday. But acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said the agents would stay put ‘until we are assured that the Hatfield Federal Courthouse and other federal properties will no longer be attacked.’ Federal agents issued their first warning of the night shortly before 11 p.m., cautioning people to leave the fence around the courthouse alone or face potential arrest. A few minutes later, they started deploying tear gas and crowd control munitions.
“Some people could be seen climbing over the fence and climbing back out at about 11:30 p.m. Federal agents fired another round of tear gas and stun grenades but a large crowd remained crushed against the fence, undeterred.
“Federal officials declared an unlawful assembly at about 11:40 p.m. and asked ‘peaceful protesters’ to leave the area.
“At one point, some protesters holding American flags and veterans with signs met face-to-face in a silent standoff with federal agents. Christine VanOsdol was one of the vets who refused to move as agents approached. She said she's a U.S. Army Desert Storm veteran and doctor of occupational therapy.
"’I'm out here to stand for the United States Constitution and for people's right to free speech and to stand here and ask for better from our leaders,’" she told KOIN. 'This breaks my heart.’"
“Air Force veteran Jiri Rivers told KOIN seeing federal agents on the streets of Portland engaging with protesters, ‘fills him with rage.’
“At about 12:30 a.m., officers held someone face-down on the ground and handcuffed the person before dragging him or her through a garage door on the back side of the courthouse building, KOIN says. Moments later, they arrested a second person just around the corner, taking them through a garage door on the building's north side.”
So, my suggestion is this, Go Protest somewhere else.
That would leave the rioters, and the people bent on turning a protest into destruction (ie, the fence-climbers), alone at the courthouse facing federal arrest. Federal agents don’t really desire to tear-gas the Wall of Moms - who have filed a federal lawsuit - or the Wall of Veterans, so don’t give them a reason to do so.
There must be some other places where protest could be effective in the City of Portland, Oregon. Don’t threaten a Federal Building, and the federal agents don’t have any reason to be there. Yes, I know, federal agents are going to Chicago even though there is no Federal Building under attack. And federal agents cleared out Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C., even though no Federal Building was under attack. But those are separate issues.
To get Portland, which is a long way from here maybe even “a world away” from here, back to normalcy, just stage a tactical retreat. Heck, let the Wall of Veterans lead it - they learned it in military college, fight the battle on another front, so to speak. Any reason you can give federal agents to leave your city - Take It.
Vic MacDonald is editor of The Clinton Chronicle. In June, he began his 45th year in community journalism - he has covered many demonstrations, but never a riot. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Chronicle. MacDonald can be reached at 833-1900 or

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