Taking Action for Black Lives

blm.pngOregon PSR continues to stand in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives. We want to let you know of some ways to support the huge momentum now to support the demands of the Black Lives Matter movement, and, here in Portland, to center Black Lives while also demanding that the paramilitary troops deployed by Trump immediately leave our city. 

Many actions are posted daily on PDX Black Lives Matter Calendar.

It is important is for each of us to participate at whatever level feels safe. Please take care of your health when considering where/how to support these calls for direct action and read our safety suggestions below if you plan to attend any in-person events. There are many actions that can be taken from home.

Read my reflection from participating in Black Lives Matter protest on 7/25 where I witnessed federal police shoot a woman in the face. 

Support OHSU students who are providing first aid at the nightly Justice Center protests. They have put out the following call:

Donations:

Donation boxes are located in the lobbies of Richard Jones Hall (RJH) on the hill and Robertson Life Sciences Building (RLSB) on the waterfront. We are looking for the following donations: water bottles (squirt top are preferred), packaged snacks, ear plugs, masks (homemade are accepted if washed before donating), eye protection, helmets, basic first aid supplies, and hand sanitizer. If you would like to make a cash donation please consider donating to local BLM organizations or email me to be connected to the OHSU students.

Volunteering at the OHSU medical tables at protests:

We will be setting up tables to distribute supplies at protests going on in the area. Our upcoming tabling events will be at the Justice Center from 8 -11 PM. Volunteers are needed to help distribute supplies. We are also looking for those with any first aid training who can provide care to injured protesters. If you want to help with this, email me and I will connect you to the organizers.

There are many more events listed on PDX Black Lives Matter Events Website so be sure to check that regularly. 

Some Other Ways to Support the Movement

Donate to support the movement. This twitter thread has a good list of options for donations.

Sign on to the Portland United Against Hate letter urging elected officials to stop police abuses and to remove the Federal marshals from Portland.

Important practical safety considerations to consider for anyone considering attending the protests in downtown Portland.

The recent protests in downtown Portland have tended to involve fairly large groups of protesters assembling outside the Federal Building and the (in)Justice Center starting around 8 PM or maybe even earlier. The nightly protests (now for 56 days) are to amplify the message that Black Lives Matter and object to police brutality in numerous ways. At some point law enforcement comes out of those buildings, or they swoop in from vehicles and fire tear gas, pepper balls, concussion grenades/flash bangs, and even rubber bullets at the protesters who generally fall back and then reform as the police leave. This can happen several times over the course of the night and tends to go on until 2-3 AM. The crowd is quite fluid and there is no pressure to stay later than one's individual comfortable. 

In the past, leaving by 10 PM has kept people away from clashes with law enforcement. However, the law enforcement are very aggressive and unpredictable and no-one who is going there should assume they are safe from getting tear-gassed, shot with a "less-lethal" munition, or being physically assaulted by law enforcement. Once the area is shrouded in tear gas and law enforcement starts patrolling the area it becomes quite a fluid, chaotic, and unpredictable environment. 

With the above in mind, if you choose to go:

  1. Go with a buddy and stick with that person
  2. Bring the best mask you can find - a simple mask will offer some protection from COVID-19, but it won't help much with tear gas and pepper spray. N-95 masks do a pretty good job, respirators are significantly better and a gas mask is your best protection.
  3. Bring good eye protection. Skiing goggles seem to work fairly well and there are some people wearing swim goggles. Tear gas will get around regular glasses.
  4. Bring ear plugs. The flash bangs are very loud. 
  5. If you forget any of those things there are tables set up handing them out and street medics walking around identified by red crosses taped on their clothing who can help you out. 
  6. Get the jail support number for the event and write it on your body with permanent marker.
  7. If you are uncomfortable or scared it is probably best to leave, while giving thought to the fact that African-Americans cannot just leave the situation when they are approached by police, pulled over, or trailed by the local neighborhood watch vigilante.
  8. If the numbers of protesters start to dwindle and you are still there, it is probably time to leave. The worst abuses by law enforcement have happened when there aren't a lot of protesters in the crowd and they can get away with it. The chant "You got my back? We got your back" is quite literally true and the protesters are looking out for each other. 

If you have a respiratory condition, or aren't able to run away quickly in a pinch, it's probably not a good idea to be down there. There are lots of other ways to support Black Lives and fight police brutality, including putting pressure on elected representatives to siphon money away from bloated law enforcement budgets towards health and social services.