On my morning walk I came across this striking mural by a young Mexican artist named Paola Delfín. It seems appropriate for Cinco de Mayo, but it put me in mind of the heartless policies of Portland’s current mayor, a millionaire who inherited his wealth from generations of timber barons.
I have paused my current writing project to join others in the Portland Buddhist Peace Fellowship in crafting an open letter to the Mayor. In April he invited the people of Portland to start informing on people they suspect of being “self-described anarchists,” as he is now blaming all who meet that description for property damage that has occurred downtown. He absurdly asks people to report to police the license plate numbers of cars seen conveying “people dressed in all black.”
What particularly galls me is that he calls for people to make videos or photographs of suspected anarchists, and to hand those photos over to the police. That means anyone seen making photos of protests could be an informer, or their work could be confiscated and used by police to harm protesters, so I can no longer use my camera to document protest.
A paragraph from the letter-in-progress says this: “You issue a call to vigilantism in a time when thousands are out of work because of the pandemic, thousands may be evicted when the moratorium ends, and thousands are already houseless without adequate health care. Children have been severely impacted by the pandemic, and artists, dancers, musicians, and hairdressers are chronically unemployed. After more than a year of suffering from the pandemic, we need compassion, connection and understanding. We need funding to rebuild our economy, art to nourish our spirits, health care and housing for all. In this context, you focus on ‘100 or maybe 200’ anarchists?”
A friend of mine published a powerful article about local anarchists, if you’d like to read it.