If you like photographing political animals — in a very literal sense — Portland, Oregon, is pretty much like the Serengeti is to National Geographic documentary crews.
Every few weeks, a right-wing organization of dubious provenance or an antifa group will organize some kind of rally. The other group will show up because if the first group were allowed to hold a rally unmolested, the world might indeed collapse in upon itself.
This all ends with people karate-kicking and spraying noxious substances on each other — and there’s always an independent journalist in the mix who ends up getting attacked, almost always by antifa-related types.
Either way, there’s always some unsettling footage that comes out of these events, which feels as if it ought to be narrated by gravitas-mode David Attenborough. You can almost hear the quintessentially English pipes of Sir David now: “The one thing you will notice about these fights, of course, is the complete absence of police. In Portland, they seem to stay away from the brawl, letting a pack of hyenas try and chase the impala entirely unmolested. The hyenas, as you see, have their bricks and wallet chains out …”
History repeated itself Saturday as police refused to help a videographer who was being chased down by an antifa mob.
According to TheBlaze, Nate Millsap, who runs the YouTube channel Stumptown Matters, was there to document the clash between leftist groups, including antifa, and members of the Ku Klux Klan, who were slated to have a rally at the Multnomah County Courthouse. The KKK canceled that rally three hours before it was to happen, according to KOIN-TV, which should have been a victory for everyone.
Instead of going home, however, antifa stuck around.
Portland police tweeted that “lit flares are being thrown into the roadway near Lownsdale Square” and that a monument in the park was defaced by antifa members.
They also used “metal-tipped umbrellas” to poke “people and chase them down the street,” according to a police news release.
KOIN reported that “a group of protesters pushed police while throwing oranges, a glass bottle, tennis balls, rock, concrete, batons, cans, and mud at the officers and other people.”
Three individuals spray paint pro-communist and anti-police slogans on a monument in Portland’s Lownsdale Square yesterday. An antifa counterprotest to a scheduled KKK rally that never occurred turned into an antifa rally with sporadic confrontations with provocateurs. pic.twitter.com/j4IjGNYz0Z
— Matthew Rodier (@mattrodierphot1) February 9, 2020
Millsap said antifa members “had concealed objects or weapons in their hands” when he encountered them.
He told TheBlaze he saw one of them “approaching me while shaking a can of pepper spray. I wanted no part of whatever intentions they had for me so I immediately abandoned my camera duties and sprinted to safety.”
Warning: The following video contains graphic footage and language.
Millsap took refuge with police officers in riot gear at the city’s Justice Center, but antifa members continued to pursue him, calling him a “b—-.”
What did police say? “You better come up with a different plan, like maybe go somewhere else, dude,” one officer told him. “We’re not gonna run out here and save you.”
Millsap then explained the situation to police.
“I’m just telling you that ain’t gonna happen again, so you better go probably find something else, OK?” the officer said.
Millsap would eventually escape.
The police bureau said in the news release that officers “did not use force against anyone during this event.” If that was supposed to be a brag, it probably shouldn’t have been.
“A small group’s actions negatively impacted public safety of the entire city because resources had to be diverted to this event,” Portland Police Bureau Chief Jami Resch said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, a group of people chose to engage in dangerous, illegal behavior. I appreciate the thoughtful, measured response by our officers and law enforcement partners.”
The very, very measured response demonstrated in the video drew the attention of Andy Ngo, inarguably the highest-profile independent journalist covering the Portland antifa beat.
After asking Portland police for comment on the officers’ decision not to defend Millsap’s right to document a public protest, he said he received an email back saying “just because an arrest is not made on the spot, it does not mean that an arrest won’t be made in the future” — a statement that somehow manages to miss the point and yet be totally on brand for Portland officialdom.
Portland Police responded to my inquiry about the video showing one of its officers telling a videographer that no one will come help him. PPB says “just because an arrest is not made on the spot, it does not mean that an arrest won’t be made in the future.” pic.twitter.com/R4tx0N9jgM
— Andy Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) February 10, 2020
Just another documentary video from the Portland Serengeti.
This would almost be funny were it not so serious. This is ostensibly a group of masked thugs out of “The Warriors” who have cloaked their ideology in politics and managed to be believed by some. Keep in mind, there were no Klansmen out on the streets of Portland for antifa to oppose. There wasn’t any catalyst for this violence.
All the black-clad hooligans here could have gotten in their Priuses, removed their bandanas, turned around, hummed “The Internationale” to themselves on the way home and then binge-watched old Henry Rollins spoken word videos on YouTube.
Instead, what they did was — well, all of this and certainly more.
Portland doesn’t have any sort of substantive control over antifa, and it’s proved this repeatedly. Ngo himself is the most high-profile victim, having been brutally attacked on camera last June. Police have issued “red zone” warnings ahead of these events yet seem thoroughly unable to stop an invariable result.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has largely been ineffective in the matter.
In 2018, after antifa members blocked an intersection, threatening and harassing motorists, Wheeler stood by the decision of the police not to intervene, according to The Washington Times.
After another particularly violent weekend courtesy of antifa groups last August, Wheeler posted an idyllic date-night photo of himself on social media, captioning it, “Sundays in Portland.”
The message, in other words, has come from the top: Yeah, we might not like this sort of thing, but if you’re in their way, you’re on your own.
The people of Portland can’t afford that kind of leadership. You’ve seen the National Geographic videos. You know, eventually, what happens when the hyenas catch up with the impala.
Eventually, tragically, one feels the result might not be much different here if law enforcement doesn’t start enforcing the law.
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