In Portland, Oregon, a month and a half of nightly protests set the chasm widening between Antifa protesters and local and federal law enforcement.
While the violence is very real and outsized, what is almost pretend and miniature, if you will, are groups of protesters, using minors to carry out their political agendas.
The Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front, a group comprised of anti-capitalist and anti-fascist teens, was found to be playing a major role in these violent protests in the City of Roses.
The scene of the violence is the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse where U.S. President Donald J. Trump deployed agents from the Department of Homeland Security to secure it on July 5th.
When federal officers responded to a suspect vandalizing the courthouse, an officer was struck in the head and shoulder with a hammer. The hammer-wielding suspect made a hole in the door before “deliberately” hitting a federal officer in the head and shoulder with the tool, according to police. The Seattle Times reports that damage to the nearby Justice Center building will approach $300,000.
Portland police said federal law enforcement officers used tear gas and crowd control munitions on people protesting Saturday night near the courthouse. One protester was seriously injured when federal agents responded to the rioting with nonlethal munitions. Portland officials quickly denounced the agents’ use of nonlethal munitions even though Portland residents have clearly indicated that they fear for their safety.
“Officers have been pushed longer and harder than he has ever seen during what he termed an “unprecedented” stretch of protests that have injured more than 100 people, including police,” Chris Davis, Deputy Chief of Portland Police Bureau said at a July 8 briefing.
Davis said police have been hit with frozen water bottles, rocks and other objects, had paintballs spatter their face shields, and been harassed with laser lights that can damage eyesight. He said there are still no excuses for police failing to live up to the organization’s standards, and some conduct concerns have been referred to an independent review and the bureau’s professional standards commission.
For the Youth Liberation Front’s anonymous leaders, these protests are part of the revolution. They are resolutely anti-capitalist and anti-fascist, and rail against anyone who works to reform a failing political system when they want to break the entire system and burn it down.
In social media posts, acts of vandalism are portrayed as necessary by the Youth Liberation Front leaders as part of the broader struggle to make big changes in America. “They reject any effort — by police or other groups — to divide the protest movement into those who are peaceful and those who turn to violence” according to the Seattle Times.
“The Pigs are in a PR battle so they say there’s a difference from ‘peaceful’ and nonviolent protesters. When in fact what we are fighting is the ultimate form of violence, making any and all resistance self and community defense,” the Youth Liberation Front tweeted.
With little or no regard for the consequences of their actions, some youthful participants solidified those views, as evidenced in interviews during protests. However, disregard doesn’t mitigate their culpability in the carnage. They do know right from wrong, as evidenced by the lengths they go to preserve their anonymity.
“With real change comes a lot of collateral damage,” said one young man who attended a late-night protest and declined to give his name.
Numerous events had been planned for the weekend under the guise of marches against police brutality and racism.
The planned demonstrations and marches ran the gamut of issues, including the Haymarket Pole Cooperative in participating in the StripperStrikePDX protest, which sought to bring awareness to the lack of transparency with anti-discrimination policies and practices in the adult entertainment industry.
Black Lives Matter Portland organized a “Direct Action” protest, where about 20 to 30 people gathered and marched to the Multnomah County Justice Center.
Businesses in downtown Portland have suffered $23 million dollars in damage and lost business during the weeks of nightly chaotic and violent protests, Portland Deputy Police Chief Chris Davis said last week during a virtual news briefing.
The secret machinations of the leadership of The Youth Liberation Front lived up to its radical Northwest legacy of the “black bloc” whose acts of vandalism rocked the City of Seattle when it was trying to make a positive global impression on behalf of the city during a 1999 meeting of the World Trade Organization.
The Battle of Seattle turned into an international embarrassment for the city when 50,000 protesters from across the continent to disrupt proceedings of an organization that they blamed for violations of environmental standards; workers protections and rights of developing nations.
WTO delegates were held hostage in their hotels as the group succeeded in shutting down the event’s opening ceremonies. Embarrassed city officials declared curfews in an effort to clear streets and instituted a state of emergency with a 50-block “no protest zone.” Police in riot gear fired tear gas and nonlethal projectiles, pushing demonstrators out of downtown and up to Capitol Hill, where more than 500 people were arrested.
President Trump indicated that he had sent federal law enforcement officers to Portland to quell the nightly protests over police violence, and claimed Portland police were incapable of managing the protests themselves.
“It was out of control. The locals couldn’t handle it,” Trump said, speaking to acting head of Homeland Security Chad Wolf. “And you people are handling it very nicely.”
The show of force in Portland drew a rebuke from a number of elected officials on Sunday.
Gov. Kate Brown called for federal officials to scale back their response to the protests.