Portland Perspectives

Nate Cohen

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Hey all,
So update from the Portland front. Before I go any further I want to say that I’m gonna be ok and it was close but I am luckily not critically injured. And Black Lives Matter. Feel free to share this post.
A little after 1 AM last night the feds decided to try and push Portland out of the park across from the courthouse (which has been the focal point of the demonstrations since the feds arrived).
They came out hard with tear gas, pepperballs, and baton rounds and people scattered. I ended up down the street from a line of them, and began moving my way back and forth across the front line of protestors, helping evac a couple injured people and checking on others. I was clearly marked as a medic, with red crosses on both my legs, both my shoulders, two different places on my hat and across my med-pack. After a few minutes of standoff the Feds tossed a tear gas canister at a group of reporters and LOs that were at the corner of 3rd and Salmon filming them, about 15’ away from the Feds line. I doused the canister with water from my bottle and stood up and began to check if any of them had been hit by the gas. I straightened up and was immediately struck directly in the chest just above the heart by a launched and burning tear gas canister. It took me off my feet and knocked the air out of my lungs.
My crew saw me go down and came and got me and carried me a block away to where other medics could start checking me out (get yourself some comrades who will run through a teargas cloud and a hail of rubber bullets to come get you, they’re the best kind of friend in the world) and quickly determined I needed to go to the ER.
One of my boys was livestreaming when it happened, and while you can’t see me get hit you can see me in the video before hand several times and then you can hear them running to me and moving me after he stuffed his phone into his pocket. It’s intense but not overly graphic, so I think I encourage people to watch (and maybe more importantly listen as most of the video after I’m hit is just sort of indiscernible motion but the audio is super clear), so you can understand what is happening here and what the government of our country is unleashing on its people. If you don’t want to watch the whole 10 minute clip I’d start it around the 7:30 mark.

One of the Wall-of-Moms Mom’s bundled me into her car and drove me across the river to the ER at Legacy Emanuel (god love
a mom). I got an extensive check-up, xrays and ekgs and the good news is nothing is broken or permanently damaged (and my heart held up like a champ and is all good for those of you worried about that!) so the official diagnosis is a severe chest wall contusion. I’m in a lot of pain but managing it (shoutout to vicodin), and immensely grateful it hit me where it did and not a couple of inches higher. Shoutout to James Krane for riding it out with me in the ER in the midst of a pandemic. And the photos below are his too, his insta is ripcityview (some of the best protest pics in the biz if you’re looking!). First is me after I got hit, then the ER last night and the injury this morning.
I also want to note that I was one of at least five medics who was injured by the feds last night. They are clearly going after us incredibly intentionally, and they are using weapons that aren’t designed to be shot at people to shot us with. There was absolutely no reason for them to view me as a threat. I wasn’t yelling, I wasn’t being aggressive, I wasn’t doing anything threatening. I was standing off to the side on the sidewalk with some journalists holding a water bottle in my hand.
It was terrifying and scary. But here’s the thing. Portland is kicking these fuckers ass right now. Since the feds arrived the protests have grown to almost 30x the size they were when the feds showed up. They come out with batons and pepper-balls and portlanders show up with hundreds of shields and form phalanxes and hold the line. They launch tear gas and people scoop the cans up with lacrosse sticks and toss them back at the feds while other people blow the gas back at them with leaf blowers and industrial fans. Gas masks and respirators are out of stock at every major supplier on the west coast (I got this from a hardware store owner in town who is trying to help supply demonstrators and is having to source his respirators from a company in Ohio because so many Portlanders are buying them up). They put snipers on the roof and they get chased down with flashlights and lasers. We are having ABSOLUTELY NONE of their white supremacist fascist bullshit. The RiotRibs people fire up the grills around 6 every night and they keep cooking til 4 or 5 AM and when the tear gas comes out they just put on respirators and keep on grilling, bumping old-school hip hop tunes on a portable sound system. The Feds are in way over their heads. There are 114 of them, and there are thousands and thousands of us. Every night I’ve been out they’ve escalated the scale and ferocity of their attacks and Portland just keeps showing up harder and harder, and staying clear and loud on the message that we are out here because Black Lives Matter. Despite all the violence and injuries and pain, people aren’t scared. We believe that we will win, and there is solace in that certainty.
What scares me is these officers have no clue what they’re doing. They are highly trained Border Patrol tactical troops and US Marshals, but most of them don’t have protest training, and most of them haven’t been trained on the weapons they’re being asked to use either (this is per an internal DHS Memo by the way, not just random hearsay). Many of them at any given time are carrying live-round AR-15s. It makes them unpredictable, not because they are being clever but because they are doing shit that is illogical and makes no tactical sense. They’re shooting weapons designed to explode overheard directly at people’s chests. They’re firing into crowds with things they can’t aim. And they’re doing it to black youth, and vets, and moms, and clergy members, and reporters, and medics. The first night I was there a vet at the fence around the courthouse went into a PTSD-induced catatonic attack when the first flashbang went off. Another medic and I ran to him and when we realized we couldn’t move him (he was a big dude and clenched up tight in a ball), we tried to cover him with our bodies as the tear gas was going off. The feds response was to toss 7 more grenades over the fence directly at us, even though we were clearly no threat to them. All seven exploded within five feet of me. Later that evening I was treating a young woman who’d been hit in the hand with a canister. She told me she’d been hit in the head with a baton round two days before but came back because “what they don’t understand is I’m ready to die for this shit. It’s been too long, we’re not letting it go away this time. I don’t want to die, but if these fuckers kill me I’ll know I died for something that fucking matters.” It made me cry and she and I held each other for a minute as we moved out of the advancing cloud of tear gas. Despite Chad Wolfe’s claim in a recent press conference that there were “no reports of injuries to demonstrators” hundreds of people each night are requiring medical care for gas, and dozens more for impact and burn injuries. But we keep coming. I’ve been treating anywhere from 15-50 people a night and I’m just one of the dozens of medics out here. You can taste the tear gas as soon as you get within a few blocks of the courthouse, it’s been used so much it’s just lingering in the air now. (Someone out there with an environmental or public health degree, there is a case study here with your name on it!)
These guys are out of control, they have no clear end goal, and they’re losing. That’s a scary combo.
So what is there to do?
  1. If you can show up, show up. If you’ve never been before shoot me a message and we can talk safety. But if you can’t show up on the ground (and there are a million valid reasons that may be) find another way to help. Every little bit counts.
  2. Donate to orgs doing the work. Don’t Shoot Portland is the best social justice group in town, the ACLU and Rosehips Medic collective are both doing powerful work. I’m also happy to take money directly and I’ll make sure it goes to medical supplies and protective gear for folks on the ground. We’re going through N95s and respirator filters faster than we can keep up with, and we keep running out of stuff like gauze and cold packs. (The first night I was here I actually ran out of supplies in my med bag, which has never happened to me before in the hundred some odd protests I’ve been to). My venmo is Nate-Cohen-3.
  3. Call your congressional reps. The city of Portland gov isn’t super useful at the mo, as the feds are just ignoring them, but call your congresspeople and senators and beg them to do something before these fuckers kill someone. The Oregon Congressional Delegation is working on various tactics to try and get it to stop, ask your reps to support whatever Senator Ron Wyden Senator Jeff Merkley and Congressmen Earl Blumenauer are working on.
  4. Find Black-led orgs and businesses in your area and support them however you can. The big media narrative at the moment has been about the federal occupation, but on the ground for us this fight has always and continues to be a fight for Black Lives.
    I’m gonna be out of commission for a couple days probably, but I’m gonna be back out as soon as I can. I’m so fucking proud of this city I could weep. Stay together stay tight, we’ll do this every night. Black Lives Matter.
    #blacklivesmatter #nojusticenopeace #fuckdonaldtrump #fdt #RipCity #rosecity #stumptown #portlandprotest #portland #pdx #blm #FedsOutOfPortland #PDXprotest #teargasted #neveragain #antifascism #staytogetherstaytight #whosestreets #whosecity #wedothiseverynight #peoplepower #wethepeople #cantstopwontstop
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Why yes I was…


Trip Jennings
Federal agents shot me in the face last night while I was covering the Black Lives Matter protests in Portland. It should be obvious to everyone by now that BIPOC face a higher risk of violence at the hands of police than I do. I’ll never know what it’s like not to be white but protests do provide an interesting moment when white privilege does not fully protect us.

Below I explain what happened. Friends feel free to share. Media, do not repost without permission.

To everyone who believes that the only people who get hurt at protests are those who have been violent, that’s wrong. To those who think it is only “other people” who are not like you, that is also wrong. I am a professional journalist, a father-to-be, I run a business, I create jobs for other people, I’m a landlord, a neighbor, a friend, and I want to live in a world where black people and all BIPOC feel the freedom I normally do. I hope to help out by telling stories and bearing witness.

Last night (7/26) I was shooting photos from the center of the crowd when federal agents suddenly became more aggressive, firing lots of teargas and impact munitions into the large group of people. I retreated with the group, stumbling through the park across the street in clouds of tear gas. When I reached 4th street and got out of the thickest teargas, I stopped to figure out my next step. A line of federal agents (and possibly PPB) walked through the teargas cloud on Salmon toward the very dispersed group of people around me. We walked quickly away on Salmon Street following dispersal orders. There was suddenly a barrage of impact munitions fired around me so I ducked behind a car. Protesters in the street were positioned behind shields being pelted with pepper balls, foam balls, and maybe some sort of paintball and/or rubber bullets. I captured a few images and waited. Once the shooting stopped, I used the moment to try to get a safe distance from the advancing federal agents. I walked swiftly, hands and camera in the air, ducked behind a tree some distance down the block, and turned to see if I was far enough away to be safe. As I turned, I was pelted with what I think were pepper balls. One hit the lens of my gas mask on my left eye. The plastic broke, lacerating my eye, eyelid, and cheek. I knelt down to assess and when I realized I could walk and see, I ran to 5th street and began asking folks to help me find a medic. Shortly, 3 medics responded. I took my gas mask and helmet off and one said, “oh my god, that’s bad!” I cannot say enough good things about these medics. I am beyond grateful for their work. But, that reaction wasn’t my favorite part.

In a moment we were in their car on our way to the hospital. Unfortunately, the car was facing down the hill toward the troops. They had advanced and we had to pull forward to leave the street parking. In a moment they were surrounding the car, pointing flashlights and guns at us. I pressed my face close to the window, pointed to my now very bloody face, and yelled “hospital”. The medics slowly back up as the feds shot the vehicle with more impact munitions. No windows were broken. On the way to the hospital, we drove through clouds of teargas so windows stayed shut and the pepper spray on my clothing and bag choked us all.

In urgent care, the doctor left the room multiple times as the pepper on me caused her to cough uncontrollably. She wore a respirator to stitch my eye. As I left the hospital near sunrise, another protester was being admitted with the same injury.

I have the option of going to a protest and putting myself at risk of police violence. Or I can choose to stay out of harm’s way. For Black Americans, there is no opting out of the risk of police violence in everyday life. This was incredibly scary and stressful for me and my wife, but we know we only have to experience this once in a while, and when we do it’s often by choice. Many people in our community live with this fear every day. This has to stop, we have to make this change. Black Lives do Matter.

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You may remember him getting pepper sprayed by the feds directly in the face!

Copied from a friend:
Last night PPB seemed to have zero concern for who they hurt while rushing lines of protestors. When cops first lined up in the back of the JC we all went to meet them with our shields and umbrellas. They immediately rushed us while yelling to get on the sidewalk while mocking people. There is no sidewalk, they’ve fenced completely around it. So they beat any of us who were in the back of the crowd with batons and pushed us into each other and if anyone talked back they used bear mace or tackled them. As we were pushed out into the intersection one block away PPB lined up and rushed again, this time taking down this gentlemen Mike Hastie without showing any concern that he went down hard. He was taking photos on a nice camera. He’s a Vietnam vet.

Someone helped me guide him to the parking garage and out of the way so I could assess his injuries. He insisted he was fine until I insisted the blood wasn’t stopping. PPB rocked him so hard he kept asking to go find his glasses and they were on his face. I was able to stop the bleeding, gauze and bandage his face, clean him up, and give him my Be Kind mask since his was soaked in his blood (and my cell phone too😷.) PPB gassed the entire street while I was taking care of Mike. Not very long after PPB bear maced a friend who was trying to help a person up who had fell and been maced right in front of her. Then later by the art museum PPB pushed several people DOWN THE STAIRS while forcing them one direction. If you’re still somehow not very upset please just come down and see for yourself. You don’t even have to stay late, they are using excessive force as early as 930pm some nights. See for yourself and spread the word. DEFUND PPB OR BUST.










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Jac Lyn
***This is long, but it is our reality. Please take the time to read it.

My partner Isaac, like many other Americans, was laid off due to the pandemic. After months of searching, He recently got a job working for the US Census :woman_shrugging:t4: sometimes you gotta take what you can get. We were both scared, going door to door as a Black man in a country ran by a white supremacist, fucking terrifying. Surprisingly, people have been kind or at least civil with him. Let’s be real, no one likes the census ppl knocking on their door. :weary:

Until today, he had two cases left. He finishes up one and a older white man (pictured) comes out yelling at him “are you Antifa?? Get the fuck outta here You got a helmet on and a mask Antifa get outta here!!”


Isaac also had on a maroon Nike dry fit shirt, grey shorts and salmon colored nike shoes.

Isaac said “I am here to do my job, I have a bike and there is a pandemic”

Then another guy (also pictured) comes out on to the balcony and starts yelling “Get the fuck outta here antifa we don’t want your kind here you fucking piece of shit” and proceeded to spit off of his balcony at Isaac.

The racist duo continues to scream and yell at him to “get the fuck outta here” as he rides away on his bike, unable to finish his GOVERNMENT JOB.

Right at this time I am getting off work. Isaac calls me and tells me to come meet him, NOW. He hangs up so I’m panicking. I rush over but it’s a 15 min drive. It felt like forever. I get there and see him out of breath and visibly traumatized. We disassemble his bike load it up into my car and try to figure out what we can do. It’s 5:30 so I hold on to hope that maybe the leasing office is still open, I call and speak to two Women about the actions of their tenants. They are both mortified and ask us to come back so they can file a police report and deal with their tenants legally. I go back and fourth with the women on the phone letting them know we do not feel comfortable with the police and do not believe they will help but she persuades us & promises that her and her team will stand out there and support us fully but they cannot take actions on their tenants without a police report. We go back and there is 2 white women standing out front waiting for us, as well as a young Black man. He later goes back inside, understandably.

They watch the video, confirm they know these tenants and apologize profusely as we wait for a responding officer. It takes about 30 mins. A male officer pulls up and is calm and respectful as he let us know we are being audio and video recorded. We began to explain what happened and each of our roles in the scenario. The cop chuckles at the women who tell him they are here to support us and will not be going back inside, although he suggested it. Just then a female officer arrives. She parks in the middle of the road and comes aggressively towards us yelling “alright who is everyone” the male cop explains what we just told him and they both chuckle about the property managers who are standing with us. The female cop, who is speaking very loud and aggressively begins to ask Isaac for his ID and if he wants the man who spit on him arrested and if he is willing to go to grand jury for it?? :thinking: we are all confused and Isaac says “I want charges pressed and a report filed.” She interrupts him, again yelling and using her hands saying “well we need a victim willing to go to grand jury or we can’t arrest anyone. We need someone one who will cooperate and testify are you going to back out?” the property manager chimes in and says “is it not a crime to spit on some one??? That person needs to be arrested”

Isaac asks when did they start asking these questions to a victim before arresting the criminal. The officer again cuts him off by yelling “if you’re not going to cooperate I can’t help you, I need your ID, address and work info!”

At this point I’m terrified. This officer is being aggressive and making us all uncomfortable.

Isaac then clearly states that she is making him uncomfortable and he no longer wants to speak with her.

The officer says “what why?? Because I’m talking loud I always talk loud I have a mask on I always do and I talk with my hands what do you want me to do?!” We all say nothing, she is being explosive and making everyone uncomfortable, even the other officer. He then tells us “we are free to go” uhhh hello we aren’t the criminals here.

He again tells us to go and Isaac states we need to walk in your direction & don’t feel safe doing so.

The cops both walk to their cars and speed off, the male cops waves as if he had some decency.

We are both in shock, I’m crying. The 2 property managers are also crying and in disbelief. They witnessed first hand what it’s like to be a Black person in this country. Their presence and support wasn’t enough. They ask us what they can do and apologize some more. We leave.

We won’t pretend this wasn’t about the color of his skin. But according to their accusations, People are so brainwashed by Fox News and the GOP that anyone wearing a helmet and a mask is “Antifa” which by the way is short for anti-fascists. Every single true American patriot should be anti-fascist, that’s kinda the whole point of the USA…

I am thankful for allies like the two property managers of that complex. I don’t want to imagine how it could have gone without them.

Fuck the Police. ACAB. This cannot be reformed.

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