Tear Gas, Beatings and Projectiles in Portland

The last couple of nights I have been heavily involved in demonstrations in Portland, Oregon. ( July 18-19, 2020.) As most of you probably know these demonstrations have been going on in front of the Federal Justice  Center for over 50 straight nights. Since Trump called in the Feds, the  turmoil and violence has escalated. We all know what Trump is doing, the Feds are baiting the demonstrators, and when they react to the  police violence, Fox News is there to convince the American people that the demonstrators are the bad guys, and the police are the good guys. This is a political recipe that is as old as lying itself. The Feds and  the News want to shape public opinion that these violent protests are being committed by mobs of anarchists and thugs. Now, if the American people really want to know about mobs and thugs, they can go back in  history and examine the U.S. Empire, when their military is sent all over the world to steal and murder for corporate profits. But, I am getting ahead of myself, as the U.S. swarming locust have come to Portland to convince people all over the nation that the Federal Government is protecting us  from violent descent. The murder of George Floyd, and so many other  Black Americans has set off a powerful Rebellion. Black Lives Matter  has awakened, and it has become the consciousness of a sleeping giant.

The last couple of nights have been very intense, as I have been tear gassed  and shot at with a projectile round while carrying 2 Nikon cameras shooting  as fast as I can take pictures. I am 75, but when the adrenaline is pumping and   you are running from the cops, my engine body is 35. It’s either that, or you fall  flat on your face and inhale mass quantities of CS gas. If you are close to the cops, you never know what they will launch. In this article, I am including two photographs.

The  first photo was taken on July 18, 2020. I was very fortunate to get this image, because shortly after I took it, I got consumed by CS gas. That gas makes you very  humble, as you just turn and get the hell out of that space. Shortly after that I got my eyes washed out by a medic. This picture, as you might recognize, is now a video   that has gone viral with over nine million hits. The protester in the picture is a   Navy vet, Christopher David, who is 53, and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.

This was his first demonstration, and he made a huge introduction into the world  of bearing witness. If you look at the picture closely, his right hand is trying to  block the cop’s hand as the cop is hitting him with pepper spray, which you can see. While this is going on, another cop his hitting Christopher David on the legs  with a long baton. That cop also hit him in the hand and broke two bones. And,  while this is all going on CS gas is everywhere. Seconds after I took this picture, this Navy vet turns the opposite direction and flips the cops off with both fingers. This  is a remarkable story, as this protester stood his fucking ground.

The bottom phot is an image I took on July 19, 2020. On this  particular night, the cops chased us a couple of blocks. They then started firing projectiles at us from a couple of different weapons, to include more tear gas. As you can see in  this picture, the cop on the far right has just fired a munition round. One round  set off a fire, which the protesters quickly put out. I took a few more pictures of the cops firing what they like to call less than lethal riot munitions. As the cops  backed away from the intersection, one of them fired a round at me, as I saw it coming and hurriedly stepped out of the way, as it missed me by a few feet. I  can’t imagine taking a direct hit from one of these rounds, because it can kill  you if it hits you in the head. This is exactly what almost happened to a 26-year-old  man last week who was hit in the head by a projectile across the street from the Federal Justice Center. His name is Donavan La Bella. He was knocked  unconscious, and you can still see his blood on the sidewalk. He was sent to  the hospital where emergency reconstructive surgery was performed. He  will survive.

It is hard to tell where this stand-off with the police is going. The Feds don’t  know this town, so they think they can control the tens of thousands of activists who live in Portland, Oregon, which George H.W. Bush labeled, ” Little Beirut.”

The Feds are playing a chess game with Portland. If there is more overwhelming  violence against protesters, and more people get injured, or possibly killed, the  call from social media will bring out 50 thousand people to the streets. I have  been around these black belt protesters a lot, they are fearless, and I might say, they have become professional. As John Lewis once said: ” Find a way to get in the way.” His legacy is now in Portland, Oregon. I need to close, as John Lewis is calling me to prepare for another night.

Mike Hastie served as an Army Medic in Vietnam.