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The Police Force Stampede in Portland on August 8, 2020 

I was in attendance of another BLM demonstration  in Portland, Oregon this weekend. I say attendance,  because eventually if there is going to be any real  changes in this country, we need more attendance. If there is going to be real Police Reform in the U.S. then the resistance calling for that reform has to be  constant, or shall we say relentless. That is why the  demonstrations have been going on every night in  Portland for the past 70 + days. There are certainly  a lot of different opinions as to how that should be  played out. It is hard to tell where this is all going  in Portland, or any other major city across America. And, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has put so many things on drastic hold.

There is one thing that is certain, I continue to learn  from every African-American I hear speak on racism, and how it affects their lives on a daily basis. Many  Black speakers I have heard or met, have been more vulnerable to white audiences. I feel they are taking  more risks in communicating their pain and suffering with white people who they have distrusted for most of their lives. They obviously live in a world that is far different than the white world, and every time they speak, the depth of that difference is more profound. As a result of my connection with Black soldiers in my unit in Viet Nam, and the things they revealed to me, I started to understand  racism at a deeper level when I was listening and watching  their reactions to what was going on around all of us while the United States Government demonized the Vietnamese  people with racist ideology by referring to the Vietnamese as ” Gooks.” There is absolutely no one on the face of the  Earth who is inferior based on skin color or ethnicity. This truth should be the corner stone of all humanity, but unfortunately racism is the cancer of the world.

The demonstration I was present at last night was very  intense, because the location was a residential area, so the police were reluctant to use tear gas because it would permeate the entire neighborhood. As a result of not being  able to use that chemical weapon, the police came at us like a stampede of cattle. There were many flash-bang grenades  used, while police would charge us, and then retreat to an  intersection, regroup, and then charge again. There were  several arrests, as many protesters were in close contact with the police. I was taking pictures up close, because that is where  you have to be in order to get meaningful images of what is going on in front of you, even if the cops are shoving you. I think having two large cameras provides some protection, because the police  can see both of my hands. There were objects thrown at the  police, along with lasers being pointed at them. There were some protesters knocked down to the street, where the cops used their batons, and in at least one occasion a protester was kicked by a  policeman. This happened near a tall van, while I was on the other side of the vehicle. It is still hard to tell where all of these protests  in Portland will end up. There is a very unusual momentum going  on here. Ted Wheeler, the Portland mayor thinks if the protests continue, it will be used to Trump’s advantage come election time.

I do not have an opinion on this, but I would like to be a silent white person in the room while African-Americans discuss if these protests  are a hindrance to Black Lives Matter. I do feel white protesters offer  some protection for African-Americans, who only represent 6% of the Portland population. I cannot believe what has happened in the United States since George Floyd’s execution by a white police officer  was videoed and sent around the world. We shall see how this turmoil  is dealt with, while at the same time America continues to be a Brutal  Global Empire.

“No Lie Can Live Forever.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Mike Hastie served as an Army Medic in Vietnam.

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