Election Night Unity March

A Portlander shares their perspective on the November 3rd Unity March.

Protestors held an Election Night March yesterday while close margins of election returns, both local and national, percolated over social media & the airwaves. The evening began at Revolution Hall where Black speakers brought up a spectrum of immediate and concerning topics. 

The recent death of Kevin E. Peterson Jr. in Vancouver, WA, at the hands of local LEOs was at the forefront. Folks are still reeling from his death, as well as the perverted attempt of local far right residents to hijack and disrupt a vigil held last Friday by the Peterson family and Black community. Members of press were called out specifically for giving undue attention to these troublemakers as one far right extremist haphazardly and aggressively patrolled past the vigil along Hwy 99 with an assault rifle.

Sadly, that night, the press pool looked more like paparazzi.  The speaker felt particularly upset because it gives unnecessary agency, perhaps even clout, to far-right extremists whom have neither earned nor deserve any sort of status, let alone celebrity status. Another speaker brought up the poignant, contrasting notions of living in a society, siloed from your neighbors, in isolation, versus the importance of living in and supporting your community. Much of the address was a call to action to get people to further do what they can to look out for one another as well as the last, the least, and the lost. Shortly thereafter, a speaker led the crowd in reciting together activist Assata Shakur’s infamous chant:

“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

Speakers reminded protestors of Shakur’s storied past as a victim of the FBI’s illegal, and notoriously dubious counterintelligence program: COINTEL Pro. This seemed serendipitous, given earlier that day, Portlanders awoke to learn via DHS Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari’s recently released report that DHS officers in Portland did not have proper authority nor training to act as legitimate LEOs and were instead, much like the days of COINTEL Pro, operating in a far overreaching capacity that, in this particular iteration of illegal tactics, saw downtown fumigated on summer nights with the most potent of top-shelf tear gas as well as blatant and repeated violations of Portlander’s first amendment rights in protest of Black Lives Matter. 

Most flagrantly noteworthy, of course, was the multiple abductions of protestors that summer by Federal officers into unmarked vehicles. While the federal fallout and local residue of these recent events linger heavy and profuse, and certainly repetitive, protesters did find some momentary solace and perhaps atonement as they marched last night singing songs like Wade in the Water & Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah while holding flashlights/cellphone lights above their heads as the march returned to where it all started, Revolution Hall. What’s in store for the future, who will lead this city, who will seek traction at holding LEOs accountable, who will lead this nation, and how they will lead, is pretty much up in the air and seemingly about to reach terminal velocity in this ongoing political theater.