By Deborah Bloom (AFP)
Jul 22, 2020 in World
Standing in front of a huge crowd, 21- year-old Teal Lindseth marches quickly through downtown Portland screaming into a bullhorn.
” Inform me what democracy looks like,” she weeps out as more than a thousand demonstrators respond: “This is what democracy appears like.”
Their voices boom through blocks of high-rises and boarded-up shops in the city located in the western US state of Oregon.
Earlier demonstrations in Portland– and much of the United States– to knock bigotry and police cruelty following the death of African-American male George Floyd at the hands of a white policeman, started slowing at the start of July.
However then reports emerged of camouflaged federal officers taking up Portland protesters in unmarked lorries.
Now, the demonstrations have increase, with thousands appearing daily to take on with cops well into the night.
The agents, deployed from the Department of Homeland Security, have used tear gas, rubber bullets, flashbangs, and other munitions to disperse the nightly crowds.
” Right or left, I believe here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re all very much opposed to the federal government taking over our streets,” stated Carlos, a demonstrator marching late Monday who asked to be identified only by his given name.
” When you send federal soldiers here, you’re incensing the entire area.”
Carlos, like Lindseth, is an African American in his early 20 s who brought a loudspeaker to whip up the crowd.
” I’m hesitant to call myself a leader,” he informed AFP. “I just speak up whenever the crowd seems directionless.”
The nightly protests start with assemblies and marches and often end with individuals getting run over, beaten, and pepper-sprayed by regional authorities.
The Portland Cops Bureau says it is reacting to criminal activity — particularly demonstrators chucking rocks and water bottles at officers, along with shining flashlights and lasers at them.
President Donald Trump for his part states the federal law enforcement forces exist to bring back order, explaining the protesters as “anarchists and agitators” and threatening to send out federal officers to more US cities.
One video posted to social networks July 12 reveals a protester being shot in the face with a rubber bullet and bleeding a lot.
The protestor had to go through reconstructive surgery and is making a complete recovery, according to The Oregonian.
– ‘Feds go home’ –
A few days later, another video on social media emerged of two federal agents leaping out of an unmarked minivan and nabbing up a protester as he backed away with his hands up.
Federal cops distribute a crowd of about a thousand protesters at the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Court House on July 20, 2020 in Portland
Nathan Howard, GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP
The unknown woman carried out some ballet relocations and sat briefly on the ground, in front of an authorities line, prior to disappearing.
The increased presence of federal forces has actually drawn criticism from Democratic lawmakers, regional leaders and civil rights groups– and hardened the willpower of the protesters.
” Feds go home,” the demonstrators yelled on Monday, pledging to continue their action.
Outside the main authorities precinct, demonstrators waved their cellular phone lights as Lindseth led them in a broken rendition of “We Shall Overcome.”
However the situation turned ugly after midnight as a small group of individuals moved toward the federal courthouse and attempted to eliminate the fence around the building.
Without warning, federal enforcement officers started streaming out of the structure, throwing tear gas canisters and shooting rubber bullets and sting balls to disperse the crowd.
One masked demonstrator hurled an expletive at the officers while others tossed back a few of the gas canisters.
” Stay together, stay tight,” the protesters chanted, pulling back from the tear gas. “We do this every night.”