Portland has been given over to the mob

Cowardly politicians let the protests spiral out of control.

Sean Collins
US correspondent

Topics Politics USA

In most US cities, the protests and riots that took off in the days after George Floyd’s death have quieted. But not in Portland, Oregon. Yesterday saw the 64th consecutive night of demonstrations, which have included significant violence and property destruction. Among other things, these events have had a devastating impact on the city’s economy and people’s livelihoods: estimated protest-related damage and lost revenues for businesses, most of them small, are in the tens of millions, according to a survey by Portland Business Alliance.

Many protesters in Portland gather under the slogans of Black Lives Matter, such as ‘Defund the police’. But it’s hard to see a connection with George Floyd any more. Even as state and local officials have announced police reforms, there is no let-up on the streets. Portland is known for its progressive, woke politics, as anyone who has watched the TV series Portlandia knows. It is one of the whitest, least diverse major cities in the US (six per cent of its population is black), yet it has seen the most protest-related destruction. Meanwhile, largely black cities like Detroit (83 per cent black) remain relatively calm.

In recent weeks, bands of anarchists, along with assorted others, have attacked the Hatfield federal courthouse and the federal law-enforcement officers that President Trump deployed to protect it. Rioters have thrown Molotov cocktails, frozen water bottles, rocks, cans of beans. They have fired commercial-grade fireworks at the officers, smashed glass doors and used saws and power tools to try to break in. One night they set fire to the courthouse. Nearly 245 federal agents have been injured, and the damages are in the millions of dollars. In response, the feds have used tear gas and shot rubber bullets, along with making arrests. As a US deputy marshal said, the street ‘looks like downtown Baghdad’.

This level of destruction is exceptional and a major news story. And many Americans have seen the extraordinary nightly battle images from Portland on TV or social media. Yet, when confronted with such scenes, a large section of the media has been going to great lengths to tell its audience that Portland’s protests are ‘mostly peaceful’. As a CNN write-up put it, ‘The protests in Portland were mostly peaceful, though they have at times devolved into violence, vandalism and arson’. Or, as Reuters blandly noted, ‘Peaceful protests and more arrests in Portland as demonstrations continue in the city’.

It’s true that most protesters in Portland are peaceful. At times there is a carnival-like atmosphere, with thousands of people singing and dancing in the streets – which is not a surprise when you consider that a BLM protest is the only public gathering, amid Covid, that is allowed by government officials. At the same time, when the midnight hour rolls along, the crowd changes and a minority gears up for warfare. Even that warfare should not be overstated, as there is certainly a highly performative aspect to their violent behaviour – these set-piece skirmishes with the feds have devolved into a nightly routine. White youth don ridiculous-looking outfits (black ninja costumes, tear-gas masks, medieval-like shields, sometimes umbrellas), and get to play at rebellion.

But providing a wider context like this should not be an excuse for whitewashing the reality of destruction that is occurring every night in Portland, as much of the media are doing. In a society based on the rule of law, seeking to burn down a courthouse cannot be viewed as acceptable, just a minor thing (it’s hard to believe that needs to be said). In the past, an attack on a courthouse would have been readily seen for what it is: an assault on an institution of justice, and an act that usurps democratic decision-making. It also does nothing to advance the cause of fighting racial discrimination.

Our media and other cultural outlets know that rioting and violence are occurring in Portland, but they fear that admitting that fact will undermine their agenda. They worry that these events will tarnish the image of BLM, and bolster Trump’s ‘law and order’ campaign. Better keep your mouth shut, or to assert, as the Democrat congressman Jerry Nadler does, that civil unrest in Portland is a ‘myth’. Today’s conformism has reached the point where you can be considered a racist for simply acknowledging the reality of what is going on in Portland and some other cities.

That’s also why Democratic politicians decided to come up with a counter-narrative: that federal officers deployed to Portland are the real threat. Indeed, in all seriousness, Democrats have presented these law-enforcement professionals as introducing fascism to America. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, called them ‘stormtroopers’, engaged in ‘kidnapping protesters’. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez referred to them as ‘secret police’. More locally, the Democrat mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, called the federal presence ‘a direct threat to our democracy’. The city’s commissioner, Choloe Eudaly, said Trump was ‘attempting to use Portland as a proving ground for fascism’.

Democrats sought to back up these allegations by pointing to a series of viral videos that purportedly showed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officers getting out of unmarked cars and arresting people for no reason. Oregon governor Kate Brown said the federal agents are an ‘occupying force’ and represented an ‘unconstitutional’ abuse of power.

Despite the hype about incipient fascism, Trump’s deployment of federal law enforcers is well within the law. Federal law gives the DHS the right to protect federal property like the Hatfield courthouse. They are allowed to make arrests of those suspected of attacking that property, and in Portland their arrests have not been random – the feds have arrested 74 people and most (60) have been charged. The use of unmarked cars may be news to some, but they have been commonly used in all US cities for many years. You can question the wisdom of Trump sending in these federal agents, but it’s clearly legal and not ‘fascism’.

Moreover, the Democrats’ storyline depends on us believing that, if not for the federal law officers, everything in Portland would be fine. Mayor Wheeler said Trump’s men were the ones pouring fuel on the fire, and barring their presence, the protests ‘would end in a matter of days’. This of course ignores the fact that rioting – including attacks on the courthouse – had been going on for months, well before the feds turned up.

Of course, the federal agents’ tactics, while legal, are open to criticism. For example, it may be that, in trying to quell the attackers, they have indiscriminately tear-gassed the crowds, not all of whom were violent. But denunciations of federal ‘fascism’ are an attempt to deflect the blame from where it belongs – the state and city leaders who have let Portland get out of control.

Indeed, the mayor and state governor have effectively given a green light to violent protesters, as they have signalled that there will be no negative consequences. They ordered the local police to back off, which ceded the ground to the anarchists. Democratic politicians say that Trump, by sending in federal officers, is seeking to use Portland to his political advantage. That’s true, but it’s the Democrats’ fault for creating the conditions in the city that make it easy for Trump to exploit.

There are reports that Oregon governor Brown and the DHS have reached a deal, whereby the Oregon state police will take over the job of guarding Hatfield courthouse. If so, the burden will fall back mainly on Brown and Wheeler to see if they can bring order. If they can’t get control, they will no longer be able to fall back on blaming Trump and the federal authorities for their own mess.

We have enough social problems and divisions to deal with as it is. Media and political figures who deny the truth of what’s happening in cities like Portland make it harder to get to grips with our real problems.

Sean Collins is a writer based in New York. Visit his blog, The American Situation.

Picture by: Getty.

Let’s cancel cancel culture

Free speech is under attack from all sides – from illiberal laws, from a stifling climate of conformity, and from a powerful, prevailing fear of being outed as a heretic online, in the workplace, or even among friends, for uttering a dissenting thought. This is why we at spiked are stepping up our fight for speech, expanding our output and remaking the case for this most foundational liberty. But to do that we need your help. spiked – unlike so many things these days – is free. We rely on our loyal readers to fund our journalism. So if you want to support us, please do consider becoming a regular donor. Even £5 per month can be a huge help. You can find out more and sign up here. Thank you! And keep speaking freely.

Donate now

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


Stephen Haxby

5th August 2020 at 10:40 pm

“Media … figures who deny the truth of what’s happening in cities like Portland make it harder to get to grips with our real problems.”

Well yes I suppose they do. I suppose they forego all trust in their ability to relay actual news, let alone lecture us on the evils of Trump. You might even suppose they were part of a corporatist collusion with parts of the states, and corporates giving force to the totalitarian woke by sacking and humiliating people. You might suppose that this is fascism, awaiting only the election of the Democrats who will cut a deal with their street thugs BLM (who have just gone full paramilitary in the UK) to effect a control of terror on the street and in the office.

Travis Henderson

4th August 2020 at 7:38 pm

I read a report in the New York Times interviewing the protesters. They were arguing amongst themselves whether to set fire to a plywood barrier erected around the federal property they were attacking. I checked the statutes and this setting fire is a serious federal crime carrying a maximum penalty of 25 years, or life if lives are risked. What happened to law and order?

Travis Henderson

4th August 2020 at 7:33 pm

I noticed an interesting coïncidence relating to the George Floyd incident. I wonder did anyone else.

The original reason for the call to the Police was a forged banknote. The coincidence is that it was in the same state, Minnesota, where the Customs and Border Patrol intercepted fake banknotes from China last winter. https://www.insider.com/900000-dollars-counterfeit-money-customs-seizure-minnesota-one-dollar-bills-2020-1

Jeremiah Johndon

3rd August 2020 at 4:55 am

“They are insulting the memory of George Floyd, says Sean Collins”
The great moralist and philanthropist Mr Floyd.


2nd August 2020 at 9:18 pm

They are protesting outside the federal courts because they are hoping Trump will send in the troops and there will be a Kent State moment-so far he has avoided that elephant trap.

Jonathan Anthony

1st August 2020 at 1:58 pm

Anyone who has been watching anti activities in Portland for the past two years, largely through the reporting of Andy Ngo, knows full well exactly what is going on there. This has nothing to do with BLM, it is Antifa, in its stronghold, trying have its Waterloo, hence the focus on the Federal court building.

The point has to be made clear to UK readers that the Federal Government in the US is different to the state’s governship and indeed that of the Mayor’s office over the city of Portland. In this case the latter is complicit with antifa, and has been for some time, in that for the past two years Antifa has been allowed to ‘retake the streets’ without any response from local police, under the guidance of Mayor ‘tear-gas’ Ted Wheeler. However when it comes to Federal government court building, the federal government does just have the right to send in Federal officers to protect it, it is bound by the constitution to do so. To say Trump is ‘exploiting’ this situation is the worst sort of CNN-style analysis. He is doing his duty, and like any sensible campaigner, is not about to step in to prevent the Democrats making complete fools of themselves.

To this end, I’m surprised the author hasn’t mention their disgraceful performance this week in the House in their treatment of AG Barr. That event crystallised where this deadbeat opposition is now, and why they are simply handing Trump the next election.

But then this piece is typical Spiked, and an illustration as to why I no longer donate. It seems while most contributors are generally sound, there is a rather lazy anti-Trump bias at play every time his name is mentioned no matter how blameless, or credible his actions might have been in any given moment. There is little attempt to correct the astonishing amount of flat-out lies perpetrated by MSM, and, as seen here, a relatively soft touch when it comes to the Democrats, who, let’s face it, from day one have behaved like a criminal organisation, intent on overthrowing a free and fairly elected President, whether you like him personally or, in Spike’s case, not.

William Brown

1st August 2020 at 11:34 am

Wall them in, disconnect their wifi and access to amenities and services – Let them live in their own, painfully middle class, whitespew.


1st August 2020 at 10:24 am

This is Liberal Philosophy which is an addition to Bishop Berkeley’s subjective idealism. If millions see violence but BBC , CNN, Reuters see it as peaceful or Congressman Nadler declares the violence is a ‘myth’ that is the truth. It has to be declared peaceful protest as this is what is allowed by the constitution. In America the democrats are trying to overturn the constitution ( this has already happened in Britain with Lady Hale and the Supreme Court and was why the BLM protest marches were allowed -also described by BBC as peaceful ) and if they are successful they will not even bother with these semantic niceties.

Jim Lawrie

1st August 2020 at 11:54 am

The likes of Lady Hale etc … think they can unleash the mob and then call it to heel. Hers was the Parliamentary turncoats, and their talisman, Aidan O’Neill QC, whose belief that all of public life must be subject to the approval of the lawyers is unshakeable. He hides behind the ephemeral concept of “the law”, but intends that to be whatever he says it is. That is why he teaches his students that every legal case has a human rights element. He is training them to always present to the judiciary an opportunity to expand and restate the law in accordance with their own beliefs.
These people thirst for power, but without the inconvenience of having to be elected, or taking responsibility for the consequences of exercising that power.
In Scotland he is a cause celebre, and seen as having given the English Government a bloody nose in their own back yard. Questioning this appeal to anti-English sentiment and the tramelling of democracy is met with responses such as “Whose side you on/working class Tory!/Go back to f?”!ckn England”, plus threats of violence.

Jim Lawrie

31st July 2020 at 11:40 pm

Who who uses the words protesters and demonstrators to describe these thugs is on their side and as yellow as any politician.

steve moxon

31st July 2020 at 9:35 pm

It’s way overdue to give these bigots a giant kick up the arse (or the crotch, ideally).
Prejudice is NOT specifically re ‘race’: it’s towards males who are ‘different in some — any — way.
See … ‘The Falsity of Identity Politics: Negative Attitude is Towards Males who are Different, in Policing Sexual Access by Gate-Keeping Group Membership’. (2019). New Male Studies 8(2), 20-51.
Identity politics (often dubbed political correctness: PC) victim categories (protected characteristics) are shown to be false. Negative attitude is specifically towards males, and evoked by any form of significant difference. Previous findings that misogyny has no scientific basis, with the evidence instead of philogyny and misandry, extend to apply across all victim categories, trumping race or sexual orientation. This is revealed in the predominance of males as hate crime victims, the harsher attitude towards apparently more masculine subsets of sexual minority and race, and experimentally. Supposed homophobia is revealed to be a far wider phenomenon, encompassing all victim categories, manifest culturally in male initiation and scientifically evidenced across fields. It functions to gate-keep male full admission to the group, serving to police male sexual access, maximising reproductive efficiency, not to deal with out-group threat, nor to oppress (least of all females). Identity politics is extreme misrepresentation of social and inter-personal reality.

Jonathan Marshall

31st July 2020 at 8:50 pm

“Even as state and local officials have announced police reforms, there is no let-up on the streets”
And they’re surprised? As Kipling wisely wrote:

“And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.”

Cave in to the mob and they merely demand more.

Constantine Sotiriou

31st July 2020 at 8:24 pm

Portland is an odd place. Cracking strip clubs though.

Jonathan Marshall

31st July 2020 at 8:53 pm

I’m sure the first part of your comment is correct. I’ll take your word for the second part…

Martin Judge

31st July 2020 at 6:43 pm

What is equally sad is the lack of coverage on UK TV stations or in the printed press.

I write the occasional letter to the local paper. Unfortunately, any letter that mention far left anti-Semitism, rioting in the US or anything remotely supportive of Mr. Trump is not printed or the offending parts are edited out. All a bit depressing really.

The Reach organisation now controls much of the UK media including the Daily Mirror, Daily Express and a clutch of regional titles. I suspect it is Reach management and not local editors which is forcing this censorship by omission.

It’s not just the BBC , Sky, ITV and Channel 4, that have an agenda.

David J

1st August 2020 at 10:11 am

The UK MSM are notoriously disinterested in world affairs.
There is more foreign news available via five minutes on YouTube than in a week’s TV viewing on the BBC et al.

William Brown

1st August 2020 at 11:35 am

The long march has reached its destination.

Dominic Straiton

31st July 2020 at 4:17 pm

Portland is one of the whitest cities in the Us. It encapsulates perfectly the spoilt brat temper tantrum of blm. 60 days of non stop “protest”. Its a game. Its mods and rockers without having to go to work to make a living during the week. Its the most cushioned, spoilt generation in human history protesting …………nothing.

Dominic Straiton

31st July 2020 at 4:20 pm

English 1980s football hooligans would easily be able to kick the sht out of the poor luvs.

Vivian Darkbloom

31st July 2020 at 7:58 pm

Ha! You’re right there Dominic. We’ve seen nothing until it all kicks off here and in other European countries. The Gilets Jaunes haven’t gone away in France, they’re just on hiatus and they’re still enraged. There are millions of loons in Britain who have been ignored but are still here. And if it carries on like this then it’s a question of when not if. A few performative bougie wokes in the USA, backed by the establishment and doing revolutionary cosplay; don’t make me laugh. They’d run a mile from English and European casuals on the rampage.

Dominic Straiton

31st July 2020 at 9:57 pm

Unfortunately bread and circuses has destroyed the warrior instinct of the greatest marshal culture in human history. Did the same to Italy in history and Juventus.

Vivian Darkbloom

31st July 2020 at 10:29 pm

Be of good cheer my brother and fall not into black melancholy and despair.

“We have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit our selves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear. I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good-will of my subjects; and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live and die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust.”

“I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm: to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.”

Queen Elizabeth I Tilbury speech 1588

We can do this.

Ian Davies

1st August 2020 at 10:58 am

But you forget, if we all had universal basic income shaken from the magic money tree, we would all self actualise in poets and painters with our free time and the world would be filled with rose petals and endless summer balmy days.

Gordon Al Gopher

31st July 2020 at 3:34 pm

I’ve been to Portland and it’s crap. There’s nothing there, just a lighthouse. They made a tv show about it and that was crap too. I preferred Rentaghost.

Travis Henderson

4th August 2020 at 7:42 pm

I drove through it and it was not memorable at all. I’m happy though that it provides a place to keep miscellaneous drug users and abusers and miscellaneous idiots we see rioting on TV. This leaves the rest of Oregon and its beautiful forests unpolluted for non-degenerates.

Mor Vir

31st July 2020 at 2:19 pm

“a courthouse would have been readily seen for what it is: an assault on an institution of justice, and an act that usurps democratic decision-making”

Right, because the demos gets to vote on laws – any laws.

Funny, I cannot remember ever having a say on any laws.

2/3 in UK support the legalisation of recreational cannabis, when are we going to get to vote on that one?

85% support assisted dying, when will we vote on that?

We are we going to vote on any laws?

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to comment. Log in or Register now.

Deplorables — a spiked film