Figure Out How To Help, Portland
For the past six weeks, demonstrators filled the streets of Portland carrying signs that read "I Can't Breathe" in support of George Floyd.
The first vigil began with songs and speeches of solidarity in a rose-filled Peninsula Park on May 29, and ended with a state of emergency declaration and a citywide curfew, shattered storefronts and speeches from leaders, choppers circling overhead and cars set ablaze, tear gas and pepper spray.
Subsequent protests have been mostly peaceful, and waxing and waning in numbers, until the arrival of federal officers in the city in mid-July, dispatched by the Trump administration and disavowed by local and state officials. Their uses of brute force, including indiscriminate use of tear gas, pepper spray, flash bangs and grabbing protesters off the streets and spiriting them away in unmarked vans, detaining them without charges, have reinvigorated the protests.
Perhaps today, you were lucky enough to wake up and remind yourself that fires can be put out and windows can be repaired, though death is permanent. Perhaps today, you want to help our city put itself back together again, again. Here are a few ways to begin.
SHOW UP: Gatherings are popping up around the city, but protesters usually converge around the downtown Justice Center around 8 pm. If you're going, seasoned protesters advise going in pairs, and have someone hanging back with extra masks, googles (ski, swim, snowboard are fine), wet cloths/baby wipes,water, milk of magnesia and other anti-gas agents, in case of getting tear-gassed or pepper-sprayed.
HAND OVER: Local street medic volunteers are the first lines of defense for those who have been gassed by police. Two groups--Rosehip Medic Collective and Portland Action Medics--are now collecting old bike helmets and googles that can be distributed to protesters for their safety. You can also donate directly to Rosehip Medic Collective to help keep them stocked with supplies to help protesters who have been gassed or harmed in confrontations with the police.
PAY UP: Donate to a GoFundMe set up to cover bail and other expenses for Portland protesters arrested while demonstrating against Floyd’s murder and police brutality. Or, give to Equitable Giving Circle, a new grassroots effort that aims to shift economic power to communities of Black, indigenous and people of color, whose first initiative is to purchase Community Supported Agriculture boxes from farmers of color and donate them to households of color who are in need during the pandemic. Another choice: the Black Resilience Fund, organized by activist Cameron Whitten, which is collecting donations for immediate support of Black Portlanders, including groceries, unpaid bills and student loans.
JOIN UP: There are many organizations in Portland fighting systemic racism, essentially all of them running on shoestring budgets. If you can, support organizations like the Portland NAACP, the Urban League of Portland, the Black Lives Matter Portland chapter, Generational Resistance PDX, and Don’t Shoot Portland. You can volunteer, donate, become a sustaining member, and support them out loud and online.
EAT UP: Today (and every day) feels like a good time to support restaurants owned by Black Portlanders. Check out the excellent directory compiled by iloveblackfood.com, and get your takeout—while wearing a mask, please. Also, keep an eye out for restaurants all over town that are supporting the cause, including Everybody Eats PDX, a Cajon/Creole spot with a takeout counter inside Oriental Food Market on SE Powell, which this week partnered with Don't Shoot Portland to give away 200 free meals to supporters of Black Lives Matter. (Don’t stop there—support small, local minority-owned businesses—a helpful guide is here.)
SIGN UP: Put your name on the petition to get the Centers for Disease Control to recognize that racism is a threat to public health, spearheaded by Leslie Gregory, a Black female physician assistant who is based in Portland.
FOLLOW UP: Find the people of color who are telling this story on social media in real-time, and pay attention to what they’ve got to say. A few suggestions: @TrueNkenge, @JoAnnPDX,
Video footage from Friday, May 29. Courtesy Sergio Olmos