Wm. Steven Humphrey: Crying Wolf: If Portland Tourism Dies, You Can Thank Downtown Business Interests and the Police (Portland Mercury)
A tale of two years: In 2019, I received multiple texts from out-of-town relatives and friends begging to visit me in Portland. But then 2020 rolled around, and these are the type of texts I received:
“When are you moving back home? Stay safe!!”
“What is going on in Portland? I hear it’s a battle zone!”
“Riots in Portland? Are you okay? Call me now!”
Portland—once thought of as a whimsical doughnut-land filled with jolly weirdos on bikes—now has an absolutely terrible national reputation that’s less of a Portlandia episode, and more like one of Dante’s various levels of hell.
How did we get here? Well, zooming out, you can largely thank the national media (particularly FOX News) who often parroted willfully misleading police reports from last summer’s protests, and depicted events that were often confined to a few blocks as if the entire city was a war zone.
This spawned a slate of absolutely ludicrous headlines, most recently culminating in a commentary published last week in Forbes, "Death of a City: The Portland Story?" which compared our economic troubles—those shared by every. single. major. city. in. America.—to a fate reminiscent of the lava-buried victims of Pompeii.
So who's behind these wildly exaggerated visions of Portland reflected in the national media? Well, for one, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), who between May 29 and November 15, 2020 declared 30 demonstrations as “riots." Apparently all it takes to declare "a riot" these days is a very small percentage of a crowd throwing plastic water bottles and shaking fences.
Parsing out why the cops (or specifically the police union) want to spread this false narrative is easy: They don't want their budget cut, or to make any substantial changes—especially those connected to systemic racism or brutality. They rely on your continuing fear for their existence.
whentheycamedown is a project documenting the removal of statues representing white supremacy, oppression, genocide, colonialism, and racism throughout the world. This is a collaborative effort started by Emily Gorcenski, although the intention of the project is to open source contribution in the style of open knowledge.
This project takes the stance that the removal of statues represents an important and inextricable part of the history of the people, groups, and moments that those statues represent. Removing of statues, renaming of parks, and similar actions is not an act of erasing history, but an act of adding to history by capturing the spirit, beliefs, motivations, and actions of the people who lived during the times those statues stood. It is the goal of this project to document the people who aimed to remove the monuments more than the people represented by the monuments. The project seeks to document the history of the activists, their efforts to remove statues through proper and improper channels, and the history of the people oppressed by those who the statues represent.
Alex Zielinski: Wheeler Responds to Police Inaction During Saturday Brawl (Portland Mercury)
On Saturday night, a member of the public (who asked the Mercury to remain anonymous) sent an email to Wheeler, sharing their concerns about PPB's response to the daytime protest. The person wrote that officers' inaction was particularly upsetting to see when contrasted with PPB's routinely aggressive response to nightly demonstrations against police brutality.
An hour later, Wheeler responded.
"For days you’ve been telling me that PPB's response has been overbearing. So last night and tonight they tried something different, and you’re demanding more of a police presence? Do you see how there is a no-win situation here? What, specifically, would you expect them to do? Have 30 officers charge into a crowd of 300 people, many of them armed? Would you do that? Would you ask other people to do that? I’m not shading you, these are serious questions. What specifically would you do? I am honestly interested."
Staff have confirmed this email was sent by Wheeler. While the message was not meant to be a formal public statement, Wheeler's quick reaction offers a different story—one of frustration and genuine exhaustion surrounding the public's demands.
Rebecca Ellis: Portland’s protests: 3 months in, no end in sight (OPB)
Mayor Ted Wheeler says the city is "considering all options” to end nightly clashes between police, protesters, but he lacks a clear plan.
The worst nights follow the same script: A large group takes to the streets calling for an end to police violence and systemic racism. A small fraction commits low-level crimes — often lighting small fires, graffiti-ing buildings and throwing fireworks or water bottles at officers. The police respond with force against the entire crowd.
Over the last month, demonstrators have been battered with batons as they left protests. Police have charged at crowds until they’re pushed deep into residential neighborhoods. Journalists have been shoved and arrested. Tear gas, while used more sparingly than in the early days of the protests, is threatened near nightly. And police regularly shut down protests by declaring them riots. That happened twice over the weekend, though police declined to intervene as far-right activists, some brandishing firearms, brawled with counter-protesters for hours on Saturday afternoon.
“They’ve tried everything from not showing up to preemptively dispersing crowds, and some of those strategies, in my opinion, have worked well. Others have not worked well,” he said. “My expectation is the police bureau will evolve, and as they see a need for change, they’ll change.”
There are serious questions, however, over whether the city’s police oversight agency, which many including the mayor have called toothless, will be able to sort through the mounting reports of police violence. The office has been flooded by complaints since protests began. The director says they’ve received more than a year’s worth of new work.
Meanwhile, Hardesty has proposed an entirely new accountability system, which voters will weigh in on in November. If passed, the ballot measure would scrap the review agency completely and create a system with more independence and new powers.
Rebecca Solnit: As the George Floyd protests continue, let's be clear where the violence is coming from (Guardian)
Using damage to property as cover, US police have meted out shocking, indiscriminate brutality in the wake of the uprising.
The distinction between damaging or destroying human beings and inanimate objects matters. But it’s not simple. People trapped inside a burning building break down the doors to escape; an estranged husband with a restraining order breaks down a door to further terrorise his ex-wife. The same actions mean different things in different situations. Martin Luther King famously called riots “the voice of the unheard” – and as the outcry of people who have tried absolutely everything else for centuries, property damage means something very different from merely malicious or recreational destruction. When they riot, the black people most impacted by police brutality and by four centuries of poverty, dehumanisation and deprivation of basic rights and equality, are more like people trapped inside that burning house trying to break out.
There is no easy way to distinguish between ardent white supporters of a black uprising and black bloc-style white people who revel in property destruction, taunting the police and escalating situations (before often slipping away before the police crack down). They are anti-authoritarians opposed to police brutality and the overreach of the state, and should not be confused with the rightwing authoritarians who many fear will use the pandemonium as cover for their own agenda, which could include creating more chaos.
The story of activist violence is often used to justify police violence, but damage to property is not a justification for wholesale violence against children, passersby, journalists, protesters, or anyone at all. It is the police who should have lost their legitimacy, over and over, after the many individual killings from Eric Garner to Walter Scott to Breonna Taylor to George Floyd. And after reckless, entitled, out-of-control violence in police riots like that on Saturday night. Perhaps the point of their action this week is that they don’t need legitimacy, just power.
There’s one more kind of violence to talk about, and that’s structural violence. That’s the way that institutions and societies are organised to oppress a group of people, and for black Americans, that’s included slavery, the long terrorism of Jim Crow and lynching, voter suppression from the 19th century to the present, redlining (denying or charging more for necessary services) and subprime mortgages, discrimination in housing, education, and employment and far more.
Right now, several forms of structural violence that particularly matter are the chronic stress and lack of access to healthcare, housing issues, and work situations that have made black Americans die of Covid-19 at far higher rates than other races.
Ryan Haas, Sergio Olmos, Bradley W. Parks: Protesters fight using pepper spray, baseball bats in Portland on Saturday (OPB)
Protesters at Portland rallies to support police and show support for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign engaged in physical combat repeatedly with counterprotesters Saturday without police intervention. Members of the chaotic crowd used an array of weapons, including baseball bats and firearms to beat and threaten those they opposed.
Police said they did not declare a riot because they didn’t have the resources to handle one. After pro-Trump demonstrators left and counterprotesters returned to Terry Schrunk Plaza, federal officials declared an unlawful assembly.
Suzette Smith: Portland Police Stand By As Armed Alt-Right Protesters and Antifascists Brawl (Portland Mercury)
In years past, alt-right protest events involving out-of-towners generally saw a line of Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers standing between alt-right protesters and counter-protesters. But although the PPB used their LRAD loudspeaker system to make a handful of announcements to the groups—advising them that "everyone has the right to engage in the expression of first amendment rights" and that "officers [had] observed projectiles being thrown and people in possession of firearms"—they never intervened. In fact, there was no noticeable, physical police presence until around 2:15 pm when (as the groups pushed south on SW 3rd) federal officers filled the entryway of the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building. Those officers did not engage until the counter-protesters returned.
For most of the two and a half hour Hate, the No Marxism protesters chanted "U-S-A!," and the counter-protesters chanted "Stolen Land!" Participants on either side lobbed open juice containers, fireworks, rocks, and smoke bombs.
Both groups employed paint guns, and there were pellets whizzing past my ears from either side. Proud Boys member Alan Swinney stood behind a wall of alt-right protesters holding homemade shields and popped off paint rounds at the counter-protest crowd. A counter-protester grabbed my arm and tried to haul me from the area unsuccessfully. When I turned back to the alt-right line, I was about ten feet from Swinney casually pointing a handgun at me and the crowd around me.
As the counter-protesters returned to Terry Shrunk Plaza, the PPB broadcast from a patrol car that the gathering had been declared an unlawful assembly. This was the first announcement from PPB to actually declare an unlawful assembly, which seemed hypocritical—if not surprising—given the level of violence seen that afternoon, in comparison with protests where officers declared riots over thrown water bottles.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) federal police escorted some remaining right-wing attendees out of the crowd before they formed a line and pushed the counter-protesters onto SW Madison and into Chapman Square. They then fired pepper bullets into the crowd to cover their retreat into the Wyatt Building.
In a press release about the demonstrations, PPB explained their lack of engagement in the violent brawls this way:
"Incident commanders have to weigh out the entire situation to determine if police action is likely to make things safer or notIn this case there were hundreds of individuals and many weapons within the groups and an extremely limited amount of police resources actually available to address such a crowd. Additionally, PPB members have been the focus of over 80 days of violent actions directed at the police, which is a major consideration for determining if police resources are necessary to interject between two groups with individuals who appear to be willingly engaging in physical confrontations for short durations."
Yet, these restrictions didn't seem to limit PPB's ability to aggressively engage in anti-racist protests later Saturday night, using physical force to arrest and beat marching demonstrators. The only difference: There were no far-right protesters in attendance.
The Mercury reached out to Mayor Ted Wheeler's office for comment on PPB's relative inaction Saturday, but Wheeler—who also serves as the city police commissioner has yet to respond. The Mercury has also not received answers to questions posed to Portland's three sitting city commissioners about Saturday's police tactics.
Karina Brown: Black People Nearly Twice as Likely as Whites to Be Arrested at Portland Protests (Courthouse News)
State and local police in Portland have arrested over 550 protesters since mass protests began in Portland on May 29, sparked by outrage over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Black people make up 11% of those arrested — almost double the rate of Portland’s Black population.
“It is highly unlikely that a disparity this high is a result of composition of the protestors or criminal activity,” Dr. Mark Leymon, professor of criminology at Portland State University, said in an interview. “Research shows that people of color are not more likely to commit crime, especially in this context.”
Black people are 4.4 times more likely to be arrested in Multnomah County than white people, according to a 2014 study, and 4.1 times more likely to have their charges prosecuted by the district attorney.
The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission found in January that Portland police are twice as likely to search Black pedestrians and Black drivers during traffic stops than their white counterparts.
And arrest numbers are just the first step in a series of racially biased procedures that end up with Black people being six times more likely than white people to go to prison in Multnomah County.
“Everyone in the criminal justice system likes to point the finger at someone else for racial disparities,” Leymon said. “Cops say ‘We’re just arresting people who break the law.’ District attorneys say ‘We’re just prosecuting the cases you bring us.’ And judges say ‘We’re just sentencing the people you prosecute. But if you’re Black, every step through the criminal justice system increases your likelihood of going to prison.”
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who is also the city’s police commissioner, refused multiple requests to comment on the racial disparity in arrests at protests calling for an end to that very problem.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell have increasingly joined Trump in claiming the nightly protests are the work of a small group of white people bent on violence and destruction — and that they are no longer part of a movement against systemic racism.
“Enough is enough,” Lovell told reporters Aug. 5. “This is not forwarding the goals” of a movement against racism.
“If this isn’t about racial injustice issues, why are so many people being arrested who are Black?” Leymon asked.
Zeynep Tufekci: Do Protests Even Work? (The Atlantic)
It sometimes takes decades to find out.
In the short term, protests can work to the degree that they can scare authorities into changing their behavior. Protests are signals: “We are unhappy, and we won’t put up with things the way they are.” But for that to work, the “We won’t put up with it” part has to be credible. Nowadays, large protests sometimes lack such credibility, especially because digital technologies have made them so much easier to organize.
Indeed, the past few decades in the United States have featured many large and widespread protests without corresponding immediate change. Large numbers of people marched around the country in early 2003 to oppose the impending invasion of Iraq, but the war and the occupation proceeded anyway in March of that year. The Occupy movement in the United States saw marches in 600 communities and 70 major cities quickly, and then went global, but inequality has gotten worse since then. Neither numbers nor streets are by themselves magic wands for change.
The current Black Lives Matter protest wave is definitely high risk through the double whammy of the pandemic and the police response. The police, the entity being protested, have unleashed so much brutality that in just three weeks, at least eight people have already lost eyesight to rubber bullets. One Twitter thread dedicated to documenting violent police misconduct is at 600 entries and counting.
In the long term, protests work because they can undermine the most important pillar of power: legitimacy. Commentators often note that a state can be defined by its monopoly on violence, a concept going back to the philosopher Thomas Hobbes and codified by the sociologist Max Weber. But the full Weber quote is less well known. Weber defined the state by its “monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force.” The word legitimate is as important as the words physical force, if not more. Especially in the modern world, that monopoly on violence isn’t something that self-perpetuates. Violence doesn’t just happen; it has to be enacted and enabled by people. The Soviet Union did not fall because it ran out of tanks to send to Eastern Europe when the people there rebelled in the late 1980s. It fell, in large part, because it ran out of legitimacy, and because Soviet rulers had lost the will and the desire to live in their own system. Compared with Western democracies, their system wasn’t delivering freedom or wealth, even to the winners. If the loss of legitimacy is widespread and deep enough, the generals and police who are supposed to be enacting the violence can and do turn against the rulers (or, at least, they stop defending the unpopular ruler). Force and repression can keep things under control for a while, but it also makes such rule more brittle.
Legitimacy, not repression, is the bedrock of resilient power. A society without legitimate governance will not function well; people can be coerced to comply, but it’s harder to coerce enthusiasm, competence, and creativity out of a discouraged, beaten-down people. Losing legitimacy is the most important threat to authorities, especially in democracies, because authorities can do only so much for so long to hold on to power under such conditions. Maybe they can stay in power longer in part through obstacles such as voter repression, gerrymandering, and increasing the power of unelected institutions, but the society they oversee will inevitably decline, and so will their grasp on power.
In that light, focusing on legitimacy as the most robust source of power, it becomes clear that the Black Lives Matter movement has been quite successful in its short life. It should first be noted: This is a young movement, but it did not start this year. The current wave of high-risk protests is a crest in a movement that goes back to the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida, and that spread nationwide after the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, over the 2014 killing of Michael Brown. Understood in their proper historical context, Black Lives Matter protests are the second civil-rights movement in postwar America, and measured in that light, they are more and more successful in the most important metric: They are convincing people of the righteousness of their cause. In the long run, that’s of profound importance.
Protests also work because they change the protesters themselves, turning some from casual participants into lifelong activists, which in turn changes society. This is especially salient when a movement opposing police brutality and misconduct is met with more police brutality and misconduct. Peaceful protesters across the country have endured tear gas, rubber bullets, and batons, and this is no doubt part of the reason people are changing their minds. If the police will do this to protesters in broad daylight with cameras in so many hands, what else is happening to black or other vulnerable communities when nobody is around to film the interaction?
This gets to the final reason that protests work: Collective action is a life-changing experience. To be in a sea of people demanding positive social change is empowering and exhilarating. Protests work because they sustain movements over the long term as participants bond during collective action.
Do protests work? Yes, but not simply because some people march in the streets. Protests work because they direct attention toward an injustice and can change people’s minds, a slow but profoundly powerful process. Protests work because protesters can demonstrate the importance of a belief to society at large and let authorities understand that their actions will be opposed, especially if those protesters are willing to take serious risks for their cause. Protests work because they are often the gateway drug between casual participation and lifelong activism. And, sometimes, protests work because, for that moment, the question in the minds of the protesters is not whether they work short term or long term, but whether one can sit by idly for one more day while a grave injustice unfolds. And perhaps that’s the most powerful means by which protest works: when the cause is so powerful that the protesters don’t calculate whether it works or not, but feel morally compelled to show up and be counted.
Free PDFs of anti-racist posters, pamphlets, flyers, organizing material, and zines that provide information about the fight for racial equality and the movement to protect Black lives.
See the downloadable ones here: https://www.printedmatter.org/catalog/digital-downloads/free
Thread by @BretDevereaux about shield walls at protests (Twitter)
In that context, the fact that this shield wall, unlike historical shield walls, *cannot advance* makes its defensive nature instantly understandable to most observers. It reinforces the contrast between the aggressive, violence-initiating police and the defensive violence-receiving protesters, while at the same time allowing the protest to engage in what is essentially 'force protection' - keeping its people on the streets, out of jail, and out of a hospital, where they can continue to pursue the protest's agenda.
Alex Zielinski: Hall Monitor: Fair Weather Wheeler (Portland Mercury)
Now that the federal police have retreated from the front lines of Portland’s nightly demonstrations, Mayor Ted Wheeler has returned to demonizing those protesting police brutality.
"This is not advocacy to reform or transform any system," said Wheeler, speaking at a Thursday news conference, where he condemned the previous night’s protest outside the Portland Police Bureau's (PPB) East Precinct, claiming that the demonstrations are no longer about racial justice and police accountability.
“The conversation we are having right now is keeping us from the important work of racial justice, equity and comprehensive and thoughtful reform,” Wheeler said about the protests.
Yet it was just two weeks ago that Wheeler stood among the same group of protesters, inhaling plumes of tear gas and decrying the actions of federal police outside the city’s federal courthouse. It appears that defending his citizens from police brutality is only a priority when it’s not his own police force swinging batons at nonviolent protesters.
When camouflaged federal officers shot tear gas and impact munitions at Portlanders, Wheeler quickly severed PPB’s ties with federal law enforcement agencies and went on national TV shows to decry the feds’ “unconstitutional” tactics, and applaud his city’s uprising against police violence.
But now that the nation’s attention has shifted away from Portland, Wheeler’s back to trusting law enforcement’s incendiary narrative about these demonstrations without considering the experiences of protesters and observers on the ground.
Wheeler instead used his platform Thursday to elevate the voices of police officers, city staff who believe their exhaustion from working months of protests is a bigger concern than the public’s right to oppose their years of disproportionate abuse against people of color.
“We’re protesting to defund the police and invest in the community,” said Hester, whose voice is raspy from leading nightly protest chants. “And we haven’t seen that yet. It’s pretty simple, this isn’t over until we achieve that.”
Wheeler mentioned Trump’s campaign tactics Thursday, but he didn’t mention another re-election campaign headed to the November ballot: His own. Like Trump, Wheeler is using these protests as a way to gain political points, not an opportunity to question if the reforms he’s comfortable with are what
Portlanders are actually asking for.
Each morning, Wheeler receives a briefing from PPB leadership about the previous nights’ protests, which inform his understanding of a movement meant to dismantle the police force. He’d do well to start giving the same type of attention to the people calling for change.
Elliott Young: Trump just adding fuel to fire set by Portland’s Democratic leaders (Houston Chronicle)
It’s not just protesters who are getting abused by the Portland police. The Department of Justice entered into a settlement agreement with the city in 2014 because of its unconstitutional policing of people with mental illness, including the beating to death in custody of James Chasse. Last year, 60 percent of the people killed by the Portland police were suffering a mental health crisis. Half of arrests and half of use-of-force incidents in the past few years are of homeless people. And Black Portlanders continue to be subject to traffic stops and searches at wildly disproportionate rates.
So, when the mayor of Portland poses as the leader of the Resistance, it causes us to pause. While we do oppose federal agents in our streets, the real danger we have been facing in Portland since long before Trump’s election has been the local police.
Mike Baker: Federal Officers Hit Portland Mayor With Tear Gas (NYT)
The mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, was left coughing and wincing in the middle of his own city Wednesday night after federal officers deployed tear gas into a crowd of protesters that Mr. Wheeler had joined outside the federal courthouse.
Mr. Wheeler, who scrambled to put on goggles while denouncing what he called the “urban warfare” tactic of the federal agents, said he was outraged by the use of tear gas and that it was only making protesters more angry.
“I’m not going to lie — it stings; it’s hard to breathe,” Mr. Wheeler said. “And I can tell you with 100 percent honesty, I saw nothing which provoked this response.”
He called it an “egregious overreaction” on the part of the federal officers, and not a de-escalation strategy.
“It’s got to stop now,” he declared.
But the Democratic mayor, 57, has also long been the target of Portland protesters infuriated by the city police’s own use of tear gas, which was persistent until a federal judge ordered the city to use it only when there was a safety issue. As Mr. Wheeler went through the crowds on Wednesday, some threw objects in his direction, and others called for his resignation, chanting, “Tear Gas Teddy.”
Eder Campuzano: Feds, right-wing media paint Portland as ‘city under siege.’ A tour of town shows otherwise (The Oregonian)
Critics say the government’s slow response to requests for transparency and the national media’s focus on the most salacious moments of the city’s demonstrations prove both federal officials and national reporters care more about property damage than the physical injuries protesters sustain on the streets.
Portland officials’ claims that demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism cost downtown businesses upward of $23 million and video of protesters toppling a statue of Thomas Jefferson at a high school in North Portland drew headlines across the country.
But follow-up reporting of a faulty business association survey that mischaracterized sales losses due to coronavirus-related closures as protest-related or the school district’s push to rename many of its buildings in a nod to the movement that led to the statue’s toppling haven’t spread beyond local media.
Neither have stories about the protesters volunteering to feed houseless Portlanders in downtown parks, a group local police removed from the parks in front of the federal courthouse ahead of Wolf’s visit.
Piper McDaniel: Portland protests end Friday downtown in tandem force by federal, local police (The Oregonian)
Amid renewed calls Friday for federal law enforcement agencies to stop policing Portland protests, those officers once again closed in on demonstrators and used tear gas at least twice to break up crowds downtown.
The overnight force against protesters by federal police came soon after Oregon’s attorney general announced she was suing several federal agencies over the arrests of protesters. Several other state and local officials, including Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, also criticized the federal presence.
Yet after Portland police declared the downtown demonstration to be unlawful early Saturday morning, federal and local officers emerged at the same time to advance on protesters.
Many of those arrested were volunteers working with Riot Ribs, a barbecue tent that has been serving up free food to anyone who asks since the Fourth of July. From the sidewalk of SW Salmon, the volunteers who avoided arrest watched the blue awning of their stand collapsed by government contractors, still within the boundaries of Lownsdale Square Park. The volunteers hadn't been able to grab anything associated with the stand, including a large stainless steel grille they'd received the night before from Pok Pok, and thousands of dollars worth of food donations that they'd planned on feeding to hungry people.
Luke O'Brien: The Nazi-Puncher's Dilemma (Huffington Post)
Inside the antifa movement's struggle to continue its long, colorful legacy of cracking white supremacist heads without alienating, well, just about everyone.
A report from the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point found that from 1990 to 2012, far-right extremists were responsible for 670 fatalities, 3,053 injuries and 4,420 violent attacks in the United States. No such data exist for antifa, but in the three decades of antifa’s organized existence in America, only one known fatality caused by a member of an antifa group has been recorded, when in 1993 a multiracial skin shot a Nazi skin during a fight at a gas station in Portland and was convicted of manslaughter.
We know that the state will not protect you -- especially not when the head of state promises to target populations vulnerable to its violence, and sanctions citizens to do the same. For these reasons, we collect here resources for bystander intervention and deescalation for those who wish to protect one other.
Be aware that bystander intervention and deescalation strategies do not necessarily require physical force. Intervention and deescalation are first and foremost about securing a targeted person's safety as well as your own.
Jes Skolnik: A Practical Web Tutorial to Bystander Intervention and De-escalation Tactics
• Be alert.
• Be attuned to body language and how it changes.
• Trust your gut.
• Act confident, and try to react with your head, not your heart.
If you come up assertive (but not mutually aggressive), confident, and as calm as you can, that’s the first step toward defusing a situation. Practice saying “No,” calmly and firmly, alone, to a mirror in your house, or to a helpful friend (you can practice together). Staying centered and calm, focusing on your intake and exhalation of breath for five counts if you feel yourself getting too emotionally carried away, will help you act rather than react.
• Take a self-defense class.
• Don’t white-knight.
I cannot count the number of times I’ve walked up to someone who looked like they were in trouble in a club, or at a train station, and pretended cheerfully that I knew them. “Hey! It’s so good to see you! How are you doing?” If the person needed my help, they’d be able to respond in kind, and I could say “Excuse me, I haven’t seen my friend in a while here,” to the aggressor, and we could walk off together. That works far more often than you’d think it would. If the person didn’t need my help, they’d be able to stare at me blankly, and I could say, “Sorry, thought you were someone else. Excuse me for interrupting!” and walk off.
• There are all kinds of different situations, and all kinds of different situations call for all kinds of different solutions.
The basic four strategies come down to Direct (respond directly to the aggressor, as in the street harassment example in this paragraph; this works best when you’re working from a known and trusted position, and it does not generally work well when drugs or alcohol are involved), Distract (as in the stranger harassment club/train platform example above—distracting either person in the situation, really), Delegate (bringing in another person or people to help get a person in trouble to safety, pulling one party to one side and the other to another and thus defusing the situation), and Delay (use a distraction technique—whether it be in-person or via text/another messaging service—to pull a person who appears to be in trouble to the side to ask if they’re ok and they need any other assistance from you). You’ll mix and match and alter these strategies as necessary.
In a lot of situations, when you notice something is wrong, just sticking around and serving as a witness can keep something worse from happening.
Andrew Ross Sorkin: Occupy Wall Street: A Frenzy That Fizzled (NYTimes.com)
Has the debate over breaking up the banks that were too big to fail, save for a change of heart by the former chairman of Citigroup, Sanford I. Weill, really changed or picked up steam as a result of Occupy Wall Street? No. Have any new regulations for banks or businesses been enacted as a result of Occupy Wall Street? No. Has there been any new meaningful push to put Wall Street executives behind bars as a result of Occupy Wall Street? No.
And even on the issues of economic inequality and upward mobility — perhaps Occupy Wall Street’s strongest themes — has the movement changed the debate over executive compensation or education reform? It is not even a close call.
There are jailed dissenters around the world, with harsher sentences for lesser crimes, wasting in silence. We shouldn’t forget them and we shouldn’t forget the message Pussy Riot was trying to spread. However, we should let rebellion and reform grow organically from within a country and then foster and support it with an outsider’s perspective; we shouldn’t place ourselves and our lives and our Twitter feeds directly into someone else’s story and someone else’s struggle. If it’s not about you, don’t make it about you.
Amanda Marcotte: Pussy Riot: Found guilty in what looks like a 21st century witch hunt. (Slate)
This entire debacle should be a reminder to the world why a secular society isn't just a lark or some unbearable burden on religious people who want to nose around in their employees' sex lives. A subset of religious people will always claim that their faith requires them to silence dissent and impose their values on others through government force, but we cannot be afraid to stand up to them, no matter how loudly they squall about having their feelings hurt. The Pussy Riot travesty is the logical end result of giving special legal consideration and privileges to religion.
The Daily Beast: The Dish: Who Is Behind Occupy Wall Street?
‘Protests should do three things: they should express anger, through marches and targeted civil disobedience, at a particular political or social situation. They should give people the opportunity to see that other people, even people different from themselves, share that anger. And they should provide a vision of how life would be better if the world were different. Occupy Wall Street is doing all three of those things.’