The Portland Wall by Irene Hess

Editor : Joshua Zamudio / Written & Photographed by Irene Hess / Contributing Producer : Kemal Cilengir 
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The George Floyd protests in Portland, Oregon, have been going on for over 50 days. There are lots of moving parts - a variety of perspectives, approaches, and events. But the protests that get the most attention by police and media are those that happen each night outside the Justice Center and adjacent Federal Building. Glimpses of these protests have been used by the president and certain media to suggest Portland is on fire, hooligans are ransacking the city, and that federal militia needed to come here to restore "law and order". This is not true. I live blocks from the justice center with my family, we are fine. 
 
Last week the feds came, and things took a definitive turn. They shot a young man in the head with a rubber bullet, sending him to the hospital. This, and accounts of feds (without identification) taking pedestrians away in unmarked vehicles, galvanized even more Portlanders to come out and protest. On any given night you'll find teens, adults, medics, BBQ stands offering free food, and the newly minted "Wall of Moms" - a collective of mothers who set out to form a border between the feds and protestors. 

Last night, there was a jubilant vibe near the justice center - music playing, people singing and dancing. And then, around 11:30pm, for no apparent reason, the feds came charging out again. The crowd split into 2. One group took off as the feds charged them with munitions. The other group headed to the front of the justice center. Minutes later, a group of feds approached the justice center from a different street. The Wall of Moms moved to the front, and a group of black protestors stood before the moms - asking the feds why they had riot gear on and seemed ready to attack. 
 
In this photo, you can see the standoff. Protestors began chanting, “Don’t shoot your mother. Don't shoot your mother”. The smoke behind the crowd is tear gas. After about a half hour, the feds actually left. But a couple of hours later they returned, as they always do. At 3:00am, sitting in my living room, I could still hear flash bangs grenades. It should be noted that Portland police also did pretty much the same things as the feds, but they wore IDs and didn't snatch people off the streets. Whatever the case, last night sounded like most nights - like a war zone. 
To continue support of the photographer featured in this article, follow Irene Hess aka @Tejaroxy

2 comments

Millie

Thanks so much for this info.. So good to see it’s not as bad as it seemed.. 🤗 Irene, you are a Godsend..🥰

Leonora Rush

Thank you for being a truth teller and sharing it with others.

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