Portland Holds Space

One thing that warms my heart are my friends and comrades who keep it up, who’ve been at it as long as I’ve known them. Marco holds it down as a community organizer and anarchist outside the radical niche, because that’s what he thinks is useful and that’s where he lives.

Here’s an article about the action from Portland Indymedia.

Today, fifty anarchists arrived at five p.m with the intention of taking and holding space at the intersection where the death of James Chasse occurred. At some point during the night, a creative and sneaky comrade had changed the street sign at the intersection to read “James Ave,” a tribute to the lost community member who was killed at the hands of the Portland Police in 2006.

Immediately, individuals began to break into affinity groups and carry out the tasks they had agreed to do together. While people began stringing caution tape across the intersection, others grabbed wooden pallets and began to stack them together to create a barricade. Banners were hung across these impromptu structures. Others grabbed trash cans, cardboard and other reinforcements. Soon, a dumpster was reclaimed from a near by business and rolled into the intersection and then overturned. Another dumpster soon followed. These dumpsters soon became drum sets, and voices rose to greet them with chants of “another man is deceased, who’s to blame, the police.”

Crowds begin to gather, curious to see why people are demonstrating here. Someone explains that this is the intersection where James Chasse was killed by the Portland Police Department, a man who was a singer and poet, beaten to death by our “boys in blue.” It took the Portland Police Department twenty five minutes to respond. The Portland Police Department deployed roughly fifty bicycle cops and fifteen motorcycle cops. It was also noted that many plain clothes police officers were seen casing the area. The police blocked off two streets and watched while anarchists chanted, spoke and danced inside their barricades. It looked as if the police were very unsure as to how to proceed, and understood that they were being watched by almost two hundred by-standers. The march was able to disperse safely at six p.m, as decided. The action happened on their terms, just like it was intended to. The downtown area was still swarming with police at 6:15 p.m. So far, there have been no reports of arrest.

The intention of the action was to hold the intersection for an hour in remembrance of the death of James Chasse. Four years have passed and we still have not forgotten the brutality inflicted upon him by the police, and the tragedy of his murder. The officers responsible for his death, Chris Humphrey and Kyle Nice, are still employed by the Portland Police Bureau and so far, no disciplinary action has been taken against them.

This wave of protests is in response to the killing of Jack Collins, a homeless man in crisis armed with only an artist exacto knife, which occurred only two months after the death of Aaron Campbell. Aaron Campbell was killed by Ronald Frashour, who says that he saw Campbell reach to his waistband for what he assumed to be a weapon, though witnesses attest that Campbell was walking backwards out of his house when the fatal shot was delivered.

Even in the midst of public scrutiny, Frashour still felt comfortable killing Jack Collins. Even with pressure put on the City of Portland and the Police Bureau, there have been no serious movements towards police accountability. In fact, the Police Bureau seems as complacent as ever, ignoring multiple complaints of excessive force lodged against Kyle Nice, who was recently involved in pulling his gun on an unarmed citizen in an act of road rage while off-duty.

These are the sort of police we have patrolling our streets, fully armed and, essentially, with permission to kill. Business as usual was disrupted by these brave anarchists, so soon after the anti-police brutality march that occurred on Monday, March 29th, to send a message to the Portland Police: we aren’t going to stop.

2 thoughts on “Portland Holds Space”

  1. wow. that (article, video, protest itself) was a very beautiful way to respond to such a horrible event. very moving.

  2. “Even in the midst of public scrutiny, Frashour still felt comfortable killing Jack Collins.”…??? It was not Frashour who shot Collins, it was Officer Jason Walters. It’s understandable how a typo (we assume it’s a typo as opposed to sloppy fact-gathering) like this could happen, but it hurts your credibility in an already hostile environment.

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