July 19, 2020


Feds, right-wing media paint Portland as 'city under siege.' A tour of town shows otherwise (Eder Campuzano, 7/18/20, The Oregonian/OregonLive)

The Oregonian/OregonLive spoke to nearly two dozen Portlanders and visitors downtown Friday as Wolf and other federal officials continued to characterize the city as lawless and under threat of constant riots.

Johnny Leyua, 18, was touring downtown and marveled at the mural in front of the Apple Store where Cory Alexander photographed her daughter.

"I would say that people here are doing it right," Johnny Leyua said. "I think Portland is straight for the movement."

He and his sister, Stephanie Leyua, 20, live in Salt Lake City. She's retrieving a car from her ex and said she's seen nothing but artwork filling the streets.

Stephanie Leyua caught sight of Wolf's tweets at the Justice Center, which showed him chatting with police against the backdrop of graffiti he estimates will cost $5,000 to remove.

"Why didn't he take any pictures of this?" Stephanie Leyua said, gesturing to the mural of Floyd, Washington and other Black people killed by police. [...]

The Trump Administration dispatched federal marshals and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents to protect the building from vandalism after Wheeler ordered city police to scale back their confrontations with demonstrators.

The move is largely seen as a campaign strategy on the president's part as his approval ratings plummet and polls show him far behind presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Earlier this month, a federal police officer shot a less-than-lethal munition at 26-year-old Donavan La Bella's face while he was holding a speaker across the street from the Justice Center, sending him to the hospital with a serious head wound.

Reports of federal agents apprehending Portlanders in unmarked vehicles began to circulate soon after.

The incidents galvanized demonstrators and prompted local and national officials to call for an investigation.

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.

Meanwhile, La Bella's dry blood still stains the sidewalk across the street from the Justice Center.

Posted by at July 19, 2020 12:00 AM