Portland’s “Day of Rage” protests, which rampaged through the city, targeting statues of “controversial” historical figures like Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, began with a group looking to “decolonize society” and “abolish colonial systems” that promote racism, according to Oregon Live.
But despite the group’s clear call to action on social media, law enforcement — and Portland mayor Ted Wheeler — say those who perpetrated Sunday night’s violence and destruction may be hard to identify and arrest, even those who broke into the Oregon Historical Museum and stole a priceless artifact (the artifact, at least, has since been recovered, though it sustained considerable damage).
Part of the problem is that more than 100 days on from the start of the Portland unrest, law enforcement, and city government still do not have a handle on who is organizing the demonstrations that often turn into violent and destructive riots.
“After months of demonstrations punctuated by violent clashes or vandalism, many of the city’s most militant protesters remain largely elusive or unknown,” Oregon Live notes. “Calls to action by often anonymous organizers spread rapidly among left-wing activists on social media and can come together in a matter of hours.”
“Protest organizers using the Twitter account Generational Resistance started promoting an ‘Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage’ only the day before,” the outlet notes, adding that Portland’s protest community is already primed and the only thing missing, typically, is direction. “The event generated an immediate interest in activist circles that have demanded an end to systemic racism and police brutality since the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.”
The group, which seems oddly similar to nearly every other “anarchist” or “anti-fascist” Portland organization, released a vague mission statement — “We stand to decolonize ourselves and decolonize society by working to abolish colonial systems rooted in racism and build a community rooted in liberation” — and called for the abolition of law enforcement, prisons, and capitalism.
A group of 200 people ultimately gathered to topple both Lincoln and Roosevelt, but they also tried to burn parts of the Oregon Historical Museum before stealing a quilt depicting landmarks in black and indigenous history. Police extinguished the small fires and eventually recovered the quilt several blocks away, largely intact but suffering from rips, tears, and bleeding.
Portland’s chief of police seemed helpless at a Monday press conference.
“Police Chief Chuck Lovell said during a morning press conference that the bureau would continue to investigate suspected crimes committed at the South Park Blocks demonstration,” Oregon Live noted. “However, when asked, Lovell couldn’t say who the organizers of the event were if or if they had ties to Portland’s Indigenous community. And while the chief said Portland police had known about the protest in advance, they had no idea where demonstrators intended to march or what they planned to do.”
President Donald Trump tweeted, on Monday, pointing out the Portland government’s lack of control over the situation and blaming Wheeler for refusing federal assistance in identifying and controlling agitators.
“The Radical Left fools in Portland don’t want any help from real Law Enforcement which we will provide instantaneously. Vote!,” Trump said, calling the rioters Biden supporters.