At Politico, here’s a profile on the ugly history of Portland, Oregon.
The fact that Portland erupted as the epicenter in Trump-era political violence in the U.S. is, in a certain sense, surprising. A liberal nirvana, a crunchy, weed-and-hops city where Republicans and plastic bags alike have been all but evicted, Portland has embodied and outpaced many of the urban trends of the early 21st century: gentrification and co-ops, food trucks and footbridges, transitions to a bike-and-pedestrian economy. It is, as a conspicuous show has encapsulated, a progressive paradise.
And yet, as many within and without the city have begun realizing, Portland is a town leavened with a history of rampant racial strife. As the whitest major American city, Portland blossomed in the lone state that constitutionally barred blacks from living there through the 19th century, that acted as one of the primary concentration centers for incarcerating American citizens of Japanese ancestry during World War II, that redlined as severely as any major metropolis elsewhere. That in 1922 saw its chief of police posing alongside hooded Ku Klux Klan members. That brought Jim Crow to the Pacific shoreline.
It’s the type of legal legacy, the type of nod-and-wink encouragement of white supremacy, that not only welcomed any number of Confederate families to relocate to the region in the aftermath of the Civil War, but that, toward the close of the 20th century, saw neo-Nazi and skinhead groups begin to extend their tendrils through the area. Before “Portlandia,” there was “Skinhead City.” In the mid-1980s, skinheads began marching through downtown, hauling bats, pipes and axes. Not long after, the city birthed Volksfront, a neo-Nazi contingent that eventually expanded internationally. In 1988, a trio of skinheads bashed Mulugeta Seraw, an Ethiopian student, to death; the three all received prison sentences, with one tabbed as a “prisoner of war” by other white supremacy groups.
There’s much, much more reportage of Antifa’s present-day violence and advocacy thereof. Personally, I had no idea how bad things are up there, but it’s obvious that Portland mayhem is nothing new.
It will get better; but worse will come first.
Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.
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