Tear Gas, Beatings, and Projectiles in Portland – my friend Mike Hastie, Viet Nam veteran and photo-journalist from Portland, OR, has been documenting first hand the ugly confrontations near the federal building for the past 50 nights.
“The last couple of nights I have been heavily involved in demonstrations in Portland, Oregon. (July 18-19, 2020.) As most of you probably know these demonstrations have been going on in front of the Federal Justice Center for over 50 straight nights. Since Trump called in the Feds, the turmoil and violence has escalated. We all know what Trump is doing, the Feds are baiting the demonstrators, and when they react to the police violence, Fox News is there to convince the American people that the demonstrators are the bad guys, and the police are the good guys. This is a political recipe that is as old as lying itself. The Feds and the News want to shape public opinion that these violent protests are being committed by mobs of anarchists and thugs. Now, if the American people really want to know about mobs and thugs, they can go back in history and examine the U.S. Empire, when their military is sent all over the world to steal and murder for corporate profits. But, I am getting ahead of myself, as the U.S. swarming locust have come to Portland to convince people all over the nation that the Federal Government is protecting us from violent descent. The murder of George Floyd, and so many other Black Americans has set off a powerful Rebellion. Black Lives Matter has awakened, and it has become the consciousness of a sleeping giant“.
“The last couple of nights have been very intense, as I have been tear gassed and shot at with a projectile round while carrying 2 Nikon Cameras shooting as fast as I can take pictures. I am 75, but when the adrenaline is pumping and you are running from the cops, my engine body is 35. It’s either that, or you fall flat on your face and inhale mass quantities of CS gas. If you are close to the cops, you never know what they will launch. In this article, I am including 2 photographs”.
The TOP PHOTO (below) was taken on July 18, 2020. I was very fortunate to get this image, because shortly after I took it, I got consumed by CS gas. That gas makes you very humble, as you just turn and get the hell out of that space. Shortly after that I got my eyes washed out by a medic. This picture, as you might recognize, is now a video that has gone viral with over nine million hits. The protester in the picture is a Navy vet, Christopher David, who is 53, and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. This was his first demonstration, and he made a huge introduction into the world of bearing witness. If you look at the picture closely, his right hand is trying to block the cop’s hand as the cop is hitting him with pepper spray, which you can
see. While this is going on, another cop his hitting Christopher David on the legs with a long baton. That cop also hit him in the hand and broke two bones. And, while this is all going on CS gas is everywhere. Seconds after I took this picture, this Navy vet turns the opposite direction and flips the cops off with both fingers. This is a remarkable story, as this protester stood his fucking ground.
The BOTTOM PICTURE is an image I took on July 19, 2020. On this particular night, the cops chased us a couple of blocks. They then started firing projectiles at us from a couple of different weapons, to include more tear gas. As you can see in this picture, the cop on the far right has just fired a munition round. One round set off a fire, which the protesters quickly put out. I took a few more pictures of the cops firing what they like to call less than lethal riot munitions. As the cops backed away from the intersection, one of them fired a round at me, as I saw it coming and hurriedly stepped out of the way, as it missed me by a few feet. I can’t imagine taking a direct hit from one of these rounds, because it can kill you if it hits you in the head. This is exactly what almost happened to a 26-year-old man last week who was hit in the head by a projectile across the street from the Federal Justice Center. His name is Donavan La Bella. He was knocked unconscious, and you can still see his blood on the sidewalk. He was sent to the hospital where emergency reconstructive surgery was performed. He will survive.
It is hard to tell where this stand-off with the police is going. The Feds don’t know this town, so they think they can control the tens of thousands of activists who live in Portland, Oregon, which George H.W. Bush labeled, ” Little Beirut.” The Feds are playing a chess game with Portland. If there is more overwhelming violence against protesters, and more people get injured, or possibly killed, the call from social media will bring out 50 THOUSAND people to the streets. I have been around these black belt protesters a lot, they are fearless, and I might say, they have become professional. As John Lewis once said: ” Find a way to get in the way.” His legacy is now in Portland, Oregon. I need to close, as John Lewis is calling me to prepare for another night.
Mike Hastie, Army Medic Viet Nam, July 20, 2020, Portland, Oregon
Mike Hastie served as an Army Medic in Vietnam.
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Mike Hastie Photography & Words
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