Portland continues as a riot hellhole, with protesters now targeting ICE facilities
Didn't Portland, Oregon used to be a nice city? Once upon a time it was, steeped in civic culture and citizen involvement. All you need to do is read Tom Wolfe's 1986 essay on the creation of "Portlandia," the copper goddess, the citizens' emblem of their fair city.
Today, it's some kind of dump, an ever-rioting hellhole, more than 80 days of it running, the latest instance of which has the anarchic leftist rioters targeting the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement building.
According to the Associated Press:
PORTLAND, OREGON - Protesters in Oregon's largest city have clashed again with federal agents outside a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement building that has become a new focus of the demonstrations that have gripped Portland for months, officials said Friday.
People in a group of about 100 late Thursday and before dawn Friday sprayed the building with graffiti, hurled rocks and bottles at agents and shined laser lights at them, Portland police said in a statement.
The agents set off smoke or tear gas and used crowd control munitions to try to disperse the crowd, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. Three people were arrested, police said in their statement.
The AP reports that they've been talking about car bombs and other hellish devices, this, besides the Molotov cocktails, graffiti, blinding lasers, and rocks and bricks they've thrown already.
More to the point, this represents a serial sort of escalation against the federal government — moving from one federal target to the next — starting with courthouses of different varieties, and now moving onto direct law enforcement. It's not about the city anymore — apparently, they've got it right where they want it, it's at federal installations now, where there is still resistance. They like to be fighting something.
And more specifically, it's at federal installations associated with the law, first, courts, now law enforcement. Their argument is against any rule of law.
Portland itself is so far gone that they don't even bother. That's a tragedy right there, given that Portland used to be a model of civic participation. In Wolfe's 1986 essay, opening with the arrival in Portland of a statue called Portlandia, he notes this:
The statue reached Fifth Avenue, where it would come to rest in front of a new building, designed by a famous American architect, Michael Graves. The goddess' huge outstretched copper right hand was now within reach! Parents rushed forward, holding their children aloft so they might touch the huge cuprous index finger before it was hoisted above forever. Two days later thousands gathered for the dedication ceremony, despite cold winds that swept in from the sea. The mayor, Bud Clark, cried "Whoop-whoop!" The statue's sculptor, Raymond Kaskey, was lifted up in a cherry picker to the brow of the goddess, whose name was Portlandia, for the christening. A roar of emotion went through the crowd.
I was part of that crowd nine months ago on Fifth Avenue in Portland, Ore. I was freezing in the wind. Nobody else was. The citizens of Portland were cooking with enthusiasm for their leviathan in copper, Portlandia.
That spectacle flashed back to me many times during Liberty Weekend. Both Portlandia and Liberty are gigantic classical figures placed prominently in great port cities. Both were dreamed up casually to honor the broadest sort of civic ideals. The Statue of Liberty wafted up out of cigar and brandy fumes after dinner one night in 1865 at the country estate of Edouard-Rene Lefebvre de Laboulaye, a French enthusiast of American democracy. The sculptor, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, was one of the dinner guests. Their blissfully boiled idea was to celebrate the common struggle of France and the United States to become free republics.
Portlandia popped up from the bewilderment over a piece of campy icing that Graves put on his model for Portland's new government office center. He had plastered some garlands and a whimsically molded female figure against the side of the building. The city fathers said, "What's that?" There had never existed a Portlandia, not in Greek and Roman mythology and not in Oregon mythology. Nevertheless, they liked the idea.
But they wanted a serious statue. So they did something quite odd by contemporary standards. They let the citizens choose, through an exercise in limited democracy. First the city arts commission held a competition that attracted 200 artists. Five were invited to submit models. The models were placed in the lobby of the building, the citizens invited to vote for their preference. Then a public meeting was held for the final selection by a panel made up of both citizens and art experts. Kaskey's Portlandia, the public favorite, won.
What did the goddess represent? Nothing but the broadest pursuits depicted on the city seal — commerce, agriculture and the sea. But that was enough to unite a large, modern city in a show of hometown enthusiasm.
Today, such a scenario is unthinkable in Portland, now queen of the riot-pocked leftist blue-city hellholes. Portland's a mess, and civic unity is a thing of the past. The only thing left worth fighting now for the miserable rioters is the federal government. The soul of the city that could have citizens coming together to raise a statue is gone; today, all they do is tear down statues. No wonder the city is dying.
Image credit: Screen shot from KOIN 6 via shareable YouTube.