by Thomas Hochman
On Friday, January 20, thousands gathered near Pioneer Courthouse Square to protest the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
Accompanied by older brother and professional shit-stirrer Nate Hochman, I went down around seven o’clock to see what it was all about.
As we followed the scattered crowds towards the center of the demonstration, we were told that the police had announced that the protest was unlawful, and were ordering that the gathering scatter.
Unsurprisingly, no one was listening, so we made our way towards the front of the pack and watched the dynamic unfold.
What I had expected to see there was aimless animosity — everyone on the left hates Trump for a different reason, and I anticipated that there would be a general lack of cohesiveness to the protesting.
What I saw instead, however, was something far more disheartening.
Although the occasional anti-Trump cheer would rumble through the crowd every few minutes or so, all the focus — from the babyfaced anarchist to the elderly woman — was on the police.
Now, it’s important for me to point out that I’m well aware of the Portland Police’s imperfect record — and I think that racist or illegal activity perpetrated by those wearing a badge is deplorable.
But it’s a disservice to anyone truly hurt by the election for thousands of privileged Portlanders to abandon the rationality behind their protests and scream “Fuck the police” for five hours straight. Demonstrations as large as the ones in Portland garner nationwide media coverage, and it’s a shame that the narrative was so singular, and, in the case of the middle-class white folk who made up most of the protest, misguided.
The police — who had undergone weeks of riot training in preparation for the inauguration protests — were calm and collected as protesters left Pioneer Square (the arranged setting for the demonstration), marched down the street, and started throwing projectiles at officers.
Protesters were blocking downtown traffic, so the police announced (on multiple occasions) that the protest would have to move back to Pioneer Square — it was illegal in its current incarnation.
Instead, people shrieked “police brutality.” Instead, a white woman in a Patagonia jacket spat at an officer, shouting that it was obvious that he was a virgin. Instead, the black policeman was jeered at and called a fool.
Nate and I watched as a Jewish man walked to the front lines and shouted “Nazis” at the policemen amidst uproarious cheers from the protesters.
Now, I’ve been to Auschwitz. I’ve seen the rooms full of shaved hair and children’s shoes left behind by the innocents murdered in the Holocaust. To see a guy who shared our ancestry accuse the worn-out Portland police of such putrid evils — and gain so much support for it — made me livid.
Where were the people protesting Trump’s stance on global warming? On nukes? Why was it that everyone only saw red when the police — many of whom probably shared their political views — tried to keep the protest peaceful?
My answer is that in the fallout from the election — and likely some time beforehand — people abandoned what was true and looked instead to what felt the best. I bet it felt pretty therapeutic for the protestors to pin the police as the physical embodiment of the things Trump stood for. I bet it felt pretty good when that guy got to scream “Nazis,” and everyone applauded him for it.
But it’s dishonest. And I can’t understand why no one held their feet to the fire.
I talked to an OES student the other day who said that she didn’t mind if what was used to fight Trump was factual or not. And I imagine quite a few people would agree with her.
So why is it considered okay to make things up or go after the wrong people for the sake of leftist virtue signaling? If Trump is to be called out for his wrongdoings — and he should be — then it’s going to have to be with facts.
He’s our president. He has been for ten days now. When you say he’s homophobic, you’re going to have to provide evidence. When you say he’s the worst president ever, you’re going to have to point to his record.
Rip off the Guy Fawkes mask. Don’t forget what you’re fighting for — speak the language of morality instead of shouting aimlessly. Stand for what is true, because it’s not enough to just be upset anymore.