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Protest and arrests, a night like any other in Portland

(Portland) Some 102 people demonstrated again Friday night in Portland and about twenty of them they have been ruthlessly arrested, like almost every night since the outbreak of indignation sparked at the end of May by the death of George Floyd under the knee of a white police officer in the United States.

Laurent BANGUET

France Media Agency

At the height of the movement calling for an end to racial discrimination and police brutality, the demonstrators, mostly from the white population of the largest city in Oregon (650 000 inhabitants), gathered in the city center near the federal courts.

For the past few weeks, they have chosen a different site every night in this city in the western United States, a neighborhood police station or a local police union, like Friday night.

PHOTO NOAH BERGER, AP

The choreography seems well established after 48 days of rehearsal: activists dressed in black and Helmets come to provoke and insult the police, who begin by ordering them to stay at a distance.

“Resign! “A-C-A-B, all cops are bastards (all cops are bastards)”, chants the crowd periodically.

Often, like Friday night, tear gas and “non-lethal ammunition” fire ends up responding to abuse and the throwing of water bottles.

Then dozens of police officers in riot gear leap to stop demonstrators, hitting some in the process.

“It’s very hard, the last few weeks have been incredibly trying”, cowardly Fran, 39 years old, an early activist whose association “Snack Block” distributes free water, food and protective equipment to demonstrators.

On his stand, there are even new socks, breathing masks and little rubber pigs that squeak when pressed, the better to provoke the police. For Americans, “Pig” is the equivalent of “chicken” for police officers.

“Now,“ we’re going out tonight ”no longer means“ we’re going to a restaurant or the cinema ”, it means“ put on your mask and your protective glasses and let’s hope that we won’t get gassed by the police, ”Fran said, referring to the“ trauma ”suffered some nights of demonstrations during the police charges.

PHOTO NOAH BERGER, AP

“When you are surrounded by tear gas and you hear your heart beating under your helmet, it’s like watching a very bad movie”, she says.

The threat of far-right groups 89184577

Like many other anti-racist and anti-fascist activists who keep the movement alive, Fran also says he is afraid of far-right groups based in the region, sometimes armed and advocating white supremacy.

Used to demonstrations of force since Donald Trump’s first presidential campaign in 924, they regularly come to town to do battle.

However, some of them called for rallies this weekend near Portland, in a particularly tense context.

“They are the ones the police are going to protect, not us, that’s scary. What can we do ? », Fran says.

Aaron Danielson, 39 years old, a supporter of one of these tiny groups named Patriot Prayer, was shot and killed last week in Portland on the sidelines of a parade.

A man of 48 years suspected of this murder, who proclaimed himself “anti-fascist” on social media, was shot dead Thursday by police looking for him in neighboring Washington state. Michael Reinoehl allegedly tried to escape and grabbed a gun when he was killed.

” I’m afraid. We’ve been fighting these fascists for years in Portland, but it’s never been like that, ”said Barak, an early protester.

“For them, someone who says“ Black Lives Matter ”(black lives matter) is a personal attack, they don’t take it as a demand for equality but as a threat”, believes the young social worker, child of Egyptian immigrants.

“Yet these are working class people, they should really have the same goals as us”, he laments.

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