Portland Protests

Nancy Rommelmann Reports From the Portland Protests

What's next for Portland?

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After the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May, demonstrators in Portland, Oregon, took to the streets for 108 days in a row, setting buildings on fire and scuffling with local and federal law enforcement as well as fellow Portlanders. As the summer wore on, protesters began entering residential neighborhoods in the early morning hours, shining lights into windows and telling people to literally and figuratively "wake up" to a world they say is made intolerable by racism, income inequality, the presidency of Donald Trump, and more.

Veteran journalist Nancy Rommelmann knows Rose City like the back of her hand, having lived there for 15 years. Nick Gillespie spoke with her in August about the roots of the unrest, what she learned while covering the demonstrations for Reason, and what might be coming next.

Q: Tell me about the protesters we see on the national news. 

A: For the most part, in my experience, they're kids.

Q: What do you mean by that?

A: I'm in my 50s. I'm a mother. They're in their early 20s and sort of ungainly, like kids in their early 20s can be. I've had them be, one-on-one, exceptionally polite to me: offering me a doughnut or a water, or "Can I wash out your eyes?" [after I've been hit with tear gas]. They will claim they are taking care of each other, and in a certain sense, they are.

I have had them be extremely obnoxious to me. They stole my phone. They come up and yell in my face. They want [you] to know that they're there with their baton.

I've also had a few—very few—actually talk to me.

Q: When you see somebody walking down the street carrying a bat, that's very provocative.

A: It is provocative. And usually you're not seeing one person. They move in groups, whether it's three people or six people or 600 people. And this is deliberate, to say, "We are here."

It's sort of the magic outfit. "I put this on, I am part of a group. And as part of this group, I will be intimidating. I don't need to talk to you about things. You will not film me. I'm not going to hit you with my baton—probably—but I'm going to let you know that I'm here with my baton."

Q: The protests started after the death of George Floyd, but they changed when Donald Trump signed an executive order to protect federal buildings using federal law enforcement. 

A: This was like sticking a neon sign on the [federal courthouse in Portland] saying, "Attack me." Now you have a locus, you have a place to express your rage. Peaceful protest had been sort of tamping down because, come on, six weeks? Eight weeks? Maybe I want to stay home and watch a miniseries.

But [the arrival of federal police] reignites it, and we see the grief and outrage over George Floyd taking on another dimension, which is, "We are against Trump and his goons."

Q: What happens after the feds arrive? 

The first night I was there, the feds are inside [the courthouse]. And occasionally, like once every half-hour, something is announced: "This is federal property, get away from the building." Which does nothing. The people outside are trying to provoke a reaction. After about two and a half, three hours, they finally got it, which was tear gas was thrown out [by the feds].

So everybody falls back, and then everybody starts screaming, "I can't believe they tear-gassed us!" And it's like, well, it's not a good thing. Nobody wants to be tear-gassed. But you've been pelting the building with flaming trash for three hours, provoking a reaction. So you got the reaction.

Q: You've talked to a bunch of protesters over several months. What do they want?

A: Some of these people are 20 years old, and I have said to them, "What is it that you want?" And it's like, "DEFUND THE POLICE." All right. So then where do we go from there? "Well, we could have nurses." I mean, these are the little answers you get.

There may well be a somewhat workable manifesto. But if antifa is decentralized, there's not going to be one policy paper of where we're going from here. I don't think the average protester is prepared to have that discussion with you beyond the six or seven slogan-encapsulated principles that they are working toward.

This interview has been condensed and edited for style and clarity. For a podcast version, subscribe to The Reason Interview With Nick Gillespie.

NEXT: Brickbat: No Good Deed

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  2. Would or wouldn’t, you all decide.

    1. Blue hair = hardcore Democrat, so no. Too much “feelings” and word policing. I lived in Portland when it was normal. It’s exciting to watch it fall apart and know that much can be blamed on the thousands of Californians who fled the very state they created with their Big Government ideas and then brought them to Portland and ruined the city. I do feel badly for the rest of the state, however. PS I like how she was able to blame Soros’s well-funded months of rioting and destruction on Trump. It was masterful. So THAT’S why they destroyed a one billion dollar public building and almost killed a dozen people inside? Trump saying they should not. Got it!!!!

      1. The thugs, vandals, rioters, looters, arsonists turn out to be polite kids who offer donuts to middle aged ladies. And the kids were driven to thuggery, vandalism, riots, looting and arson because Donald Trump tried to enforce laws against thuggery, vandalism, rioting, looting and arson.

        Thanks, Reason, for clarifying a complex situation.

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      2. She didn’t blame it on Trump. She explicitly said it was their reaction to Trump, and blamed it on the rioters.

        So everybody falls back, and then everybody starts screaming, “I can’t believe they tear-gassed us!” And it’s like, well, it’s not a good thing. Nobody wants to be tear-gassed. But you’ve been pelting the building with flaming trash for three hours, provoking a reaction. So you got the reaction.

        TDS takes many forms.

        1. Q: The protests started after the death of George Floyd, but they changed when Donald Trump signed an executive order to protect federal buildings using federal law enforcement.

          A: This was like sticking a neon sign on the [federal courthouse in Portland] saying, “Attack me.”

          Hellooooooooo. Did ya read it?

          1. Meh, that’s not really blaming it on Trump.

      3. It’s exciting to watch it fall apart and know that much can be blamed on the thousands of Californians who fled the very state they created with their Big Government ideas and then brought them to Portland and ruined the city.

        It’s not even just them. For a long time, Portland has been a magnet for white, homeless, drug-addicted twentysomethings. I think about ten years ago, I saw an article that reported Portland had the highest teenage runaway population in the US. That, plus that gawd-awful IFC show that made it a Mecca for the neoyuppies and crustpunks, and Portland is now the mentally ill behavioral sink we know it today.

        The only thing that would really fix the city at this point is a tactical nuke; the rest of the state would really be better off separating from Portland and letting it be its own city-state.

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        2. Portland’s motto for awhile. “Where poor people go to retire”.

      4. sorry, not just Californians. Portland has been attracting hipsters from all over for years.

    2. Would. I’m fine with a pretty older woman. There’s less bullshit.

      1. Moot point. She wouldn’t.

        1. Your name has never been more appropriate.

  3. Nick Gillespie spoke with her in August

    So this is a re-run of a months-old interview?

    1. Aye, and not a single bit of updating on the situation since the election.

      Talk about phoning it in.

      Turn out the lights Gillespie and move on. You can credibly argue that you were the last libertarian at Reason.

      1. Umm, it’s New Years Eve.

      2. “Aye, and not a single bit of updating on the situation since the election.”

        “Riot declared: Protesters break windows, set fires in downtown Portland”
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j67Dn0vVYlM

    2. Holiday recycling?

  4. Some of these people are 20 years old, and I have said to them, “What is it that you want?” And it’s like, “DEFUND THE POLICE.” All right. So then where do we go from there? “Well, we could have nurses.” I mean, these are the little answers you get.

    Sounds like an aspiring libertarian.

    1. The thing is, this is exactly how Millennials and early-stage Zoomers think. They literally have no concept on how a complex society is run or sustained, because they’ve been sheltered by the authorities their whole lives.

      1. Ok Boomer. (is that still a thing ?)

      2. “They literally have no concept on how a complex society is run or sustained…”

        Nobody who is calling for electoral college votes to be tossed on January 6th is in a position to criticize others on this front.

        1. ?legitimate? electoral college votes…. The narcissistic surety in the face of so many already found violations is the roots of “no concept” on this comment.

      3. They literally have no concept — CHAZ, “Defund the Police — But here’s a whole list of more Gov-Gods we DEMAND to police the world with.”

        Of course they are angry… Blunt contradictions like these would make anyone mad. Too bad they’re too stupid to address their own conflict of theories. There’s no logic in emotional spat reactions.

    2. So if someone is murdered, they can be nursed back to life?

      1. It sounds like half-formed thoughts about how to deal with homeless people, mentally-ill people, etc.

        To be fair, my nephew is a cop and he says dealing with homeless, mentally-ill people is how he spends most of his work day.

  5. So move along now, nothing to see here.

  6. https://twitter.com/Rothbard1776/status/1344360623182901249?s=19

    MASSIVE PROBLEM in GA [and around the country?] w/ regard to every single adjudicated ballot that would effect any potential recounts, per witness “There was a point in that video where we showed that, Richard Barron, who had said that 113k ballots had been cast and 105k were
    2/ adjudicated. Now, that’s not physical possible, which we can prove mathematically, but at the same time, if you adjudicate 105k votes, you have to understand from a technological perspective, as we’ve delved into all the different aspects of how the vote moves along, when you
    3/ adjudicate a ballot, that old reference [THE ORIGINAL BALLOT IMAGE] that you saw, or anything like that, is COMPLETELY DESTROYED. It’s gone. You can no longer reference [it]. And when you go run a hand recount, like you did in GA, then you’re looking at the print-out of those
    4/ ballots scans. So at no point did the original voter intent enter into that process once it’s destroyed. That’s the one thing I don’t hear people talking about that’s very, very important. The original ballot that you cast, especially from an absentee point is destroyed
    5/ and replaced with a new image. With no meta-data. No trail. And even from an audit perspective, you know, it would fail, because they’re all using the same account to audit. So you don’t know who made that change. You don’t know how many times that change was made in the past
    6/ and if I had a group of two-people, the Republican and Democrat [which used to be 3 people], that were auditing something … the only thing you would see from the end perspective, data-wise, is that final audit. You would not see any intermediate audit, or any intermediate
    7/ ballot image or the original ballot image, so keep that in mind when we’re talking about adjudicated ballots.”

    Can this possibly be true? If so, how on earth did we ever let it happen? This is a major problem with regard to ensuring the integrity of our elections

    1. Culturally, I find it grotesque, that Der TrumpfenFuher acts vulturally, lusting after eating the dead corpse of democracy, turning it into a dictatorshit! Under Der TrumpfenFuher, the “R” party will NOT rest until it is the ONLY party! And sensible Americans (unlike the “R” party lately) have learned some history about how terribly poorly 1-party states work! HEY IDIOTS! “R” PARTY NEEDS “D” PARTY, AND WE NEED TO ACCEPT THE WILL OF THE VOTERS, EVEN “D” VOTERS, TO HAVE A 2 PARTY STATE NOT A 1-PARTY DICTATORSHIT! If you want to do some GOOD for the “R” Party, PLEASE explain this to Der TrumpfenFuher!

      I say again, “Under Der TrumpfenFuher, the “R” party will NOT rest until it is the ONLY party!”

      Why is it?

      If you need proof of what I say, read https://reason.com/2020/12/20/desperate-to-stop-biden-from-taking-office-trump-suggests-military-intervention-voting-machine-seizures-and-appointing-sidney-powell-to-investigate-her-own-fraud-claims/ Desperate To Stop Biden From Taking Office, Trump Suggests Military Intervention, Voting Machine Seizures, and Appointing Sidney Powell To Investigate Her Own Fraud Claims

      Trump flunkies want to use martial law to hold new elections in swing states that didn’t vote Trump. Use the military to force a do-over where the people didn’t vote for Trump like they were supposed to. Give them a second bite at the apple.

      And there will be endless do-overs till these wayward slobs do things the RIGHT way, and vote for Der TrumpfenFuhrer!

      Those states who voted for Der TrumpfenFuhrer? Texas, for instance? And now that time has gone by, and millions of Texans have seen yet MORE of the “true stripes” of the Trumptatorshit… And they voted for Trump, but are SOOOO disgusted by now, they want to vote differently by now… Do THEY get a do-over?

      Let’s selectively re-play this game till the Trumptatorshit lasts forever!

      The ONLY way that states that DID vote for the continuation of the Trumptatorshit, will get a re-vote, to make it all “fair” to people who’ve changed their minds, by now, or who were excluded from voting by “R” machinations or being too busy or sick that day, to vote… The ONLY way that voters in THESE states will get a “second bite at the apple”, is to make up utterly fantastical LIES about the “R” party’s cheating, collusion with Lizard Men, etc.!

      If the Lizard Men stole it last time, what will keep them from stealing it the next time around?

      What we are CLEARLY evolving to here, is NOT election wins by the most votes or even electoral college votes, it is “WINNING” by “He who whines and cries and makes up lies, the most”!

      WHY, oh WHY might it be, that people who don’t like the history of 1-party states, are afraid to vote “R” any more?

      1. Hey Sqrlsy, orangemanbad.

        1. Ask, and ye shall receive wisdom! Knock, and the doors will be opened wide for ye! The pearls will yea verily be cast even unto the swine! Now it is up to YE, having been led to the water, whether ye will DRINK deeply, or if ye will just horse around!

          Orange Man bad?!? He BAD, all right! He SOOO BAD, He be GOOD! He be GREAT! He Make America Great Again!

          We KNOW He can Make America Great Again, because, as a bad-ass businessman, He Made Himself and His Family Great Again! He Pussy Grabber in Chief!

          See The Atlantic article by using the below search-string in quotes:
          “The Many Scandals of Donald Trump: A Cheat Sheet” or this one…

          https://reason.com/2019/09/02/republicans-choose-trumpism-over-property-rights-and-the-rule-of-law/

          He pussy-grab His creditors in 7 bankruptcies, His illegal sub-human workers ripped off of pay on His building projects, and His “students” in His fake Get-Rich-like-Me realty schools, and so on. So, He has a GREAT record of ripping others off! So SURELY He can rip off other nations, other ethnic groups, etc., in trade wars and border wars, for the benefit of ALL of us!!!

          All Hail to THE Pussy Grabber in Chief!!!

          Most of all, HAIL the Chief, for having revoked karma! What comes around, will no longer go around!!! The Donald has figured out that all of the un-Americans are SOOO stupid, that we can pussy-grab them all day, every day, and they will NEVER think of pussy-grabbing us right back!

          Orange Man Bad-Ass Pussy-Grabber all right!

          We CAN grab all the pussy, all the time, and NONE will be smart enough to EVER grab our pussies right back!

          These voters simply cannot or will not recognize the central illusion of politics… You can pussy-grab all of the people some of the time, and you can pussy-grab some of the people all of the time, but you cannot pussy-grab all of the people all of the time! Sooner or later, karma catches up, and the others will pussy-grab you right back!

          1. For New Years Eve, will you be drinking champagne with frozen poop cubes in it? Or will you just eat it straight as an appetizer?

    2. You already posted this one on the morning Roundup. Let’s avoid repeating every bit of debate there:

      https://reason.com/2020/12/31/new-covid-19-strain-bungled-vaccine-rollout-threaten-the-return-to-normal-in-2021/#comment-8665971

  7. Hey Nancy why do you keep coming back to Portland if you hate the people? Maybe if you weren’t such a stupid lying cunt your husband’s business wouldn’t of failed? To be fair it would of failed anyway because the coffee sucked.

    Aren’t you worried BLM or Antifa are going to attack you? Are you sure you’re safe? After all don’t you despise most Portlanders?

    Please leave and stay gone you goddamn lying cunt!

    1. flagged

      1. For what?

        1. Spam. Your schtick is no different than Sqrlsy’s space wasters.

        2. Jesus kid. Also flagged.

          We need to bring back sanitariums for people like you who can’t be in society.

      2. Nobody at Reason follows up on flags. There is no moderation here. The only effect it has is to hide their comment on your browser.

    2. She is right that Trump’s DHS goons just escalated it and made it worse. Anyone could of predicted that.

      So the Antifa thugs walking down the street in their city with bats or batons are intimidating? However the cousin fucking hillbillies coming down from shithole rural SW Washington with guns, shooting paintballs, and starting fights are just law and order conservatives?

      Some of the hillbillies broke the door of the capitol building in Salem a few weeks ago. Real law and order types.

      Fuck you Nancy you lying Cunt and fuck the inbred patriot prayer assholes.

      1. The only good Antifa is a dead one.

        1. Is that supposed to be some kind of insult?

          1. He’s stating a fact.

            1. Cram it you un-american traitor!

          2. It’s some kind of warning.

      2. flagged, be being a troll and an all out asshole

        1. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t make them a troll.

          You must really embrace cancel culture…

          1. Fuck off and die, you pathetic piece of shit; your family will celebrate.

          2. Yes it does. Someone that disagrees with replies to your comment and states the case for their position. A troll is “fearful fowl droppings” that cannot refute what you commented so hides behind the flag.

      3. “could of”

        1. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t make them a troll.

          You must really embrace cancel culture…

          1. Goddamn it. For some reason the comments on Reason are screwy on my shitty phone so I have to cut and paste.

        2. Excuse me grammar Nazi, “could have.”

          Is that acceptable?

      4. Maybe if you weren’t such a stupid lying cunt your husband’s business wouldn’t of failed? To be fair it would of failed anyway because the coffee sucked.

        Maybe if you weren’t an illiterate dipshit you’d have learned the difference between “of” and “have” by now.

    3. She lives there, for one thing.

      1. No she moved a year ago after her husband’s business got boycotted. She wrote a column about how much she hated the people there.

        She is a lying cunt.

        1. Haha. Wow, you’re easily triggered.

          What a doosh.

  8. 2020 is a phase shift in our governance.
    This is typical partisan apocalyptism, just look at it for yourselves.
    A trio of totalitarian hallmarks: 1) lockdowns, aka mass house arrest and small business closure, forced speech via mandatory mask policies, contact tracing, 2) organized political mobs, financially supported by Party operatives, and protected via selective prosecution of anyone that defends themselves against the thugs, 3) illegitimate election, with statistically/logically inconsistent results and refusal to investigate, in which blatant fraud isn’t the only factors – rules/procedures changed unconstitutionally at the last minute, insecure vote casting, polling place violations, and unaccountable vote tallying.
    And that’s not even mentioning the overarching instititional factors in place that abetted this transition into totalitarianism: de facto monopoly control of mass media, education, tech, and Corporate America.
    A dark winter indeed.

    1. Did the Soviets, Nazis, and Maoists start with concentration camps, gulags, and cultural revolution?
      No, they began with 5 year plans and emergency powers…

      1. We didn’t even get an enabling act.

        1. It’s the Venezuela model: Start off the richest country in South America.
          1. Elect someone who demonizes the rich: Hugo Chavez
          2. Raise the minimum wage and crush small businesses
          3. Seize control of the energy industry for made up reasons (GND)
          4. Let all the politicians pocket the money until there is none.
          5. Use Smartmatic and Dominion to make sure same fools always win.
          5. Chavez dies with $4 billion in the bank and no one votes in poverty stricken Venezuela anymore.

          THANKS TO ALL THE DEMOCRATS WHO MADE THIS POSSIBLE, and to China for sending us the COVID virus as an extra measure of control.

  9. Maybe the question to be asking is: Why are these young people doing this night after night?

    My answer: This is an indirect effect of the decline of the nuclear family in America for the last 50 years.

    The common theme I am reading in Rommelmann’s comments is these are generally young men in their 20’s who do not feel a sense of belonging (to anything); so they join in packs/gangs and commit all sorts of violence and mayhem. I’d wager a majority of these young men are from single parent homes.

    Perhaps the answer here is not another government program. Government programs will not fix social decay.

    1. Government programs will not fix social decay.

      It could stop enabling it. That wouldn’t do any harm.

      1. This.

        Welfare programs in particular have decimated the nuclear family in low income brackets by specifically incentivizing single motherhood. This leaves generations of children without fathers, and fathers with no sense of belonging to any part of the community. And it’s a cycle that perpetuates itself.

    2. A simpler answer is the lack of anything else to do because all the lockdowns threw them out of classes. Idle bored teenagers, no school, no job, what else do you expect them to do?

      If it was your 50 year collapse of the nuclear family, why didn’t it happen last year, or the year before? What was different about this year?

      Oh right, lockdowns, schools closed, jobs gone.

      1. Also all the evidence of gangs of young men prior to the 1960s – good example being the KKK.

        But agree w/ C XY that government programs will not help and more then likely cause more problems then they even attempt to solve, which they won’t actually solve.

      2. “What else do you expect them to do?”

        Really?

    3. Perhaps the great experiment of not disciplining children has been a dismal failure and needs to be acknowledged.

      1. Benjamin Spock was wrong.

  10. *This is NOT typical partisan apocalyptism

  11. Reason koch suckers still believe that was about Floyd. There’s a charming innocence about you drowning in a sea of left wing shit that you pretend is cotton candy.

    1. I usually try to avoid insults or foul language in my postings, but i dont think this statement could actually be improved in any way.

    2. At this point BLM and antifa are all about the hustle and anyone who claims not to see this is just being intentionally obtuse.

  12. Protesters are a bunch of clueless, disorganized kids?

    So much for the conservative narrative that they’re highly organized political operatives.

    1. Many of them are. They were certain,y organized when they bussed in to my city and surrounding communities last summer starting riots, or attempting to. Portland is different as Antifa has been a thuggish occupying group there for two years before the Floyd insurrection.

      1. Even being bussed in doesn’t mean they’re organized. Just means they’re passionate.

        1. Otherwise the Grateful Dead and deadheads would need to be proclaimed the most organized group on the planet (which they most assuredly are not).

    2. So is the lack of prosecution in certain jurisdictions, many with Soros backed prosecutors, a coincidence? Or do you acknowledge that’s part of this situation?

  13. “When you see somebody walking down the street carrying a bat, that’s very provocative.”

    Uh, don’t we have the right to, you know, BEAR ARMS? Lay off the kids. Just because you can’t afford an AR 15 or a Glock doesn’t mean that you don’t have the right to defend yourself.

    1. Yeah……. they’re defending themselves. Why don’t you go talk to these young folks and make a point of disagreeing with them. See how well they ‘defend themselves’ from your dissent.

      I’m sure they will claim you ‘triggered them’.

      1. When they broke Andy Ngo’s face, it was self defense from all those mean things he writes about them. Even though there is no them, this is all just an idea. An idea that seeks out journalists that aren’t sympathetic to them and breaks their face.

  14. Just because you can’t afford an AR 15 or a Glock doesn’t mean that you don’t have the right to defend yourself.

    No, it’s because most of them have never handled a gun in their life, and are just as likely to end up shooting their own dick off.

    At one of the Aurora, Colorado riots this summer, an Antifa pulled a gun on a guy trying to get through the crowd blocking the highway, and ended up shooting two of his fellow protestors instead. Fortunately, his aim was so off that he just winged them instead of killing them.

  15. If ENB ever gets hired full time with Huffpo, can Reason hire Rommelman to replace her?
    Reason would be interesting with an actual libertarian on staff.

    1. Why would they pay her when they are already everything they want from her for free?

  16. Yeah, no one attacked the federal courthouse until after Trump sent agents to protect it.

  17. No libertarian would give sympathetic coverage to Antifa.

    They are not protesters!!! They’re TERRORISTS!!!

    I want to see them, and their organizers and financiers (Soros), be the target of investigation and pursuit until they’re all in prison or dead.

  18. People with nothing to do finally had something to do.

    What’s next, duh, nothing to do again.

    1. ^THIS; I have a whole list of things for them to do – but it all got washed away by their own demands for minimum wage *entitlements*, skin color *entitlements*, retirement *entitlements*, healthcare *entitlements*, liability *entitlements*, unemployment *entitlements*, UBI? *entitlements*, age-limit *entitlements*………

      Seems very few American’s wants to *EARN* anything in a Gov-God granted world of *entitlement* produced by Gov-Guns that threaten other fellow men of their labors. THUS; the very obvious fault of socialism and communist as well demonstrated time and time again through history.

      It all falls apart when The POWER to STEAL = WEALTH get embedded by indoctrination into fragile snowflake minds.

  19. So a bunch of spoiled little suburban kids who never had to work a day in their lives…with “woke” useless degrees and “rage” that a “gender studies” BA qualifies them for nothing…not even a retail job which they most likely couldn’t handle the stress of actually doing basic work, stocking shelves, checking someone out, calculating correct change in their head (“math isn’t my thing”) and showing up on time. And anyone in their fifties with blue hair…its not 1983 and you are not clubbing to see the Violent Femmes perform at some shit hole bar.

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