Rioters and anarchists in Portland, Oregon, once again formed an autonomous zone early Wednesday morning, modeling it after the CHAZ/CHOP zone in Seattle. Previous attempts to create an occupation that excludes police have failed. Will this one last?
Media reports indicate that dozens of protesters barricaded streets near the besieged Justice Center building downtown:
Protesters are attempting to form what they call the Chinook Land Autonomous Territory in downtown Portland parks.
Demonstrators began erecting tents in Lownsdale Square on Tuesday night. The park is just across the street from the Federal Courthouse and was home to the “Occupy Portland” encampment in 2011.
As of 5 a.m., about a dozen demonstrators remained in the zone.
At around 9:15 p.m., police said the group by the Justice Center began blocking traffic at Southwest 3rd Avenue and Southwest Main Street. They set up barricades on Southwest Main Street and Southwest Salmon Street at Southwest 3rd Avenue, police said. They also lit a fire where the elk statue once stood and at the intersection of Southwest Madison Street and Southwest 3rd Avenue.
Shortly after 1 a.m., the demonstrators began walking to Portland Police Bureau’s Central Precinct on Southwest 2nd Avenue.
Police said they removed some of the barricade at Southwest 3rd Avenue and Southwest Salmon Street, but demonstrators returned to the area and reportedly threw glass bottles at officers. The group rebuilt the barricade.
Andy Ngo reported some of the details of the barricaded area, which organizers named the Chinook Land Autonomous Territory or CLAT. Radical activists refer to Portland as land stolen from Native American tribes by white Americans. Graffiti all over downtown refers to Chinook land.
The name, while being about as inspiring as Seattle’s CHAZ, indicates that activists will continue to attempt to occupy the streets and parks around the Justice Center. The organizers appear to be the Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front, which is affiliated with something called CrimethInc:
Interestingly, on the CrimethInc. website, you’ll find a long, rambling manifesto that attempts to reconcile anarchy and anti-capitalism, referring to profit as the main problem blocking true liberation. It’s a fun read if you have an extra tab of acid laying around.
You’ll notice from the tweet thread that a semi-permanent kitchen has been set up in a pop-up tent in Lownsdale Park. The outfit, calling itself #RiotRibs, relies on donations. Apparently, the donations have rolled in:
They also indicate rioters will come back tonight for another run at setting up CLAT:
Portland Police provided real-time updates on social media as the rioters continued to attempt to set up CLAT:
Around 1:20 a.m., officers were able to remove some of the barricade at Southwest 3rd Avenue and Southwest Salmon Street. Demonstrators began returning to the area and officers disengaged. As the officers disengaged, the demonstrators threw glass bottles and pointed lasers at them. After officers left the area, the demonstrators lit a fire to what was left of the barricade. Several minutes later, a demonstrator extinguished the fire and several demonstrators began to rebuild the barricade.
The crowd dissipated over the next several hours.
If the posts on social media are accurate, the anarchists will be back tonight to try to set up a more permanent occupied / autonomous zone. Looks like they’ll try to make CLAT a real thing, while Portland Police continue to find themselves hamstrung by orders from Portland city leadership:
An exasperated Portland police union President Daryl Turner said in a news conference, “I have no confidence that city council will stand up for all of Portland. I have no confidence that the city will stop the rioting and the looting and protect the safety and livelihood of Portlanders.”
There’s been an uptick in the murder rate in Portland at the same time the mayor has begun to “defund the police.”
Of course, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has become an expert at deflecting blame.
Wheeler will no doubt continue to excuse the rioters while blaming everything on the federal government. Oregon Governor Kate Brown will excuse protesters from her new mandatory outdoor mask rule and ban on gatherings of more than ten people, which just went into effect today. This will undoubtedly give tacit approval for the anarchists to come back and set CLAT up again tonight. Meanwhile, civil society seems to be utterly slipping away in Portland.
Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available at www.WhoOwnsTheDems.com. Jeff hosts a podcast at anchor.fm/BehindTheCurtain. You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff, and on Parler at @RealJeffReynolds.