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OPINION | Mayhem continues, narrative crumbles

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THE press has been playing defense for Portland anarchists for weeks, suggesting riots and arson against a federal courthouse were provoked by federal agents protecting it.

When the Trump Administration lowered the profile of its agents in an agreement with the state government, the media’s protest cheerleaders were eager to report that the real cause of the violence had gone away. “Trump ordered federal forces to quell Portland protests. But the chaos ended as soon as they left,” said a July 31 Washington Post headline.

 

So much for that. Over the weekend Portland police were forced to declare two riots. On Friday police said “people defied orders to disperse and threw rocks, frozen or hard-boiled eggs and commercial- grade fireworks at officers,” the Associated Press reports. Rioters also “filled pool noodles with nails and placed them in the road, causing extensive damage to a patrol vehicle.” On Saturday night, arsonists set a fire inside the Portland police union building and rioters outside landed two officers in the hospital. Rioting continued late Sunday, injuring more police.

 

The narrative of peaceful protesters set upon by bloodthirsty law enforcement officers in Portland is becoming unsustainable even for progressives. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who ostentatiously denounced the Trump Administration’s efforts to protect the federal courthouse, had a rendezvous with reality after people tried to set ablaze a police precinct on Wednesday night. “When you commit arson with an accelerant in an attempt to burn down a building that is occupied by people that you have intentionally trapped inside,” he said, “you are not demonstrating. You are attempting to commit murder.” Meanwhile in Chicago on Sunday night, hundreds of looters ransacked stores along the Magnificent Mile, one of America’s premier commercial streets. The Chicago Tribune reports that some looters “could be seen throwing merchandise into rental trucks and other large vehicles before driving away.” The city pulled up drawbridges to control entrance to the downtown, and 13 cops were injured.

 

Homicides in the city are up 52% compared to last year, and Alderman Brian Hopkins told CBS local news on Friday that “If people are afraid to come downtown, they fear for their life, they’re not going to want to shop here.” He said a greater police presence is needed to protect Chicago’s downtown and that he “tried to impress” the gravity of the situation to the mayor and police superintendent. “We’ll see if they respond,” he added. Judging by the mayhem of Sunday night, they did not.

 

All of this raises the question of how long the mainstream press and Democratic politicians can publicly maintain the fiction that violence surrounding “mostly peaceful” protests is a nuisance of little consequence and that the real villains are the police. The longer this willful distortion continues, the longer the economic immiseration of places like Chicago will persist even after the pandemic ends.

 

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