The black activist community in Portland is putting some distance between itself and the anarchists roaming the city, using the @safePDXprotest Twitter account to mobilize.
That's because the election of Joe Biden, seen as a victory by many protesters and by many in the Black Lives Matter movement, simply isn't enough for the anarchists in Portland. In fact, Biden's election actually "exposed their differences with the Black activists they claim to support," according to the LA Times.
The group of anarchists, very likely unsure of exactly what they are protesting for at this point, recently gathered after Joe Biden's "victory" in the most recent election. Spurred by a call to action by the Twitter account, about 50 people gathered around one "young man" to lambaste "liberals for celebrating the defeat of President Trump while capitalism and the political system remained entrenched."
"I’m tired of liberal complacency," one protester said, as the group started chanting "Fuck Joe Biden!" and marched toward the city's Democratic headquarters.
This has led black activists and community leaders to speak out, claiming the anarchists are "hijacking" their movement and are now "undermining the push for racial justice". Mingus Mapps, a Black resident who won a seat on the Portland City Council this month, said: “When people set fire to a building, it really does not liberate me one bit. It does the opposite. It fuels the political culture that makes racism possible.”
“We’re going to get out of the game of smoke bombs and rubber bullets and dressing cops up like they’re Marines as we stand outside public buildings and yell at each other,” he continued.
The anarchists are intent on tearing down the entire American system, including capitalism. Many of them told the LA Times that Biden is "no better than Trump". No one gave their real names for their respective interviews. The group was handing out pamphlets titled “Abolish All Mayors” and “Why We Break Windows”.
The latter pamphlet states: “Shop windows represent segregation. To smash a shop window is to contest all the boundaries that cut through this society: black and white, rich and poor, included and excluded.”
The violence has largely not served the BLM movement well. In June, black leaders were forced to denounce an arson attack on a building that houses a police station and black owned businesses - located on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Officer Derek Carmon, a Portland Police Bureau spokesman, said: “I don’t know what their goal is other than just destruction. My hope is that we’ll see less of this, but it’s difficult when you’re dealing with a group of people who don’t want to engage the police in a conversation about change.”
Shirley Jackson, a Portland State University professor of Black studies, said: “With the BLM protests there were clear demands, but it’s very difficult to see an end to something when it’s not clear what the demands are.”
Ron Herndon, a longtime Black activist concluded: “When I hear about somebody burning something down, I think about that as an act that’s always been used against Black people. You are not helping us.”