The Portland police were at fault

May 8, 2017

Three participants in the May Day demonstration in Portland, Oregon, that was attacked by police respond to the SW article by Wael Elasady about the police assault and the clashes with the Black Bloc.

The Black Bloc prevented mass arrests

I LARGELY agree with your assessment on what happened in regards to the May Day march. However, there was one point where we differed and I felt it important enough to respond.

I was at the back of the march on May Day in Portland. I was marching next to the Industrial Workers of the World. I was probably half a block up from the Black Bloc.

As I'm sure you're all aware, the bulk of what the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) is claiming is a fabrication. There were no Molotov cocktails being thrown. While a kid did throw a Pepsi can at a cop in full riot gear, that was the extent of the projectiles being thrown at the police.

It was then that the PPB decided to revoke the permit for the march. They told us that if we continued marching, we would all be arrested. I'm of the opinion that my right to assemble cannot be dictated by an arm of the government--and the back of the march definitely agreed with me. We kept marching.

Then the PPB started firing off their flash grenades and began arresting people while blocking off routes that would have allowed the few hundred protesters to vacate. It was then that Black Bloc became active.

Image from

The reason that the Black Bloc uses the tactics it does is to create massive diversions. The police were engaging in a huge breach of justice and power. They would have arrested a lot more if the Black Bloc had not started a fire on the intersection of Morrison Street and 4th Avenue. The fire focused the attention of the PPB onto them, and the rest of us escaped what would have been maybe a felony riot charge, despite none of us engaging in a riot.

To say that the Black Bloc does not care for most people is a huge disservice to the 25 people who were arrested that day so that the rest of us could go home. To say that we need to address the viability of Black Bloc tactics is allowing the police shrug off accountability yet again.

Without the Black Bloc, our options (at least here in Portland) are either to passively accept unjust arrests or simply don't assemble at all. What sort of options are those? Well, let me tell you, both of those options sound really good to the PPB.
K.A., Portland, Oregon

Readers’ Views welcomes our readers' contributions to discussion and debate about articles we've published and questions facing the left. Opinions expressed in these contributions don't necessarily reflect those of SW.

SW got the timeline right

I WAS at the May Day 2017 march. I don't identify as a socialist, but I'm glad this article found its way to me. This article is the most accurate description of what actually happened on the ground that day that I have seen.

Foolish acts of provocation by a few resulted in a serious and unnecessary escalation by police, which in turn created a dangerous situation for the majority of marchers and general public. Other news reports got the timeline wrong and clearly the mayor did, too. Thank you for a well-reported story.
Lauren, Portland, Oregon

Police provocations led to escalation

I WAS asked by the organizers to help with the trash containers and pull the trailer for use by those with disabilities at the Portland May Day event.

Just minutes after we loaded people into the trailer, we pulled them two blocks and the bike police surrounded us and forced us off the route. There was no place to park to let the people out of the trailer, so I drove slowly looking for a safe place. I was not worried because three motorcycle police were escorting me.

As soon as I pulled over at a safe place, they wrote me a $115 ticket for having people in the trailer. They told me they would write me more tickets for other things if I remained downtown.

This was the first low blow by police to begin the attack to escalate to a riot. Had they not done this action against the disabled, there may have not been counterattacks by the Black Bloc. I was present when two separate officers initially gave us permission to have the trailer on the march.
Doug Bennett, Portland, Oregon

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