by Augusto Carneiro, Founder & Chief Friendship Officer of Nossa Familia Coffee
Originally posted on @nossafamiliacoffee on Instagram >> see post here
What’s happening in Portland, Oregon?! We told ourselves we were going to keep this post short...but that turned out to be difficult. This is a complicated situation that is changing daily, even hourly. So we’re going to try to use our platform to give some perspective here, from our company’s Founder, Augusto. You have likely seen depictions of a ‘city under siege’ in the news, and we have been hearing from friends and family alike, concerned for us. Thank you for the concern. We’re all safe, mostly! What we are worried about is the state of our democracy, so we thought we should share our first hand account of what is going on in the city right now.
Despite what is being portrayed in the national media, Portland is not a war zone. The protests are concentrated in a two-block radius downtown, by the Mark O. Hatfield federal building. This is where protestors have shown up for the past 60 days to participate in largely peaceful protests to call attention to Black Lives Matter and demand for the city to create meaningful change in our community. Yes, there has been lots of graffiti and there was some vandalism and looting in the early days of the protest. But the majority of protestors are not vandals… They are our friends, colleagues and employees, me and my wife (and even my teenage kids who felt so passionate that they snuck out at night to show support for the movement). Our community leaders are also showing up joining regular people standing up for what’s right, to say Black Lives Matter and that we need to do something about systemic racism and the violence it creates.
Some change was achieved in local government, but not enough, and so the protests endured, though much smaller as time went on. This was until the Feds showed up. Since then, the situation has gotten much worse, and it now does feel like Portland is under siege… but not from our own citizens…. It now feels like our democracy is at risk because our friends are not allowed to protest in peace. The agents were sent here not by request of the governor, not by request of the mayor or local leaders. In fact, the local government is seeing the rise in damage and tensions and have asked (and sued) for the feds to leave. We, the local residents, also want them gone, because we know all they’re doing is causing more harm and violence.
Peaceful protestors are getting shot at and tear gassed every night. Even the mayor of Portland was tear gassed when he went out to speak with organizers. We are NOW under siege, by the federal government, who refuses to work with local government (or works too closely with Portland Police against protestors). They’ve sent war-ready, unnamed federal agents to shoot flash-bangs, rubber bullets, pepper balls and tear gas at citizens exercising their right to free speech. The New York Times has reported that the federal agents deployed did not have specific training in riot control or mass demonstrations, and has released video footage showing how their actions “ignited chaos” and “escalated violence” in the city.
We want to share this perspective, and also share some photos of our city the way we see it, and the beauty and art that have been created from recent civil unrest. This is not to downplay or distract from the fact that there is violence and injustice happening on our doorsteps, which is being escalated by the authorities. But we want to share these images of hope, of our city’s residents showing up to make this community better in these uncertain and trying times. These are photos of the murals that have been created with Black Lives Matter messages. The outpost “Riot Ribs” where community members show up daily to share free food and drinks with protestors. The Wall of Moms, Wall of Dads, Wall of Vets and Wall of Grandmas that have come out for the cause of defending the causes for Black Lives, free speech, and justice.
We are proud of Portland - for showing up and standing up. We’re ashamed at the disproportionately violent response from the Portland Police and the refusal of city leaders to make meaningful change that got us to day 60 of protest in the first place. We’re ashamed by the violent response from those who are supposed to be “protecting” us. And we are ashamed that we now have anonymous armored troops lurking on Portland streets bashing people with batons, using chemical weapons that are outlawed by international human rights treaties and throwing demonstrators into unmarked vans. We support a world where ALL human lives and bodies are valued over physical property, and the right to free speech and assembly is protected.
We encourage you to follow and learn more about the movement in Portland, particularly from the perspectives of Black (& BIPOC) organizers, at these accounts: