Black Lives Matter protests surging ahead in Portland
Despite 146 days having passed since George Floyd’s death the Portland racial protests are still going strong. Originally started on May 28, 2020 in response to the killing of Floyd by Minneapolis police, the Portland and Minneapolis protests were peaceful at first, but both quickly erupted into riots in some parts.
While the violence in Minneapolis has mostly subsided, the Portland riots have continued. Some Portland residents are fatigued of their presence.
“I think everyone in the city is pretty sick of it just going on,” said Ben Ellsworth, a Portland resident. “You walk downtown and all the shops are boarded up.”
It may seem strange to many residents that Portland of all cities has had the longest racial riots, as shows like “Portlandia” portray the city as a hipster, inclusive paradise. The reality is Portland has very few Black people living in it.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Portland’s population is 5.8% Black, whereas it is 19.4% in Minneapolis and 30.1% in Chicago. The low number of African Americans is no coincidence.
In 1844 the provisional government of Oregon passed the Oregon Black exclusion laws, which forbade Black settlers from entering the state. This discrimination persisted in Portland for a long time afterward.
The protests have also been spurred on by federal intervention, and the involvement of counter protesters such as the Proud Boys, identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The city of Portland has suffered tremendously.
“I’ve got a lease for my apartment that goes to the end of the year,” said Ellsworth, “and I think once it is done I am going to move out to the suburbs if that is possible.”