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Opinion-writers from throughout Portland and around the nation offer their thoughts on the news of the week.

Stop me if you've heard this one

Things were totally out of control. There was rioting, protesting, disrespect for the established central government, and after the wanton destruction of property known as the Boston Tea Party, something had to be done! So in the spring of 1774, the good and wise King George the III sent in the troops.

The people of Boston could tell right away that these were military men, for they sure as heck weren't dressed like civilian authorities. Heavenly armed, they roamed the streets of the riotous city, enforcing laws and showing the people who was in charge. And after a brief show of force, known as the Boston Massacre, the anti-government activists melted away like snow in the spring.

The good people of Boston rejoiced that the good King had at last asserted his power. Restoring law and order at the point of a bayonet seemed in all ways right and proper to them. And that is how the story ended, so there is nothing else to say except; "Long live the King!" Am I right?

Now, you may call yourself smart to find the parts of the above narrative that diverge from history. But you would have to be dumb as a rock not to see that I'm talking about Portland in 2020, not Boston in 1774. But you're not dumb as a rock, and you know he's not a very stable genius, don't you.

My only hope is that those of us who know our history won't be forced to sit on the sidelines as others repeat it. Otherwise, it's going to be a long and bloody revolution.

Clayton Callahan, Aloha

Mayor, council fails to control our city

In addition to the weeks of larceny, looting, burning, rioting and destruction that is now part of Portland's national reputation, we hear the calls for help loud and clear from every corner of the city. Those calls fall on deaf ears as the carnage continues and what passes for leadership shrinks into a comical display of unprecedented excuses and hopeless incompetence.

The Tribune's July 15 front page has the exasperated PPA President Daryl Turner blasting the mayor and the City Council over their collective inability to lead or govern. His scathing comments conclude with the knowledge that our police have lost complete confidence in everything Wheeler says or does.

On the front of the Metro Life section of the Tribune is another piece by Walter Cole (aka Darcelle) who tells us his feelings about Wheeler and the future of Portland. While referencing the COVID-19 crisis, Cole saves his most vitriolic comments for Wheeler over what the city has turned into. He calls Portland "tent city" and "plywood city" as he laments the destruction of the location he's called home for decades.

As a long-time business icon of Portland and a very savvy business man, Cole is predicting the future. What Darcelle sees is bleak at best and catastrophic at worst. The streets are owned by the homeless and anarchist and as the businesses flee the area, the devolution of the City of Roses accelerates in larger numbers. Visitors shun the area and families no longer feel safe in downtown.

Portland now makes the nightly news as the premier location to witness the anathema of activity and the perdition of evil. All of this is well known to our residents. The speed at which the collapse is occurring is stunning, yet predictable given our current composite of "leaders" and their inane thinking.

What citizens search for are words of expression, or a collection of experiences that describe the ongoing fiasco. Alas, there are none. To seek out and understand the behavior of Wheeler and company is something that cannot be found. The English language does not contain the words to begin to find labels or titles for these people; it is impossible.

We look for reasoning … we try and find meaning when it doesn't exist. The actions of Wheeler (and of Gov. Kate Brown) appear neurotic at best, but more likely psychotic. The words from their mouths defy understanding.

There's no reason for me to continue. I'm dealing with a parallel universe, one that might be understood by Kafka or Orwell, but is clearly out of the realm of the ordinary citizen to embrace.

The only thing I can think that makes sense to me is to picture Wheeler in front of a full length mirror. Peering into the mirror and looking for a reflection, the mayor sees nothing. The man in the mirror doesn't exist, it's hologram without form or substance. I guess Nero did the same thing, so all we can do is listen to the wind and trust in some form of serendipity for the salvation of the city.

Clearly, it will not come from Wheeler and/or the City Council.

Jim Speirs, North Portland

Police should protect downtown protesters

I have an idea. How about the Portland police protecting the demonstrators from the feds by forming a barrier between the two factions?

This would serve three purposes:

1. It just might force the feds to back up their violence a bit (or a lot).

2. If the feds didn't pack it up and leave, or reduce their violence, or even (perish the thought) attack, pepper spray, etc., the Portland police, I wonder what (President) Trump supporters would think about that, given that they support the men in blue big time.

3. And this one's the most important as far as I'm concerned: The police, offering themselves as a shield to protect the Black Lives Matter movement, might actually improve relationships with the public hugely.

Jane Margulis, Waldport

We solve racism one discount at a time

I'm a racist.

I discriminate based on race. I'm a European-American self-employed home inspector, and give a 25% discount to Native Americans, African Americans, refugees, and first-generation immigrants (I call it a "friends and family discount").

According to feedback I've gotten from some real estate brokers, that is racially discriminatory behavior, prohibited by law. Whether legal or not, I feel this practice is important to help advance the cause of racial equality.

Races will never be equal until they are economically equal. Native Americans' land was taken from them, and now they often live in poverty. The promise of 40 acres and a mule to released slaves never materialized; Civil War reconstruction fizzled into Jim Crow; and majority European Americans used advantages like the U.S. Donation Land Claim Act of 1850, the Oregon Alien Land Law of 1923, the home loan system (including redlining), and real estate speculation and gentrification to accumulate wealth.

So we have the current situation where, nationally, white households have 13 times the wealth of black households and household income of Native Americans and Blacks is less than half that of whites.

We need to get beyond treating races equally, because they're not equal. We need to focus on economic equality — level the playing field democratically by person, not equally by dollar.

So some races should get advantages to more quickly bring them up to full participation in the economy according to their portion of the population. With this would come more respect and less abuse.

Jeff Strang, Northeast Portland

House candidate supports Portland police

Grieved, appalled, and angry — that's what I feel along with so many other Oregonians by what has been allowed to happen in Portland.

The police asked for support from our elected officials to "stand up and defend Portland. Condemn the violence and the burning, looting, and destruction of property."

I am not an elected official, but I am a candidate for the Oregon State House of Representatives, and part of my House District 27 is in Portland. I can say with confidence that the majority of people in HD 27 and I support our Portland police officers, and we do condemn the lawlessness, violence and destruction in Portland. Our hard-working, beleaguered police need every encouragement to allow them to do their jobs to bring peace back to Portland.

These weeks of destruction did not have to happen. A small group of violent protesters have hijacked the peaceful protesters whose voices are being drowned. I encourage Portlanders and Oregonians to stop and think before they cast their vote in November. Leadership matters.

Our police deserve better — and so do we.

Sandra Nelson, Beaverton

We need to fight for better health care

I feel that one of the most pressing needs we have as a nation is to find effective vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. While I am heartened by promising reports I also feel with the scope of the problem many more avenues need to be explored.

There are a myriad of companies and academics worldwide that have been reporting encouraging early results, yet only a handful have received sizeable subsidies for research and development and without those subsidies the speed in which these concepts become realities is stifled.

Congress, in particular the Senate, needs to pass some legislation to enable these payments to come swiftly as return to normalcy depends on it.

While I have been a single-payer and cost-containment advocate for decades, I am also a realist. Without a change in the leadership, and the makeup of the Senate, any bill with cost controls will not be heard by the Senate. We need to make cost controls a fight for a later day, work for payment subsidies for affordability factor after passage first.

Let's save some lives.

Mark Sturbois, Southeast Portland

Government changes could aid police reforms

What good is it going to do to cut the police bureau's budget if you aren't going to reorganize the functions and establish the accountability of the police? The recent police budget cutting intent by the City Council is in response to demands by those protesting police misconduct. But it is only a piecemeal approach to resolving a big-picture problem.

Camden, New Jersey, had terrible problems with police misconduct and crime but finally addressed these by totally reorganizing their police department. Now it is a model for community policing and crime there has dropped significantly. Such done in Portland could help to promote equity and equality here.

What also would help would be a change to the current commission form of government. The current system puts politicians in charge of police and other significant city bureaus without them necessarily having the knowledge or skills to run such operations. The failure of the current system is obvious.

In addition, it would be productive if the police would stop showing up to every protest in riot gear. That is an invitation to escalate a nonviolent protest into an angry confrontation. Bans on the use of tear gas and (so called) nonlethal bullets should be mandated. And officers should be permitted and encouraged to join protest walks (as has occurred in other cities) to show empathy if not support.

This would help to mitigate tensions between the protesters and police while letting those few who would instigate trouble know that there is still a police presence.

David Krogh, Southeast Portland

Journalists fanned flames of these protests

So it seems now that "journalists" are assaulted it seem more important for the looting, burning , assaults on business owners or just plain regular citizens to be addressed?

It was all OK as night after night the rioters, looters, arsonists roamed the streets terrorizing and tearing down the city, as the press called "peaceful protests."

But now a so-called journalist is assaulted it's a crime? The press are the ones fanning the flames and giving legitimacy to these thugs.

And now it's all wrong. Can you spell hypocrite?

Steven C. Ball, Northeast Portland

Don't let school districts endanger lives

Teachers of Oregon: Why is our health, and the health of our students, worth so little in the eyes of our "leaders"? Now is the time for all of us to band together and refuse to take part in a march to our possible deaths.

Cases of COVID-19 are rapidly rising with the partial re-opening of businesses, and they will likely skyrocket if students and staff return to the classroom this fall. Unless classes are held entirely outdoors, and children are somehow straightjacketed from touching their peers or removing their masks, there is simply no way to avoid furthering the spread of the virus in our schools. We must not stand for this irrationality.

In a profession which is already underpaid, understaffed and grossly undervalued, we teachers must ask ourselves this question: If all of us refuse to endanger our lives by returning to work, who will the school districts be able to find and recruit to replace us? I think we all know the answer.

Joe Meyer, Happy Valley

Closing community centers hurts everyone

I am outraged by Mayor Ted Wheeler's and Portland Parks Director Adena Long's decision to close all Portland Parks Community Centers and swimming pools for a minimum of a year, not because of health reasons, but because no fees have been collected since mid-March.

Their email to Portland parks participants also contains a threat that these facilities will remain closed indefinitely unless voters pass a levy in November. Portland parks community centers and swimming pools provide essential services for children, seniors, immigrants, disabled persons and people with low to moderate incomes.

These facilities are unlike for-profit gyms. They exist to serve people of all ages and physical abilities, and are a welcoming place for everyone. Portland parks facilities provide a place for children to learn to swim, and to play and socialize with others. They provide camps, after school programs and special programs for home-schooled children. Their Teen Force program enables adolescents to have fun together in a healthy way and gives them adult mentors.

For seniors, Portland parks helps them stay healthy with programs geared towards them, and alleviates the social isolation which can be devastating to older adults.

For everyone, Portland's community centers provide art, music, cultural activities and internet access, in addition to athletic pursuits.

Portland parks community centers and swimming pools are the last places that should be shut down, especially for such an extended amount of time and in such an abrupt manner, with no opportunity for input by the people of Portland.

Sarah Linden, Northeast Portland

Good dining alternatives to meat this summer

COVID-19 heralds some good news for this summer. We won't be facing heavy traffic. And, the scarcity of meat will keep our outdoor grills safe.

Folks who grill hamburgers and hot dogs face a nasty choice. The U.S. Meat and Poultry Hotline advises grilling at high temperature to avoid food poisoning by E. coli and salmonella bacteria. But the National Cancer Institute warns that high-temperature grilling of processed meats generates cancer-causing compounds.

Fortunately, we no longer need to choose between food poisoning and cancer!

A bunch of enterprising U.S. food processors have met this challenge head-on by developing a rich variety of convenient, healthful, delicious plant-based veggie burgers, veggie dogs and soy nuggets. These products don't harbor nasty bugs or cancer-causing compounds. They are missing the cholesterol, saturated fats, drugs, hormones and pesticides of their animal-based alternatives. And, they are waiting for us in the frozen food section of our favorite supermarket, along with nut-based ice creams and other dairy-free desserts.

Let's declare our independence from the meat industry, which exposes its workers to COVID-19 infection. And let's stay away from both the COVID and the barbecue bugs!

Charlie Richter, Southeast Portland

Letters from around the nation

Portlanders, you get what you deserve

It is so fun to watch Portland burn and your citizens unprotected by an incompetent mayor and governor.

You all voted for this, now live with it. You all keep telling us how woke you are and inclusive.

Maybe one day you will wake up. In the meantime, please do not move anywhere else in the country and vote like you do. Stay put and enjoy the utopia you voted for.

Andy Breshear, Northbrook, Illinois

To stop protest violence, work with police

To minimize the potential negative effects of the outside enforcement measures may have on your city besides any lawlessness by citizens, I propose a police/protester partnership to address the pre-existing problems as well as any issues that may be forthcoming from outside agents.

Let's face it, we have all seen videos of the police brutality, not only on people of color but also on protestors, and it has to stop. Unfortunately, there are opportunists that are using the protests as cover to loot and vandalize as well as those turning protests into riots to derail the protest movement, and this is a relatively small number of people. They are causing problems for both the police and the protestors. Perhaps it is time to be the change we desire and join forces against these troublemakers. Protesters should assist the police to keep the streets safe from these thugs and criminals. They could take videos of any wrong-doers and call a police hotline to come remove them from the streets, as they are the first obstacle in your efforts to stop police brutality and militarism of police forces and get back to community safety.

Mayors should assist by meeting with protest leaders and setup such partnerships to make the first steps toward re-building trust between both parties, and get the police back to actually serving the public. This same system can also be used to document and report unwarranted use of force by outside agents.

And don't forget to mask-up.

Paul O'Byrne, Thonotosassa, Florida

Time could be running out for protests

If Chad Wolf ordered the kidnapping of Portland residents, then he should be charged with felony kidnapping.

This needs to be done quickly. Every delay in filing charges will embolden Wolf and Trump. A policy of appeasement will not work out well (see history lesson of Germany post-WWI).

At this very moment I would expect that there are activists in your city who are plotting their own counter-kidnapping actions. The only way to prevent escalation is to arrest the people violating other people's rights. It really does not matter if the charges stick at this point, though I think they will.

Chad Wolf comes across as a man who believes there are no limits for law enforcement when imposing "order" (his personal definition of order). He will probably freely admit to kidnapping under the legal definition if questioned because he believes those rules are irrelevant to him.

Rationality needs to be imposed quickly. (President) Trump wants to create an excuse to invoke the Insurrection Act. San Francisco and Portland are the two cities most hated by Trump's base. Make no mistake, his intent is to invade your city. When Trump tweets: "disperse and go home by. . ." that will be his invocation of the Insurrection Act and you can expect troops in your city within hours. (Read the act, this is literally all he has to do before sending troops.)

The House will not be in session during the entire month of August. Meanwhile he will have Chad Wolf kicking the ant hill more and more.

Look for him to tweet on Aug. 1. You have two weeks.

Kevin English, Austin, Texas

Local officials must flex political muscle

Re: "Merkley: Federal presence at protests making situation worse" (Jun. 16, pamplinmedia.com)

Although I wholeheartedly agree with Sen. (Jeff) Merkley's concerns regarding the presence of federal officers in Portland; Merkley, like Mayor (Ted) Wheeler and Commissioner (JoAnne) Hardesty, must do more than use President Trump's hardball tactics as a scapegoat.

If city officials want to protect their constituents from Trump's anonymous mercenaries and are willing to do more than play politics, it is incumbent upon them to create and communicate a plan to restore peace in Portland without the aid of federal muscle.

While the directives from Trump and the Department of Homeland Security have certainly inflamed tensions in Portland, their actions did not prompt the unrest, nor will their removal be enough to satisfy protestors.

The people of Portland deserve the unity that has been continuously promised to them by leaders like Merkley and Wheeler, but no healing will take place until the finger-pointing stops, sleeves are rolled up, and a plan to end the violence in Portland is enacted.

Peter Dranow, Schenectady, New York

Protests frighten out-of-town visitors

As a recent visitor to Portland, we witnessed nightly a deplorable situation that the mayor of Portland has chosen to ignore: 50 nights of protests. Not peaceful protests but damaging protests, where we feared going outdoors after 5 p.m.

This situation has not lasted several days, but for over a month. Instead, (the mayor) touts this as freedom of speech.

So once the city of Portland is damaged beyond repair in many ways, is he going to tell the taxpayers the damage will be repaired with an increase in their taxes? Are visitors going to visit Portland? I doubt it.

We have told people not to visit Portland because the mayor has no control of the government nor any vision for the future of Portland if there is a Portland once the protesters destroy the city.

Mamie Sanborn, Suffield, Connecticut

How does a naked person fight racism?

Those protesting the presence of federal agents in Portland claim to support justice for Black people. For some of them, however, it is just an excuse to have a good time by destroying property, looting and generally causing problems.

The most puzzling image I saw from the protest movement was a photograph in the Los Angeles Times website of a naked woman sitting on the streets of Portland. Her back was turned to the camera, and she was flashing the police.

What is the point of that? How could flashing at the police, destroying property or looting help bring justice to Black people?

I can't think of anything that is being accomplished other than the spread of coronavirus. Stay home. Wear a mask.

Ralph Kerr, Leander, Texas


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