Trump's approach too much like Kent State
I was outraged when I saw the footage of a non-violent protesters getting shot in the head with a rubber bullet. "How can federal officers be harming Portland citizens in our own streets?" I thought.
I lost a lot of sleep that night due to anger and anxiety. Those feelings and sleep-deprived nights continue as I'm woken by flash-bangs every early morning and then watch: news footage of Trump's secret police — unidentified, poorly trained, militarized — pulling protesters into unmarked black vans and taking them 'somewhere,' and a Navy veteran being pummeled by baton-wielding storm troopers followed by pepper spray to the face.
I'm so thankful for the Wall of Moms who form a barrier between the protesters and federal thugs. I've walked down to the protests and applauded with the rest of the crowd as these brave, committed women — numbering in the hundreds — line the full block in front of the Justice Center with multiple rows of a yellow-shirted Portland mothers whose message silently shouts out prevention and protection from violence.
I was someplace recently where the sound system was playing "Ohio" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Every time I see federal troop brutality in Portland I can't help but think of Kent State in 1970. It's difficult for me to believe we've come back to that but the message for us is the same. "Gotta get down to it; Soldiers are cutting us down; Should have been done long ago; What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground; How can you run when you know?"
I'm not running from Trump's Gestapo. Portlanders aren't running from federal "Tin Soldiers." Our elected officials aren't running away from their duty to solve the protest issue, but that needs to be done the Oregon Way — by getting affected parties around the table and finding solutions together.
I must admit I'm not happy with the way our current city officials have handled the prolonged protests. Silence from the Mayor's Office, apparent confusion within the police department, the inability to identify an individual to take on a commanding, coordinating role; have in my opinion drug out what should have been a much faster resolution of a problem that's been hurting this city, My City.
In my 24 years of practice as a state public health official, I was involved in a variety of emergency responses. For the big ones, we worked closely with the health care community, local public health agencies, state and local law enforcement, State Emergency Management, the National Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Local, state and federal resources can work together to solve a crisis. Success relies upon: everyone knowing their role and staying "in their lane;" identifying and following the direction of an incident commander; and always letting the local situation and local leaders dictate what solution works best for their community.
An incident commander needs to be identified and vetted by stakeholders. Trump's unilateral "I know best" approach using intimidation and domination has no place in the City of Roses. He says our local leaders are incompetent and afraid of the protestors. I say the president is an ill-informed coward and bully. I love the "Back to the Future" movie trilogy and Trump would be perfect in the role of Biff. Just like in the movies, we need to make sure Portland's Marty McFly approach outsmarts Biff's stupidity and wins the day. And just like in the movies, I hope Trump ends up covered in a pile of manure.
Grant Higginson, MD, MPH, is a 59-year Portland resident with a 30-year career in public health, including 11 years as Oregon Public Health Officer. Editor's Note: this was written before federal forces pulled out of Portland.
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