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Letters to the Portland Tribune from outside the state point to a big national problem for normally weird, beer-brewing 'Portlandia.'

PMG FILE PHOTO - Months of downtown Portland protests have soured people outside of the state on the Rose City. Here's what people outside of Oregon think of Portland after months of nightly downtown protests broadcast on television and social media: The city is a burned-out war zone overrun by wild Antifa mobs and Molotov cocktail-throwing anarchists on skateboards.

That's a little different than the Rose City's usual national image as an environmentally progressive but slightly wacky bike-riding, beer-brewing, coffee-swilling "Portlandia" backdrop.

Is Portland going to Hades in a handbasket? Some folks in Texas think so.

"You liberals have a major problem," wrote Tim Futch to the Tribune from his home in Victoria, Texas. "All this stuff happening there is your fault and no one else's. You people that don't want to take off the gloves and unleash the hounds to do what needs to be done. I hope your city burns and your mayor gets gassed again."

"Why are you afraid to call in the army to stop the anarchists?" asked Terry Grebe from Houston. "Nobody lifts a finger to stop this. Four weeks is long enough."

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

"I hope your city burns and your mayor gets gassed again."

In dozens of letters, emails and phone calls to the Portland Tribune during the past few weeks, people across the nation expressed anger, shock and dismay that the city and state would let people gather for nearly 70 nights to rally outside the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on Southwest Third Avenue in downtown Portland. Most people are convinced the "liberal" city is getting what it deserves. Others say they support Black Lives Matter protesters and others who gather peacefully each night in downtown.

"It is so fun to watch Portland burn and your citizens unprotected by an incompetent mayor and governor," write Andy Breshear from Northbrook, Illinois. "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."

Jill Savely of Reno warned Portland protesters that "the world is watching." "You've brought this on yourselves," Savely wrote to the Tribune. "Do not ask for federal funds to rebuild. That would be morally reprehensible to expect already overburdened taxpayers in other states to pay for Portland's arrogance and stupidity."

PMG FILE PHOTO - Nightly tear gas clouds prompted Portland officials to clean out downtown storm drains to keep the toxic gas from flowing into the Willamette River. Outside of Oregon, letter writers saw the protests as a failure of Portland's liberal politics.

'Look pretty dumb'

Not everyone who wrote to the Tribune condemned the protests. A handful of people supported protesters' cause, and decried the use of federal agents to quell downtown rallies.

Fred Silverman, a Texan who lives in Berlin, wrote that he was "shocked" to see camouflaged federal agents making arrests in downtown Portland. "It looks from the news footage like an occupation force," Silverman wrote.

John McNamara of Hanover, New Hampshire, wrote that moving protests away from federal agents guarding the U.S. courthouse could shift the media image. "The troops are supposedly there to protect federal buildings," he wrote. "If protests are held elsewhere, those troops look pretty dumb standing alone in front of a quiet federal building."

McNamara has friends in Portland. He's not sure how much damage the protests are doing to the city's image. "But I do feel that if the protesters changed the venue away from the federal building, the troops would look foolish standing guard to empty streets."

Denver's Mardi Mathers also suggested people should stay away from downtown and protest at home, something that would "surprise the hell out of the enemy."

"Negative perceptions are hard to overcome, but right now it appears the pandemic is the primary reason visitors are not coming to Portland."

"To get rid of the federal troops that have invaded Portland, get everyone to stay home and protest in their own yards or through their apartment windows with banners and howling," Mathers wrote.

Kathy Wommack of Richmond, Virginia, suggested something similar. "They say the storm troopers were sent there to 'protect federal property,' " she wrote. "Gather elsewhere and these federal militia can stand there at the buildings and protect them from nothing."

Wommack said she has seen firsthand local Black Lives Matter protests in Richmond's streets. She hasn't been to Portland, but hopes to some day visit the city as part of her "bucket list."

John C. Gull of Sandton, South Africa, wrote about a change.org petition he had started to charge President Trump, Attorney General William Barr and Department of Homeland Acting Secretary Chad Wolf with crimes related to actions by federal agents during Portland's protests. The online petition has just one signature.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Federal agents in camouflaged uniforms guarded the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse for weeks during sometimes violent downtown protests. People in other states said the army should have been called in to stop the 'lawless' protesters.

Pandemic, not protest, hurts economy

Nightly media coverage and 'round-the-clock social media exposure has painted a picture of Portland in flames. Peaceful rallies by groups supporting the national Black Lives Matter movement have taken place in downtown and other neighborhoods for weeks. A yellow-clad Wall of Moms and Moms United for Black Lives have joined leaf-blower dads, a wall of military veterans and others during peaceful rallies outside the courthouse.

After the peaceful rallies, however, usually late at night or early morning, other protesters have confronted federal Department of Homeland Security agents, shined laser pointers at their eyes and pelted them with paint, canned food and bottles of frozen water. Agents often responded with tear gas and less-than-lethal ammunition.

COURTESY PHOTO: C-SPAN - Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told a Senate committee Aug. 6 that dozens of federal agents had been injured during nightly protests outside Portland's federal courthouse.DHS Acting Secretary Wolf told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Aug. 6 that about 120 federal agents from several departments, including homeland security and the U.S. Marshals Service, were deployed in Portland. Dozens of the officers have been injured during clashes with violent protesters, Wolf said, usually between midnight and 5 a.m. each night.

Online videos also showed federal agents without visible names or insignia on their camouflaged uniforms driving through downtown in rented, unmarked vans detaining people. Wolf said agents had numbers on their uniforms for identification. He also said arrests of specific protesters were made "within two or three blocks of federal property."

More than 200 people were arrested in connection with the federal courthouse protests.

Another video showed federal agents beating and pepper-spraying a U.S. Navy veteran who stood in the street and tried to talk with them. The veteran, Christopher David, told his story to the Aug. 4 House Oversight and Reform Committee's Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Roundtable.

Is the parade of protest images people around the country see each day a problem for Portland's image? Jeff Miller, president and chief executive officer of Travel Portland, said media coverage of the nightly demonstrations wasn't a positive picture of the Rose City, but it might not hurt future tourism. Travel slowdowns and the COVID-19 pandemic could be bigger factors, he said.

"Travel Portland takes very seriously any issues that could have an impact on consumer perceptions of Portland," Miller said. "We monitor the coverage . . . knowing it could result in damage to Portland's reputation as a desirable tourism destination. However, past demonstrations that received large amounts of negative coverage did not have any trackable impact on visitors. Despite extensive media coverage around these events, Portland saw record tourism numbers that followed a steady tourism growth for more than 10 years.

"Negative perceptions are hard to overcome, but right now it appears the pandemic is the primary reason visitors are not coming to Portland."

Miller pointed out that recent downtown protests were usually in a three- or four-block area, far from most of the city's usual attractions. (Recent, sometimes violent smaller protests have moved from downtown to police buildings in Southeast and Northeast Portland neighborhoods.)

National media coverage sometimes makes it appear "as though the entire city is engulfed in protests," Miller said, but that gives a false impression. "Plenty of visitor-friendly neighborhoods and attractions away from the federal courthouse are reopening successfully," he said.

Travel Portland will work with city officials and local businesses to "reopen the downtown economy in a meaningful way." Miller said the organization would continue its push to "reengage with consumers and media" and boost local tourism.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Travel Portland's Director Park visitors center still hopes to attract people to the city after the pandemic passes. Downtown protests probably won't have a big impact on future tourism to the area, officials said.

Full of lawlessness

It might take a lot to get some people to visit the city after its downtown-in-flames image is stuck in the nation's imagination. Mary Lou Sanborn of Suffield, Connecticut, wrote that she visited Portland in mid-June, staying in the Marriott Hotel on Broadway, about four blocks from protests outside the federal courthouse. She was afraid to leave her hotel after 5 p.m. because of the nightly melee.

"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," she wrote in a letter to the editor.

Sanborn said it was her first — and very likely last — visit to the Rose City. "People will leave the city and never return," she said. "Portland will never be the same."

Victoria, Texas' Tim Futch said he had not been to Portland, but his wife has. "And I certainly would not (visit) now. It's too full of lawlessness."

Ditto for Leander, Texas' Ralph Kerr. "I have never been to Portland, and I don't intend to visit," he said.

Frank Green of Eagle Rock, Missouri, said he recently met four former Portlanders who relocated to Kansas City, Missouri, looking for "a more normal life." He "welcomed them to our neighborhood," with a slight twist: "The only thing I asked was that they leave all of those failed politics and policies that created those taxes, high cost of living and chaos in Oregon and vote accordingly," Green wrote. "Come here to enjoy the best of middle America. Please don't come here and make it another version of Portland."

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HERE ARE SOME OF THE OUT-OF-STATE LETTERS

Why are you afraid to call in the army to stop the anarchist? Are you making money off the anarchy?

There's something wrong. Nobody lifts a finger to stop this. Four weeks is long enough, don't you think?

Terry Grebe, Houston

• • •

Protesters need to take lots of pictures — of other protesters who throw things, start fires, or damage property.

Such acts are only providing (President) Trump and (Attorney General William) Barr with an excuse to violently attack peaceful protesters.

Send your pictures to the local paper. They can publish pictures and request (Oregon) Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to try to identify individuals in those pictures.

We might be surprised to find some non-peaceful protesters are actually Trump supporters. Take pictures.

Ronald Paulinski, Santa Barbara, California

• • •

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 mean time, 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 minimize the potential negative effects of the outside enforcement measures may have on your city besides any lawlessness by citizens, I propose a police/ protestor 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 wrongdoers 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

• • •

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, or any vision for the future of Portland — if there is a Portland once the protesters destroy the city.

Mamie Sanborn, Suffield, Connecticut

• • •

Dear Portland: The nation and the world is watching.

You've brought this on yourselves. Do not ask for federal funds to rebuild. That would be morally reprehensible to expect already overburdened taxpayers in other states to pay for Portland's arrogance and stupidity.

Jill Savely, Reno

• • •

Here's an idea. To get rid of the federal troops that have invaded Portland, get everyone to stay home and protest in their own yards or through their apartment windows with banners and howling.

We all know that the Trump administration is trying to use Portland and any other city to get reelected on a law-and-order ticket. So, as the "Art of War" suggests, surprise the hell out of the enemy.

Mardi Mathers, Denver

• • •

As the purpose of the protests is to promote Black Lives Matter and ending systemic racism and social injustices, why not move the protests to a public space away from the federal buildings?

The peaceful protesters are not interested in setting fires or throwing items at either the police or the storm troopers sent in by Barr and Trump. They say the storm troopers were sent there to "protect federal property." Gather elsewhere and the federal militia can stand there at the buildings and protect them from nothing.

Do not allow these troops to incite violence. That is playing into Trump's playbook by allowing video of violence.

Stay strong and peaceful. Gather elsewhere and the media will follow.

Kathy Wommack, Richmond, Virginia

• • •

Though I live in Virginia I would like to comment on the protest, looting, shootings and burnings.

These people who are doing this need to be arrested and ordered to pay for the damage. You as citizens not doing any of those things must demand it. Why? All the extra police and overtime is not free. All the damage is not free. Your taxes and higher cost will pay for it.

You have people coming from the outside causing damage. They don't care because the residents of Portland will get stuck with the bill.

On top of all this all the money the federal government is handing out, more going on food stamps and Medicaid isn't free.

When you start back to work your taxes will be going up. You think these people who get COVID-19 have insurance to cover the bills? Most will go on Medicaid. Taxpayers will be paying their bills.

Bill Moughamian, Hampton, Virginia

• • •

The Portland police department needs to take the city back from the federal thugs.

They should deploy between the feds and protestors to protect their citizens.

Ted Vomacka, Antioch, California

• • •

Dear city of Portland: We are so saddened by the riots and destruction of property in your city.

I have been to Portland and it was such a nice city. It is crazy how protesters are destroying Portland.

Our thoughts are with you as you work to rebuild all the damage being done.

Ernie Pouttu, Akron, Ohio

• • •

One approach would be for Oregon to pick up every unidentified person wandering the streets wearing camo clothing and carrying a weapon. Hold them until normal business hours so that, one by one, they can be identified.

They would need to confirm that they are, in fact, an agent with a federal agency by contacting that agency for verification that they work there and were deployed to the city.

Again, they would need to be done for each person, one at a time. This would need to be done every night. At least until they have started to wear the proper agency identification.

Portland needs to know that these people are and confirm that they not just some radical group on the streets to take advantage of a political situation. Surely no one in the federal hierarchy would do that and try to shield bad actors from accountability. Or, is there?

Wayne Widner, San Pedro, California

• • •

I am shocked that federal agents were sent to Portland. It looks from the news footage like an occupation force.

What federal agency is it and why are they wearing military camoflage?

The Trump administration is recollective of passages in the Declaration of independence: "He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

"He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

"He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures."

Will this tyrant last till November?

Frank Silverman, Berlin, Germany

• • •

Why don't you use water hoses from the fire department to disperse these criminals? They have nothing to do with Black Lives Matters. They just want to upset society and take over our country.

Why can't you use them in Portland, Seattle, Chicago or anywhere they decide to show up and cause problems for you. It's costing this country a fortune for all the damage that they do.

Sherry Green, Hollywood, Florida

• • •

I recently met four people who recently left Portland to relocate to Kansas City. They related that they wanted to leave the high cost of living, taxes and chaos for a more normal life.

All of those things make sense and I welcomed them to our neighborhood. The only thing I asked was that they leave all of those failed politics and policies that created those taxes, high cost of living and chaos in Oregon and vote accordingly.

Leaving to escape something and then turning around and voting for the same party and failed policies that created what you are escaping, is idiotic.

The Midwest is a great place to live. While we deal with much of the same problems of other large cities, we do so on a smaller scale that is still manageable.

Come here to enjoy the best of Middle America. Please don't come here and make it another version of Portland.

Frank Green, Eagle Rock, Missouri

• • •

Sincere protest against police brutality has been twisted by certain media to be reported as lawless riots allowed by liberal officials. Nightly images on national news showing tear gas and military clad unmarked enforcers seem to inflame both sides drowning out the original intent of the protest.

If you take away the kindling, the fire will die. I suggest a shift in strategy. Stage protests away from any federal building and you remove the fodder for the twisted news misrepresentation.

The troops are supposedly there to protect federal buildings. If protests are held elsewhere, those troops look pretty dumb standing alone in front of a quiet federal building.

Next, get to work on the hard part, which is to change public policy, which currently allows police to get away with murder. It is not OK to kill unarmed and handcuffed citizens whose crime was passing a phony $20 bill.

John McNamara, Hanover, New Hampshire

• • •

In Boston, 250 years ago, the despot, King George III of England, sent his soldiers to Boston to guard his money house. The colonists of Boston protested, and several were killed in the ensuing Boston Massacre, among them, Crispus Attucks, a Black life that matters in early American history.

There followed among the Grievances of our Declaration of Independence:

Grievance 11: "He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures."

And the people of the American colonies declared their independence to live free or die.

Long live the people of Portland, Oregon.

Edward Pontacoloni, Lake George, New York

• • •

Portland beware, and do not take the bait.

Donald Trump is trying to incite violence on the streets of Portland and other cities by sending in uninvited federal officials in unidentified fatigues so he can invoke martial law and call off the election in November.

Remember he accused (former President) Obama of wanting to invoke martial law, and we know how often Donald Trump does exactly what he accuses others of doing. He will do anything to stay in power. And if he doesn't, his narcissistic personality disorder predisposes him to try to take down the ship with the captain.

Please take your protest off the streets and on to social media.

Kersten Tanner, Point Arena, California

• • •

I am writing from South Africa. I noticed with disgust and dismay, the actions of Trump's storm troopers kidnapping citizens off the streets and assaulting them physically with batons and teargas.

I therefore started a petition, which you could possibly share, to charge Trump, Barr, Wolf and his assistant as well as the head of Homeland Security in Portland with these crimes.

I believe that he cannot pardon himself or others for crimes brought by the state as opposed to federal crimes, which of course he can and has done.

John C Gull, Sandton, Gauteng, South Africa


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