A Recommendation

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July 22, 2020 10:35 a.m.

Before we get to far into the day’s news I wanted to recommend to you this article about Portland. It’s by Robert Evans writing in Bellingcat, a publication/collaborative I’m most familiar with for their crowd-sourced forensics out of conflict zones on the periphery of the former Soviet Union. TPM Reader RK flagged the piece to our attention.

What makes the piece so good and worth your while is the density and lucidness of the reporting. Evans has been on scene reporting on the protests since the very beginning in May, seemingly every single day right in the protests themselves. The reporting is both vivid and dispassionate while also being clearly engaged. I’ve tried to touch on some of the broad dynamics of this story. Here you have it way down to the particulars, with a richness of detail that is both literary and deeply informative. You may or may not agree with Evans’ perspective. But like all good writing you’ll come away knowing much more regardless.

Here’s one amazing passage …

On July 4th, Portland’s thirty-ninth consecutive night of protests, more than a thousand people assembled in front of the Justice Center and Federal Courthouse downtown. They began launching dozens of commercial-grade fireworks into the concrete facades of both buildings, prompting a response from the police and federal agents inside both buildings.

What followed resembled nothing so much as a medieval siege. The windows of both government buildings had been covered in plywood weeks ago, after the first riots. Officers inside fired out through murder holes cut in the plywood, pumping rubber bullets, pepper balls and foam rounds into the crowd, while the crowd formed phalanxes of shield-bearers to protect the men and women launching fireworks back in response. Federal agents dumped tear gas into the street, but Portland’s frontline activists had long since lost their fear of gas. The feds and the police were eventually forced to sally out with batons to drive the crowd back.

I reported on the fighting in Mosul back in 2017, and what happened that night in the streets of Portland was, of course, not nearly as brutal or dangerous as actual combat. Yet it was about as close as you can get without using live ammunition. At times, dozens of flash-bangs and fireworks would detonate within feet of us over the course of a few minutes. My ears rang for days afterwards. My hands shook. I could not write for days.

Read the whole thing here.

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