To: the new Biden Administration
Attention - the honorable Cedric Richmond Senior Advisor to the President
Greetings elected officials, diplomats, and honorable people,
Last time I wrote my elected officials it was under a circumstance of distress. I'm pleased to say that my experience with that situation was resolved with the help and assistance of some good people in public service. I dont write these letters often because Im often not feeling up to putting the kind of energy it requires to express the situation in terms that are solution oriented. But I seek solution oriented strategies often to remedy strife and stress that people in my community live with. It appears to be a time once again to update on the latest issue that we need serious intervention.
My name is Ty S I live in Portland Oregon with my wife and son. The experiences as a high school student was quintessential to a Black man growing up in Oregon but my story is unorthodox. My trajectory in education was similar to phil knight of nike as I share two of the four schools he attended: Cleveland High and U of O. So Im as Oregon as the swoosh, Powells, and the Rudolph sign. Politics is my life mostly having been involved in the Oregon students of color coalition and OSA in 2004 and Urban League in 2009 before going on to serve in the Oregon Health Authorities Transformation Center and the Oregon Advocacy Commissions. I'm particularly proud of my community organizing in the between 2004-2016 which includes electing Obama, helping Black Activist run for office, and building a grassroots community health worker project called We Are Health Movement. Once Trump came to power things changed dramatically for the worse in Oregon. Nearly all of my activism ended as a powerful racist insurgency became more visibly violent and threatening to the Black community.
Events of Portland Oregon 2020 require intense analysis. Im not a total alarmist about our situation like our media has gaslit and painted Oregon as a place on fire with leftist anarchists extremists. Please recognize that intervention can only be settled diplomatically at this point. We have lived and walked and witnessed a very violent escalation since 2016. Look at the evidence of tracking hate crimes in our state https://www.splcenter.org/hate-map?year=2016&state=OR . We should not be on this list. We have such a small populations of minorities including Black, Hispanic, Asian and Native populations and the many immigrant cultures are very small in overall numbers. The story behind these hate crimes is a way more then just isolated incidents there is a large scale and spreading networks of organizations that only purpose is to antagonize, disrupts, hate, punish and resort to violent intimidation and terrorism.
Hate groups in Oregon have dramatically grown in the last four years and as a political, social, and defensive response people have responded in a counter activity to keep those movements from growing further and pledge to end their reign of terror. It started in mid 2016 when Jeremy Christian a pre-radicalized activist with the Proud Boys murdered in 2 people on the Max Transit system (which is like our rail car). Jeremy Christian is part a new movement of internet organizers that have particularly recruited young white men to organizations like the oath keepers, 3 percenters, and inspired by the Bundy occupation movement of 2016. They are living in the shadows of Waco movement. Out west they love that shit and 2016 opened the door for growth of these right wing extremism. Oregon responded initially in Portland by counter protesting against the groups that would gather in various parts of the city including on the Federal freeway 213, Downtowns Terry Shrunk Plaza, and Tom Macall Park.
Each of the events in the summer of 2016 organized by violent right wing extremists involved heavy confrontation from counter protesters. This included verbal, physical, and organized violence. This was warfare in a small scale. But many things escalated. This history must include a contextualization of the types of organizations that began to sprout and grow on the opposition which I will categorize as the organized left until I describe it more fully. In Portland initially the ecumenical faith community, the non-profit activists, labor, and a variety of socialist organizations. Some of this coalition of organizations had previously collaborated against neoNazis in the 80s as resistance to hate before. The events of Jeremy Christian galvanized a large scale opposition that sought to resist racialized terrorism of that kind in our community. As events and confrontations continued to persist summer after summer after summer we are now where we are today. As the events continued the city of Portland often utilized the Portland Police Bureau as a referee of sorts to prevent wide scale violence. But there were many instances where people of Portland felt that Portland Police were more favorably protecting the right wing groups more and more the activists involved from the left lost favor with the city government, Police leadership and elected such as Ted Wheeler. The impasse really escalated between the city representatives and diplomats in political actions, contract negotiations for the police union contracted are included as a source of the strain and political tensions escalating.
The summer of 2020 was by far the most chaotic situation because the global movement for justice for George Floyd and Briana Taylor tied with Oregons #BLM picked up a new confrontation with the Police and state officers in downtown Portland. Oregon activists like many other states have been fighting for justice for many unarmed black men and women and those with mental illness shot and killed by the Portland, Vancouver, and Gresham police. Local movements converged it was a mashing of black activism in a new generation of young and emerging people for Black Lives with the Oregon defenders and anti fascists who had basically been in battle with right wing extremists continuously for 4 years. The combination produced energy seen no where else in the country. The City saw had over 130 days of continuous protest in a call for anti racism, justice for police murders, and anti capitalism oppression. Now I do not need to detail all of these events and how they were organized and what happened between the night to night. I do know that a lot has happened and most documenting and historicizing these events can tell that story. My purpose today is explain that there is a diplomatic intervention needed. We are desperate in this city for a focus of attention that doesn't involve us looking down the dark hole of a barrel.
There needs to be a peace tribunal set up in our city (similar to south africa). The need is so great out here. No convening, No conversations, Nothing seems to be working. Please help us out here and we don't need photo ops, only real commitment and work can solve anything we got out here. The pain is deep and the grievances are so numerous that our community might not heal for a generation.
We need peace in this city. We need peace. Peace between police and protesters and between the right wingers. There are some clear changes needed. Here are my suggestions that will give people a part of power.
Total and complete overhaul of the law enforcement in this country in the first step we must examine. The Portland Police contract needs a total revamp. All of there leadership needs to be changed. There is a certain segment of Portland that wont setter for less. The many proposals by thousands of activist in portland none of which has happened in the more then 4 years of advocacy: https://www.portlandmercury.com/blogtown/2020/06/09/28519183/all-of-the-...
We need to accelerate these changes locally and nation wide. We are not an outlier here it is part and parcel of similar movements that started in Furgeson.
Even if you or your office got involved and moved the needle on any of these issues Portland still will need to grapple with its right wing violent extremism problem, because it is growing out of control with reports of continuous recruitment in the suburbarbs and nationwide show this. Oregon is the theater of a national program targeting this state as battle ground for the clash of extreme ideologies. What should we do about that? Well my feel is that its not important to most law enforcement or it really feels like it. The law cant really keep up with the type of warfare that is just as much virtual as it is physically in the streets. It will have to be part of a robust strategic initiative on a large scale organized nationally coordinated and well resourced. No longer can cities afford to build volunteer resistances to hate groups. There needs to be a common societal agreement on this in a new contract of acceptance of what is right and wrong in our communities. It is appropriate but it will also need alternative opportunities to get people out of those groups.
Violence is not ended here and we expect next year will be worse then this one and we live in fear for our lives. Black people in particular fear that violence is eminent in any outing, they must use precautions to protect themselves in this kind of violent political and social environment because your skin tone and or your social status is often the determinant factor. Hate crimes need national attention to end. We need a nation wide movement to end racism. Many of the right wing extremists are entrenched in their ideology and need an counter narrative that is stronger to inject alternative perspectives. But it might be too late for that here in Oregon we are at the point where violence and counter violence are yearly occurrences and it becomes a matter of desperation to even reach out to the federal government for help and support.
Oregon is my home that I spent most this year has required a high level of alertness and protection of my home and family. This is the first year we have seriously discussed leaving the United States because really feel unsafe for us to live here and thrive.
I hope this country can do something about our situation with both Policing and Hate before we dissolve into non stop tribal warfare and violence. This call to action and support will go to the high courts of international conflict.
Please help me forward this letter to leaders of every civil society.