crowd of protesters in dark at black lives matter protest downtown portland oregon photojournalist


Tonight I experienced something that felt like war.

Teargas. Flash bangs. Rubber bullets. Crowds running and screaming. Separated. Walking around the streets of Portland looking for a group of people. Windows boarded up. The police speeding up and down the streets, sirens blaring, loudspeaker roaring, riot trucks with ten cops pinned on the side. Smoke in the streets, fireworks going off.

pov police in gear through a fence outside the justice center during blm protest downtown portland photojournalism
cloud of smoke in a group of protesters at blm protest downtown portland oregon photojournalism
dozen police officers on the back of riot truck in full riot gear during black lives matter protest portland oregon

My eyes burned. My skin burned. I couldn’t breathe. It tasted awful.

Flash bangs are LOUD. They sound like bombs. Or what I imagine bombs sound like. It’s scary.

Being shot at is scary. When you’re holding your hands up saying “don’t shoot”, it’s scarier.

silhouette of a protester with their hands up with police officers in background portland oregon protest photojournalist

Listening to Black youth plead with the police to just care about their lives was, in a word, heartbreaking. Especially as officers laughed and smirked in response.

human with megaphone speaks to crowd of protesters blm protest downtown portland oregon photojournalism
crowd of protesters at night at justice center black lives matter protest downtown portland oregon photojournalist
protester waves red flag atop scaffolding at black lives matter protest portland oregon photojournalism
sign at protest reading stop killin black people blm protest downtown portland oregon photojournalist

The dystopian pandemic nightmare scene made me feel like I was actually really high and wasn’t experiencing what I was experiencing. But now that my body is finally reacting to what happened, I know it was just a coping mechanism to feel numb because I was actually walking through a dystopian hellscape of sorts.

protesters gather at pioneer square black lives matter protest portland oregon photojournalism

The protest I joined was peaceful and remained peaceful until 8PM.

protesters stand in front of fence and sign reading white silence equals violence blm protest downtown portland oregon
protester sits with chalk writing blm protest portland oregon photojournalist
protester holds up sign that says arrest killer kkkops with five police officers in background blm protest portland oreg

8PM. The city-imposed curfew time. While there was a protestor (or two) trying to agitate the police, the rest of the crowd remained peaceful and called on them to stop. The police reacted immediately.

That’s when the tear gas started. And then all hell broke loose.

protester walking past graffiti on wall that says black lives matter portland oregon
violinist plays near blm protest portland oregon photojournalism
car that has been engulfed in flames with grafitti on it downtown portland oregon photojournalism
grafitti on statue blm protest portland oregon

What a beautifully tragic terrifying yet inspiring moment in history.

The people are hurting and the pain is so real. I don’t know what the start of a revolution looks like but maybe it’s thousands of people all over the country getting together and demanding better from the law enforcement that is supposed to serve and protect them? For black lives and George Floyd and all of the many names the black community is asking us to say.

Maybe this is the start?