Like many, I have been absolutely horrified and disgusted by the chaos that has taken place in Portland, Oregon over the last couple of weeks. The images on the news have been harrowing: unidentified federal agents in military-style gear physically attacking peaceful protestors, in some cases even forcefully apprehending them and abducting them in unmarked vehicles.
Even if it is true that a small number of protesters have been violent, that is not an excuse for anonymous vigilantes to swoop in without authorization from the state and local government.
The exact reason that the police and military have identifiable markers and uniforms is so that they have legitimate recognition and authority from the public. Doing away with them is a slippery slope that could lead to total lawlessness and the erosion of law and order.
The events in Portland are extremely alarming for a number of reasons.
First because, as a lot of people are currently speculating, it could be a precursor to what Donald Trump plans to do if he loses the election in November. The president said on Fox News the other day that he is prepared to deploy as many as 75,000 federal agents across America, mainly to liberal cities which are the hubs of political resistance to his administration. If he refuses to leave office he could use these troops to quell and oppress any dissidence.
Second, it is almost identical to the kind of tactics that we’ve seen in countries like Russia and Chechnya to oppress the LGBTQ community. I physically shuddered when I saw footage of agents in Portland silently walking towards a peaceful protestor, physically picking him up, throwing him into a unmarked van and driving away – essentially kidnapping him. That is exactly what I saw in the Welcome to Chechnya documentary on HBO.
In Chechnya, law enforcement officers literally abduct LGBTQ citizens in the dead of night in unidentifiable vehicles, many of whom disappear without a trace. Survivors who have somehow gotten out have spoken of secret concentration camps where these innocent people become prisoners and are often tortured and killed.
I know it seems like we are far away here in the U.S. from that part of it, but we are not. First it’s unlawful abductions, next it could be mass imprisonment and genocide.
This is Trump’s America. If we do not stand up and fight back now, he will take it as a sign of weakness and submissiveness, and take that as a cue to ramp up his efforts.
He’s attacked other minority communities, and we know based on his already hostile agenda towards LGBTQ rights that he and his administration are no advocates or fans of our people. There’s no reason to think, especially if he isn’t challenged and stays in office through a second term, that he won’t take it to the next level.
The next six months will be of enormous consequence for our community and for the future of our country.