Saturday will see people in Portland, Oregon squaring off in protests and counter-protests over a racial reckoning too many white people refuse to acknowledge needs to happen. Even in light of the State of Kentucky officially declaring drywall to hold more value than the life of a Black woman in the outrageous grand jury decision regarding Breonna Taylor's killing by cops, large swaths of white people still don't believe we need to be out in the streets screaming that Black Lives Matter.
So aggrieved are these white people by the presence of Black people, accompanied by allies and supporters of all colors, demanding acknowledgement of their humanity and right to equal treatment, that they feel the need to have their own little protests. Only, in this case, they feel the need to wave their guns around. And their neo-Nazi flags. In some cases, even actual Nazi flags. They belong to one of several white nationalist groups, either the Proud Boys, or Patriot Prayer, or 3 Percenters. They don't like attention drawn to the fact that police brutality is being challenged, especially brutality directed at Black people.
CNN's Elle Reeve spent time with members of the Black Lives Matter protesters and the racists who oppose them to get a sense of their experiences and purpose. On the Black Lives Matter side, one protester she spoke to insisted, "We don't hate America. We only have one goal in mind, and that is to end police brutality." Reeve interviewed a medic who tended to people wounded in the protests, who said he covered all kinds of injuries, from being pushed into walls to canister shots. When she spoke to a young Black woman in the street about people who object to the damage to buildings, here was her response:
Hard to argue with. But of course...if you're a racist, you can. And Reeve spoke to the Patriot Prayer-types, too, who had this to say:
REEVE: Do you think this is a weird civil war?
NEONAZI: I don't see it as that yet. But, eventually, it could lead to that. The whole BLM/Antifa movement has just gotten more and more and more violent as time progresses. And it's literally across the nation. And we're tired of it. It's time for us, as patriotic citizens, to take back our cities. And if that means by violent means, we'll have to do it.
But they don't condone violence. They're not there to start trouble with their guns and ammo strapped to their bodies, and their ripping protesters' signs out of their hands. And, hey, they're tired of the Black Lives Matter movement that has swept the nation. I mean, I get why they're tired of it...five months is WAAAAY too long to have to deal with the inconvenience of protest, compared to 400 years of oppression.
Save the drywall.