On June 1, 2020, over 5,000 national guard troops, Washington police, and US Park police unleashed teargas, batons, and horses upon a crowd of Black Lives Matter demonstrators outside of the White House. They made no attempt to breech the security of the building, yet army helicopters circled overhead and teargas filled the air around them. A block away, President Trump stood in front of a church holding a bible and posing for photos, using the crowd of demonstrators struggling to see and breathe from teargas in their eyes and lungs, as a backdrop for his photo-op.
In 2016, militarized police attacked Indigenous water protectors at Standing Rock, and last year Black and Brown protesters were thrown in jail by the hundreds in demanding justice for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
On August 23 2020, in our community here in Portland, 30 Black Lives Matter demonstrators were arrested in the matter of just a few hours for shouting and holding signs in front of the Portland Police Bureau Northeast Precinct building. The security of the building was not breeched. The group of protestors were teargassed and violently arrested, and people living in apartments nearby were succumbed by teargas in their own homes.
The contrast between these incidents and the events of January 6, 2021 is not just stark. It’s despicable. It’s shameful. And for many, it’s far from shocking. The vast and blatant discrepancies between how the police respond to protests led by white supremacists and those led by the Black Lives Matter movement is all-too disgustingly obvious. And January 6, 2021 will go on in history as a day where this unjust discrepancy became more visible to millions of people around the world.
Last week’s devastating, deadly, and violent attack and attempted coup at the Capitol was the closest we’ve been to a coup throughout the election. It was an attempted coup rooted in white supremacy, racism, and fascism. It was an attempted coup incited by the President and numerous federal lawmakers, who must be held accountable. The day of this attack, we proudly endorsed a resolution from Rep. Cori Bush, the first Black woman to represent Missouri in the House of Representatives, to investigate and expel the GOP members of Congress who attempted to overturn the election and incited this violent attack. You can read more about her resolution here. You can also read our local Defend Democracy coalition’s statement here.
Last week’s actions were the extension of a pattern we’ve seen across the country throughout 2020, as statehouses have been threatened by paramilitaries and anti-democratic groups often aligned with white nationalist movements. Some of the far-right extremists from who traveled to D.C. included members of Oregon’s Timber Unity. To oppose the growth of white nationalism, we need to build collective community power from across civil society: elected officials, community groups, grassroots and business leaders.
These are challenging times in our democracy. We encourage everyone to do what you need to do stay in the fight for the long run, and find steady ground. In one week, President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris will be sworn into office. The situation is unfolding and moving rapidly, so we encourage you to follow our partners at Choose Democracy for more timely updates updates and ways to take action. We must remain vigilant in this next week in the fight to defend our democracy. Then, on Inauguration Day, join us in the streets for Inaugurate Justice, to kick off this new phase of struggle in the fight for justice and real, structural change.
Here’s your 350PDX weekly update.
All these actions and more can be found on our website’s Take Action page – 350pdx.org/action
Last night, nearly 500 people joined the Oregon Clean Energy Opportunity Campaign Kickoff! That’s 500 and counting who are ready to fight for climate justice across Oregon this year. The 2021 Legislative Session begins in just 6 days. Let’s get started now by contacting our state representatives and senators to be champions for climate justice by supporting the three bills in the Oregon Clean Energy Opportunity this session. You can watch last night’s kick off event here.
Are you looking for a New Year’s resolution that you can actually keep this year? How about ensuring that your money is funding the clean energy future, and not dirty fossil fuels? It’s easy to identify the worst offenders — like Chase, BlackRock and Liberty Mutual. It’s much harder to identify the companies that have banished fossil fuels from their business. That’s why we’re excited to share this new tool from STMP ally Bank for Good. This new tool from Bank for Good enables you to quickly and easily find 26 (and counting) financial institutions that have pledged never to finance, insure, underwrite or invest in the fossil fuel industry.
As a result of Governor Kate Brown’s March 2020 Executive Order to Combat Climate Change, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has just released a report (https://bit.ly/3qCrWvr) that documents why climate change is a public health crisis and immediate threat to Oregonians. The report emphasizes the disproportionate health risks to frontline workers who work outside, Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and low-income communities. Hazardous air quality from wildfires and heat-caused illness and death from rising summer temperatures are called out as the two most prominent risks to workers.
Stay tuned as labor unions and grassroots environmental and social justice organizations prepare for public hearings, collect the stories of affected workers, and make a case for strong health and safety as well as wage protection standards for workers. If you have a story to share about exposure to wildfire smoke or high heat days and how it affected you or how workers organized to protect their health and their wages (if forced to take leave due to heat or wildfire smoke), please contact PDX Climate Jobs at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Congratulations to our prize winners!For our end of year fundraiser each team had its own fundraising page, and one randomly selected donor from each page has won this 350PDX prize package – a bottle of wine, 350PDX tshirt, 350 bandana, and This Is An Uprising book. Thanks for all the donors, and the prize winners are: Johanna Shreve, Lindsey McGrath, Desta Spence, Gail Cordell, Anastasia Pyz, Kathleen Boylan, Miriam Garcia, and Rowyn Cooper-Caroselli (who wins the special Arts Team prize).
Thank you all for your donations (and if you forgot to donate before the new year, there’s still time to support our work!)
- Cascadia not on track to cut emissionsTo the rest of the world, the United States’ Pacific Northwest and Canada’s British Columbia represent one of the supposedly most eco-friendly regions in North America, if not the globe.
And yet on climate change, the biggest environmental challenge of this generation, the governments of Washington, Oregon and British Columbia not only over-promised what they would do to stem the tide. They actually underperformed compared to all the other states and provinces in the two countries, according to a new analysis by InvestigateWest.
- Listen: The Next World: A Podcast About Building MovementsPhiladelphia Housing Action used direct action to force the city of Philadelphia to relinquish over 60 vacant homes for a community land trust for housing for the homeless. Sterling Johnson and Jenn Bennetch, two organizers with Philadelphia Housing Action, join host Max Rameau to discuss their victories and setbacks in their work to take over vacant housing in Philadelphia, and explore lessons for the movement for housing.
- White Backlash: why it happens and how we fight backTODAY Wed Jan 13, 5:00PM – 6:00PM, Online
The far right mob storming the US Capitol building on January 6th caused outrage across the world, but this kind of event is part of a long history of white organized backlash to Black-led struggle and victories. As people committed to organizing white communities for racial justice, we must understand this situation in its historical context in order to be able to strategically build power to fight back. Join Showing Up for Racial Justice and leading activist scholar Robin DG Kelley to learn more about this historical trend and to join the work of fighting back.
- Reclaim MLK 2021Mon Jan 18, 1:00PM – 3:00PM, 700 N Rosa Parks Way
7th Annual March for Human Rights and Dignity: Call to Action for all Common Unity Groups to Show up in Solidarity. Share the Facbeook event and see more info here. “This event is a protest, meant to include everyone as we support and uplift the voices of Black people. We are unapologetic in our movement for Black Lives and we use this event to center the voices of our children, who are most vulnerable to the systemic violations of civil liberties. We want everyone to feel welcome to support and participate in this movement work to uplift the Black family and our entire community. Not many events center the voices of children to uplift the Black community so we reclaim Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day for this purpose. Our children deserve to be centered and celebrated by our diverse community because when we center the voices of our most marginalized then we are truly doing the work of change agents.”
- Inaugurate Justice RallyWed Jan 20, 4:00PM – 7:00PM, Irving Park
Millions of working class and marginalized people voted to throw Trump out of office, but our organizing has to continue under the next administration. While 2020 was a year of devastation, with so many people losing their jobs, their savings, and their lives, the Black Lives Matter uprisings inspired and moved millions into struggle against racism and police violence. Now we must build a mass movement to demand the changes we so desperately need, from racial, to climate, to economic justice.
The Defend Democracy Coalition is holding a rally and march on Inauguration Day 1/20 at 4 pm at Irving Park to kick off this new period of struggle. We ask that all attendees wear a mask and practice social distancing, and a car caravan is available for those with elevated risk levels for COVID-19.
- Portland Black Lives Matter Protests
Every day @ across the city – details here
Click here for our advice for showing up to protest
Thank you all for the work that you do, stay safe, we’re all in this together,
Ashley, Chris, Chuck, Dineen, Indi, Lucy – the 350PDX staff