In the summer of 2022, it seemed that the days of an oil-by-rail facility in Portland, Oregon, were numbered. The previous year, the city had rejected a land use permit for a company called Zenith Energy, which receives crude oil shipped by rail from as far away as North Dakota. Zenith had appealed the decision, but had already suffered a string of defeats in the state. Climate activists and community associations, who were concerned about the risks associated with oil-by-rail shipments, counted the city’s rejection of the permit as a major victory, and were tantalizingly close to prevailing over the company.
Portland Airport (PDX) wheelchair attendants, baggage and service workers, cabin cleaners and janitors held a militant picket and sit-down protest June 28 on the United Airlines departures roadway. PDX maintenance workers are fighting for the right to sit down between tasks on the job. They are demanding respect, the right to a union at United, health insurance and more. A Passenger Service Agent told demonstrators: “Our jobs involve hard physical repetitive labor that puts us at risk of workplace injuries. We are also at risk of contagious diseases. Our public health care is insufficient, and workers comp is so complicated, we need a lawyer to use it.”
Portland, Oregon - Dozens of Portland postal union members, union and community leaders rallied Feb. 20 in support of postal workers, demanding “good service, good jobs and a good contract.” Drivers passing by honked and showed support. “Our U.S. Postal Service is under attack,” read one of the rally leaflets. Signs and chants called for dumping Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who is trying to privatize the Postal Service. Speakers told how cuts to the Postal Service are creating mail delays and understaffing and forcing postal workers to work excessive overtime.
Portland, Oregon - A strike among Portland city workers ended after they reached a tentative agreement with the city Saturday. The agreement came after 12 hours of mediation between the city and workers represented by Laborers Local 483. It remains tentative until the Portland City Council approves it. More than 600 Portland workers went on strike early Thursday after nearly a year of negotiations broke down over wages. They had been without a contract since June. Local 483 includes people responsible for fixing sewage leaks, cleaning trash at city parks, and clearing streets of ice and snow, among other tasks. “I think there’s a lot of work yet to be done, but this is a great foundation to build upon for our membership and really for working standards in the whole Portland community,” said Local 483 field representative James O’Laughlen.
Portland, Oregon - This year’s climate conference, COP 27, focused a lot on loss and damage compensation. The question of who should foot the bill for our current climate crisis has highlighted a growing conversation around planetary boundaries and collective responsibility. The disparate impacts of historical emissions on Global South communities show us that pushing waste, emissions, and externalities out of sight isn’t only unjust, it’s unsustainable. And while these problems continue to unfold on a global scale, each country, city, and locality’s role in perpetuating them — or helping to craft solutions — has been brought to center stage. Portland’s Emerging Circular Economy Sustainable waste reduction requires a transition from a linear economy — one where goods get used for a short period and then wind up in a landfill — to a circular one that prioritizes sharing, repairing, reuse, and creative upcycling.
Portland, Oregon - A new study by a pair of researchers tried to find the root cause of homelessness in cities across the U.S. It revealed how Portland's housing market plays a much bigger part in the crisis than many might think. The urban study called “Homelessness is a Housing Problem” found that the biggest factors in the homeless crisis are not necessarily addiction or mental health but rather a combination of high rent prices and a lack of affordable housing. “Any given night in Multnomah County, five per 1,000 people are experiencing homelessness, which is quite a high number,” said Clayton Aldern, one of the researchers behind the study. The data dates back to 2019 and looks at the 30 largest urban areas in the country.
This essay was written collaboratively by two Portland protest community members, Susan Anglada Bartley and Lexy Kahn, and is the result of conversations after participating in protests, both as frontline protestors and as writers and journalists. Throughout the article, we switch italicized and non-italicized fonts (Lexy in italics, Susan not) when we swap voices, offering two perspectives. We hope the processing we offer can be a catalyst for our comrades in Portland and worldwide who do the work of sorting out how to heal and walk forward. Throughout the writing of this article, we were both working forty hours-per-week, parenting, and doing our own healing, while also continuing our organizing work.
On Thursday, February 17th, park rangers and Portland police showed up to the PDX Houseless Radicals Collective’s Fallout Camp on Park’s land in southeast Portland, Oregon. Their intended eviction of the camp was prevented by the presence of several comrades who were there in support. They promised to return in force the following Tuesday. Organizing for a sweep defense started ramping up that weekend. A community potluck was called for that Sunday at Fallout Camp, where a meeting was held discussing strategy. A public-facing campaign combined with a civil disobedience-style sweep defense was the chosen strategy. A phone zap flyer and a petition began to circulate online, and support was gathered through social media and word-of-mouth.
The killing and shooting of protestors in Portland, Oregon, demanding justice for Amir Locke and Patrick Kimmons, Black men murdered by police, is an outrage that must be condemned. The murder of June Knightly and the shooting of four other women supporting the protest is a byproduct of the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, through which the capitalist state gave a green light to further right-wing vigilantism. The killer, Ben Smith, a known fascist sympathizer, was only named by the Portland Police Bureau after being identified by community members and activists on social media. Our greatest enemy is still the state and its violent agents, the police, who seek to use every opportunity to attack us or let us be attacked by right-wing vigilantes.
Portland, Oregon - The first six months of the Portland Street Response pilot project is meeting its lofty expectations, according to a Portland State University (PSU) study released Tuesday. "Based on the findings... we feel very optimistic about the future of Portland Street Response and believe it is well on its way to becoming a citywide solution to responding to 911 and non-emergency calls involving unhoused people and people experiencing mental health crisis," reads the report, conducted by PSU's Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative. The Portland Street Response (PSR) is an unarmed first responder team comprised of a mental health clinician, firefighter paramedic, and two community health workers who are dispatched to 911 calls regarding mental health crises or issues regarding unhoused people.
At 5:45 a.m. Friday, May 21, painters started assembling outside under-reconstruction Madison High School in Northeast Portland, and picked up picket signs instead of paint sprayers. For the first time in over 40 years, members of Painters Local 10 were on strike. On the picket line were the 21 members scheduled to work there that day plus others who came to back them up. Painters District Council 5 field rep Scott Oldham says at first there was fear, not knowing what to expect. But when other union trades started to arrive in twos and threes, the mood shifted. “People from each crew would walk forward and say, ‘Hey, we’re with Local 16, and we respect what you’re doing. We absolutely will not be crossing the line today,” Oldham says. “Next time it could be me,” some workers said.
For two decades, the Portland Police Bureau has armed its officers with AR-15 semi-automatic rifles, the result of a tough-on-crime policy that equipped officers with firearms most people associate more with mass shootings than community policing. In response to a records request from WW, the bureau revealed last week that it owns 238 Colt AR-15 rifles. Today, 168 Portland police officers—about 20% of the force—are trained to operate the semi-automatic weapon, which allows for greater accuracy and the ability to shoot with precision from upward of 100 yards, or about a city block away. That means AR-15 rifle operators outnumber the 146 Portland officers who are certified to respond to mental health crises through the Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team—established following the city’s settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Portland, OR - I know it is often hard to see, but significant elements of the folks in power at various levels of government are keenly aware that we're in a crisis, and they want to avoid a total meltdown of the social order. They often like to act blasé and in control of the situation, they like to pretend that we all believe we live in a society governed by law, where we all play by certain rules that are more or less sacred. But really they know they rule over a house of cards that sits on top of a powder keg, and there's a fire burning nearby, which they need to keep from reaching the powder keg, and any notions of the rule of law are relatively worthless when millions of people are suddenly unable to house themselves or put food on the table.
Portland, Oregon has been in the headlines again over the last few days, and this trend will continue. The reasons for the headlines will vary depending on who you ask. If you ask the far right they will say something about Antifa terrorists having violent confrontations with the police because they hate law and order. The mainstream media’s headlines will also tend to lead with the so-called violent clashes, but then they may inform us that the reasons for the confrontation have to do with folks trying to prevent the eviction of a Black and indigenous family that has lived in the Red House at 4406 North Mississippi for multiple generations.
On Tuesday morning, Portland community members successfully repealed heavily armed and militarized Multnomah County Sheriffs backed by Portland police officers, who were attempting to evict the Afro-Indigenous Kinney family, who has lived in the “Red House on Mississippi” in the North Portland neighborhood for 65 years. The eviction began in the early morning, after officers officers “violently dismantled the 75+ day “Red House” [support] encampment,” and then “entered the home itself, destroying its interior, and violently arrested two residents – injuring at least one.”