Roundup 3/12/2021

Return of the Portland Fedwars, Shield Wall Critique

Photo of the courthouse I took during my undercover antifa trip last August chronicled in Reason.

Portland Part Duex

My first instinct starting this piece was to state Portland is heating up again, but that would imply the civil disruption actually stopped in the first place. The reality is although Portland’s civil unrest culture (because that’s pretty much what it is at this point) dialed back the intensity over the winter, it never really stopped. Sure it dropped off of page 1 so to speak, but it wasn’t uncommon to see them harrassing say, the ICE facility several times a week.

Any way, the Fed wars are back. Mike Fence (the name PDX anarchists gave to the long-suffering concrete-reinforced steel grated obstacle protecting the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse in downtown Portland) finally came down Thursday afternoon after the plywood was removed, and by Thursday night the windows were smashed and the building was on fire. ICE SRT from San Francisco (initially identified as BORTAC) came out to play, flashbangs, teargas, and pepper balls got deployed, antifa got chased around downtown, it was basically July all over again.

The attack on the courthouse was preceded by vandalism and aggression directed at local Chase banks, one security guard event felt the need to draw his weapon for protection:

The hashtag #StopLine3 refers to the Line 3 pipeline project in Minnesota, which is partly funded by Chase bank. This action is part of a growing national campaign targeting the pipeline project, and it’s quite possible this contentious project becomes the next Keystone XL. Some background here.

There were some attempts to dismiss Andy Ngo’s description of the incident as a misrepresentation, but the notoriously radical PNW YLF group seemed to have no issue with this interpretation. I managed to screenshot the cached version right after deleted, the archived link in the below tweet is here.

Here’s a far lefty expanding a bit on what happened Thursday, it’s a slanted account but it reinforces some things we’ve talked about here before. Notice the demand for “housing justice” and the wrap up tweet calling for donations to a jail support mutual aid group.

it’s now Friday night and PDX seems to be spinning up again, this just came across my feed:

Around 150 black bloc assembled in a local park in NW Portland before marching through the streets and smashing windows and engaging in general mayhem, they ended up getting kettled on Marshall street between 13th and 14th avenues.

FWIW, lefties really, really hate being kettled, I suspect a little mockery from the cops here would be incredibly humiliating and demoralizing.

The thing to keep in mind about the PNW is there really aren’t a whole lot of black people there, so the BLM push was always an awkward fit and more of an excuse they grafted onto their other pre-existing grievances to get into the spirit of moment.

The big motivations going up there have mostly been ecological topics (i.e. line3 actions) housing (i.e. expropriating housing because communism) and indigenous-related “decolonization” (giving land back to ostensible natives).

My suspicion is the weekends will start getting sporty again, I don’t think we’ll quite see a return to the intensity of last summer under current conditions though.

Oh just in case you thought Biden meant change and this was ending soon, look closer:

Shield Walls: Tactic or Identity?

In previous newsletters I’ve covered the tactical shift from black bloc skirmisher to shield walls, and also weighed the pros and cons of the different approaches. One thing I warned about in our Unmasking Antifa monograph for Center for Security Policy was the lefty tendency (a human trait really, but especially pronounced for them) to embrace a signature tactic so thoroughly that it overrides consideration for local objectives and conditions, and the shield wall could be approaching that status for some.

This short twitter thread is a fairly good critique of the tactic and its weaknesses, I’m not as negative as they are about it (I saw it used to great effect in Portland) but they have some valid points and it’s worth a read, especially if you’re a cop and may find yourself figuring out how to counter this.

As you can imagine, giving up maneuverability for mass comes at a price. That price may likely be too steep when the police are usually (but not always) able to bring more coordinated mass with better equipment, especially when they have ample warning.

A counterpoint to this the Grant Park assault in Chicago last year, where a combined-arms leftist force put 50 police in the hospital and seized control of the park before attempting to tear down a Columbus statue; I’ll do a detailed breakdown of that one for Tuesday’s newsletter.

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