An Open Letter to Those Outside Portland

July 23, 2020

Hello friends and family,

You may be wondering if things in Portland are as bad as you have heard on the news. Well, yes and no. If you aren’t downtown, things are business as usual for the pandemic, with a little added tension and some weird planes and helicopters going overhead. (More on that later.)

If you are downtown at night, it is worse than you think. Protests for Black lives and against police brutality have been taking place in front of the county courthouse (and federal courthouse next door) for over 50 days. On July 3, Trump sent the feds (Department of Homeland Security) to Portland in order to “quell” the protests.

It’s not just young punks that are out protesting. There’s the Wall of Moms, who link arms and sing lullabies, and Dad Pod, who bring leaf blowers to deflect tear gas. Local elected officials are joining in.

The feds are extremely violent. They beat a Navy veteran who did nothing worse than stand too close to them and ask them why they were breaking their oath to the United States. One of the moms says she was sexually assaulted during arrest. Two protesters (that we know of) have received significant head injuries, at least one of which appears to be from the feds deliberate targeting his head. The feds have also been destroying street medics first aid supplies including hand sanitizer and PPE, which is just great during a pandemic.

There have been unusual planes flying overhead. For many days they stuck over the protests, but last night they began circling Portland widely. I saw them go past my house over and over. At least one of them is believed to be using Stingray technology. Stingrays mimic cell phone towers and suck up identifying information about you and those around you. I’m worried that they might be surveilling the entire city regardless of who is doing what.

There are mysterious unmarked cars grabbing people at night. A group of DHS officers in camouflage snatched a person, pulled his beanie over his head, and took him to a federal building. I have seen the “murder vans,” as we’re calling them. They don’t even have license plates.

Last night our mayor got tear gassed by the feds. A lot of us don’t like the mayor, myself included, but I’m glad he’s finally getting a taste of his own medicine. The Portland Police Bureau has been using tear gas on protesters for years and the mayor is police commissioner. Tear gas was recently banned in Oregon, unless it’s a riot, but the police call any kind of property damage a riot (including an officer slapping a phone out of a protestor’s hand so hard that it broke their own window). 

Additionally, the Portland Police Association (the local police union) seems to be going rogue. The mayor was never asked to meet with DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, and PPB never officially met with him, but the PPA certainly did and welcomed him! Our city council has barred the PPB from working with the feds, but we suspect they still are. One of my friends was pushed to the ground for filming Portland Police in his neighborhood. They told him that he’d better not be collecting intelligence for “insurgents.” This isn’t a war and protesters aren’t enemy combatants.

The feds will soon be heading to other cities including ChicagoDetroit, New York, Baltimore, Oakland, Philadelphia, and (strangely) Albuquerque.  I want everyone to know what to expect. I love you all and will keep myself safe.


Lauren Hudgins

Protests for July 26


During the day, the Push for Peace rally was held and occurred without incident. A couple hundred protestors “marched” on wheels (including bicycles, skateboards, and roller skates) from Laurelhurst Park to Burnside Skate Park, where they listened to black teen community leaders speak about police brutality and call for police abolition.

In the evening, at its height about 1000 protestors were gathered downtown in front of the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse and the Justice Center. This event saw attendance from the Wall of Moms, the Dad Pod, and the Wall of Vets, who have all been regular attendees of the nightly demonstrations downtown recently.

Just after midnight, the crowd saw their first round of tear gas from federal officers, which continued for hours throughout the night. At 12:15 AM, Federal Protective Services declared the gathering an unlawful assembly and the use of tear gas continued without warning before each new wave against the crowd. Federal officers were also seen using high powered lasers from a higher vantage point somewhere on the courthouse to mark protestors that were throwing tear gas canisters back over the fence surrounding the courthouse.

The Witches, a group that has been providing mutual aid to protestors and running a medical supply tent in one of the parks across from the federal courthouse and Justice Center, were forced out of the area by the high volumes of tear gas deployed by federal officers. According to other witnesses in the area and one of the volunteers working with The Witches, the medical supplies in the tent were intentionally destroyed after their departure. This action was said to have been done by federal officers.

There were also reports of a shooting that occurred around 7:30 PM at Lownsdale Park before the demonstration began for the night. Two individuals were arrested in connection with the incident, both of whom have since been released from police custody. It is unclear if this event had anything to do with the ongoing protests in the area.

Scheduled Events


A march on wheels was held midday starting at 1 PM at Laurelhurst Park.

In the evening, the demonstration downtown in front of the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse and Justice Center occurred as it has nearly every night for the last two months.

Just after midnight the Federal Protective Services announced over their loudspeaker that protestors had to disperse or risk use of force.

At about 12:15 AM, the Federal Protective Services declared the gathering an unlawful assembly.

At about 1:15 AM, federal officers exited the courthouse and the surrounding fenced area to stand in front of the fence facing protestors.

[Content Warning (below): intense/frightening scene of police violence] In the clip, two arrests were made by federal officers.

Note: It is difficult to distinguish between some federal officers and Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers because they both wear dark uniforms. There had been no indication that PPB officers were on the scene.

From here there was no more coverage of the demonstration, as journalists likely went home in the early morning hours.

The Witches (who have been running a medical aid tent every night in one of the parks in the area of the protests) had their supplies destroyed, allegedly by federal officers.




AP News

On Portland’s streets: Anger, fear, and a fence that divides

CBS News

Portland protests again culminate in use of tear gas by federal agents


Why Portland? The city’s history of protest takes an exceptional turn

The Guardian

Anti-fascists linked to zero murders in the US in 25 years

Clashes in Portland as Trump’s actions light fuse under protests in other cities

‘These are his people’: inside the elite border patrol unit Trump sent to Portland


Portland protests continue for 60th night


PPB: 2 arrested, released after 1 shot near Lownsdale Square

Los Angeles Times

Column: They’re fed up with the ‘tyranny’ of face masks. But Portland? That’s about ‘law and order’

Protests reignite across U.S. as standoffs in Portland continue between protesters and federal agents

The New York Times

Cities in Bind as Turmoil Spreads Far Beyond Portland

Who Gets to Be a ‘Naked Athena’?


Tear Gas Fired On Protesters Again During Overnight Protests In Portland


More federal officers deploying to Portland as protests gain momentum

The Oregonian

Inside the Portland protest zone: ‘I don’t think there’s an end in sight’

Police say 2 arrested, 1 injured in gunfire near downtown Portland protest site

Willamette Week

Portland’s “Naked Athena” Speaks for the First Time to a Local Podcast

Portland Settles With Downtown Resident Whose Apartment Filled With Tear Gas


Agencies Present

  • U.S. Marshals
  • Department of Homeland Security – Federal Protective Services


  • tear gas
  • pepper balls
  • lasers
  • flash bangs
  • rubber bullets




Assault of a federal officer, violating a no-fly zone with a drone