Since last fall, we've seen the facade of legitimacy surrounding policing and the liberal establishment in Portland collapse in on itself. Since the Portland Police Association’s (PPA) November 24th march in defense of officer Christopher Humphrey's violent attack on a 12 year old girl, we've seen two police murders and numerous scandals involving off duty officers.
The most recent murders and police road rage cases do not exist as aberrations, but their visibility within the public eye marks the emergence of a new political moment, one in which normally submerged contradictions have been forced to the surface.
Between the impunity and hubris of the PPA and the failure of the liberal establishment in controlling the crisis, a political opening has emerged. As but one piece of the crisis of legitimacy emerging around both the police and liberal politics in this city, the actions of the Black Block and various anarchist tendencies in organizing street protests have stood as exceptional contributions to the exacerbation of this crisis.
BTR members have supported, help plan, or participated in every action that has been organized by predominantly by anarchist forces in response to the recent police killings. We believe that these activities have expanded the terrain of struggle we operate under.
However, we must find ways to continue to widen the opportunity for broader participation in such types of actions and more importantly, expand the possibilities they present. As long as militancy is limited to a single constituency, in this case the anarchist community, it will soon enough find itself marginalized, isolated, and eventually ruthlessly and effectively attacked by the State.
We believe that a vigorous debate of strategy and tactics between all forces in this struggle is essential at this time, but that this exchange can only be productive if it occurs in a principled manner. This discussion must include all sectors of people struggling against police oppression. This must recognize and accommodate many voices on the basis of mutual respect and solidarity, with the understanding that we will have disagreements.
We should be ever watchful of attempts to destroy the basis of this solidarity by spoilers within our own respective formations, as well the strategies the media and State will employ to exacerbate disagreements in service to a return to “business as usual”.
This chapter of Bring the Ruckus is interested in debating strategy and tactics with any and all parties engaged in this struggle, under the terms of mutual respect and solidarity. We have issued this letter in response to troubling trends developing in the response to the current circumstances.
There have been unwarranted public attacks that have been made on not only on our organization, but several other groups struggling in this arena as well. Rumors, often based on opinion, informed or otherwise are making their rounds.
We hope to promote a productive and civil dialogue between disparate forces. As principles for any discussion, we operate from the following guidelines, and will gladly engage and work alongside those willing to respect the same:
- We will not debate or engage in anonymous postings in public or private internet forums. We have seen the destructive fallout from such behaviors. We should also note that a culture that lends credence to anonymous statements and positions is ripe for exploitation by the State, or other forces to sow dissention between peoples.
- We encourage all parties to think carefully before they attack other formations and groups publicly. Rumors, innuendo, and misdirection are the currency that State and Media trade in. A few phone calls to confirm the validity of what one reads or hears in the media is a critical function. If one lacks direct connections to organizations or individuals, endeavor to build lines of communication, either through reliable third parties or directly. Accordingly, we will not publicly air disagreements or grievances which we have not first brought to the concerned parties privately first.
- We will not engage with those who spread rumors or practice in sectarianism. We will gladly participate in conversation with anyone who wishes to bring criticism or debate in a principled and accountable manner.
We are excited about the possibilities that are opening before us for a qualitative change in the power arrangements of our community. We hope to generalize the struggle against police violence and start imaging a world without cops. No single tendency can embody the dreams of the masses, and would be foolish to try to do so. Find our friends, fight our foes, the future must be ours.
Portland Bring The Ruckus