Of course black lives matter. So why can’t we say it?

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Here’s what’s up.

What we’re talking about

BDN Portland blogger Rob Korobkin weighs in on the idea behind the protest that shut down part of Commercial Street on Friday night, and led to 18 arrests. (More on that below.)

He writes:

Black.

Lives.

Matter.

There… See, it really isn’t all that hard?

I understand that it’s frustrating when activists shut down major thoroughfares. It’s annoying. It disrupts lots of people’s lives. It’d drive me up the wall too if I was trying to get home, and there was a crowd of people blocking the road, especially if I disagreed with them and their cause.

I get that.

It also makes perfect sense to me that if you grew up admiring police officers, and you saw a bunch of people campaigning to “abolish” prisons and “radically transform” law enforcement, they might sound kind of crazy.

Fine.

But this post is not about tactics. It’s not about policy proposals. This post is simply about those three words: Black Lives Matter.

It seems simple enough.

There are around 36 million African and African-American people living in the United States right now. Some of them are CEOs – one’s even the President – but on average, people in this group are more likely to attend lower quality schools, make less money at their jobs, and, yes, receive much harsher treatment from the criminal justice system.

This isn’t an opinion. It’s a rigorously documented, indisputable fact.

That said, there are different theories about what causes this phenomenon.

Maybe Black people are worse off because they do more drugs?  They don’t.

Maybe Black people are just less educated?  Nope, that doesn’t explain it.

No matter how you slice it, even 48 years after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, it’s undeniable that skin color still has a clear, demonstrable impact on how the average person is treated by authorities.

All anybody is asking you to do, for now at least, is say, oh, those people? Obviously, they have inherent worth as human beings.  Of course Black lives matter!

Then stop.

Stand back.

Listen to what people have to say for themselves.

Like Mercedes Faucher, who was working with the ACLU as a nonpartisan legal observer at the protest Friday night on Commercial Street.  She says that the Portland Police Department violently stormed in to shut down the action, even going so far as to aggressively push around the legal observers like her who were simply documenting the event.

Or Mariana Angelo, who says that Portland Black Lives Matter has two primary demands right now: for all of Portland’s police officers to wear body cams and for our city’s leaders to say publicly that there is a profoundly racist human rights crisis in our nation’s criminal justice system right now.

You don’t necessarily have to agree with these people.  You don’t even have to believe them.  But you have to admit that their lives matter.

Shockingly, that seems to be more than a lot of white people can do.

Read his full post here.

ICYMI

Here’s the background for what he’s talking about — The protest led to the arrests of 18 people — 17 adults, one minor — for “obstructing a public way.” The protesters had blocked off the intersection at Commercial and Pearl streets.  Jake Bleiberg was there at the time of the arrests, and captured some of it on video.

And here are some more photographs of what happened — Dan D’Ippolito shot the protest for The Forecaster and got some revealing photographs of the arrests and what led up to them.

Drivers give bicyclists safety advice — Shoshana Hoose of the Press Herald shares the results of an unofficial poll she took of Maine drivers. Forty responded. Here’s the gist: “‘It seems like some bicyclists have taken on the attitude that they have more rights to the road than those in cars,’ Leslie Ohmart III of Brewer wrote. ‘They ride on sidewalks, ignore stop signs, run red lights, cross lanes with little or no signal and generally act like traffic laws do not apply to them.’

“Another major concern expressed in the survey was that cyclists antagonize drivers by taking over the whole roadway, forcing motorists to wait patiently in order to pass. Such behavior contributes to the image of cyclists as ‘arrogant pricks,’ says Brian Edwards of Raymond.

This comes after a bicyclist and a driver crashed on State Street over the weekend.

The clock is ticking — You have less than a week to cast your vote in our contest to design a better Portland flag. Readers and judges have narrowed down 84 designs to the top three. Which is your favorite?

Big ideas

Kids today! Am I right?! — Actually, older people have been complaining about kids for at least 700 years. From WaPo’s Ana Swanson:

In fact, this even has a specific term: ‘juvenoia.’

“In a 2011 paper, sociologist David Finkelhor coined the word to describe ‘an exaggerated fear about the influence of social change on children and youth.’

“He offers a few possible explanations for why this fear arises: It may be evolutionary impulses, and our desire to protect children from environments that we don’t understand and could potentially be dangerous. It could be partially because of generational conflict that comes from parents and children having different experiences and competing interests. And it could stem from parental nostalgia, the tendency to view one’s own past more fondly or positively than it perhaps deserves to be.

“Finkelhor has primarily used the term to talk about fears that the Internet is making life more dangerous for children, but he also mentions that this tendency to rail about “children these days” is a much older preoccupation. In his paper, Finkelhor cites a quote attributed to Peter the Hermit from 1274, but which could really come from any era: ‘The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything.’”

Daring Donald Trump to be president — With the Republican National Convention kicking off today in Cleveland, Ohio, Buzzfeed reporter McKay Coppins looks at what drives the presumptive GOP nominee, and contemplates the possibility that he goaded The Donald into his run for presidency:

“‘First of all, BuzzFeed?’ Trump said, waving an index finger in the air. ‘They were the ones that said under no circumstances will I run for president — and were they wrong.’ My phone lit up with a frenzied flurry of tweets, texts, and emails, each one carrying variations of the same message: This is all your fault.”

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@bangordailynews.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.

As always, like BDN Portland on Facebook for more local coverage.

Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the editor of BDN Portland. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.