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When half a dozen people are shot all at once, it doesn’t normally take days to find out what happened and who was responsible. But a wall of police silence surrounds the act of fanatical political terrorism committed by a rightwing extremist in Portland, Oregon, on Saturday, February 19, 2022.
For days, the Portland news media reported almost nothing, because they didn’t know anything. When information did get out to the public, it was because of witnesses talking to media or posting online, not the police.
The game the police played was “it’s a chaotic scene and a complicated investigation” and “witnesses left the scene.” But they knew exactly what happened and who was responsible. And they didn’t have to look for him; he’s in a hospital with a gunshot wound. They had already arrested, then released, the security guard who shot him.
The police also tried to bury the story by mixing and blending it with comments about several other shootings in the Portland area on the same weekend. They released many more details about those other shootings.
Here’s what I’ve learned about what happened (and it took a lot of searching).
A BLM group regularly gathered at a Portland park to protest against police violence; on this occasion they were planning a march to protest the February 2, 2022, killing of Amir Locke, a black man, in his apartment by Minneapolis police (details of that incident here).
A very angry man, radicalized by rightwing grievance propaganda, named Benjamin Jeffrey Smith, age 43, lived in an apartment complex across the street from the park.
His brother told a Portland newspaper that Smith often complained about the demonstrations at the park. His roommate described him as “just a sad angry dude” who “talked about wanting to go shoot commies and antifa all the friggin‘ time. … He talked about wanting to do this for a while. He was angry at the mask mandates, he was angry at the damned liberals.” (See story here.) He hated homeless people, too. And he frequently expressed his hatreds and grievances on social media.
He cheered for Kenosha vigilante killer Kyle Rittenhouse, and ranted against “Jews” (see article here). According to comments on the HorsesAss.org blog, he hung out with Proud Boys, a violent rightwing group, and participated in acts of vandalism.
At around 8 p.m. on Saturday, Smith went to the park and yelled at four women directing traffic to leave, then pulled out a .45 caliber handgun and shot at them at point-blank range, shooting one in the head and killing her, and wounding the other three. He was then shot in the abdomen by a security guard with a rifle.
Police characterized the slaughter as “a confrontation between an armed homeowner and armed protesters.” It wasn’t that at all.
That so-called “confrontation” consisted of a gunman opening fire on a crowd without warning. Nothing provoked it. All of the victims were unarmed. The only “armed protester” was the security guard who reacted in self-defense.
When the police chief tried to peddle b.s. at a news conference the next day, he was shouted down by activists unwilling to let him get away with lying.
There’s no longer any mystery about what happened in Portland last Saturday night. A rightwing lunatic, whose out-of-control anger, propensity for violence, and possession of guns was well-known to those around him, approached the peaceful and lawfully assembled BLM group with the premeditated intention of committing politically-motivated murder and mayhem.
The police refuse to even call it a crime. They won’t acknowledge the political motive, or the innocence of the victims. They don’t want you to know that a rightwing thug mercilessly gunned down a group of unarmed and defenseless women who were directing traffic.
My wife just said, “The Portland police suck.” I can’t disagree with her.
This content was originally published here.