Throughout the entire “Hands up! Don’t Shoot!” meme that has accompanied nonviolent protests over multiple examples of how police have murdered young unarmed black people, I have sided with the protestors and published several articles supporting them. It saddens me to oppose them in my own home town.
Sen Ron Wyden’s [D-OR] staff was not prepared for what happened at his annual Multnomah County Town Hall, held at SCC Southeast on Saturday afternoon. When "Hands Up Pdx" demonstrators took over the meeting and stopped the Senator from taking questions, his staff scrambled for a way to regain control and let the town hall proceed.
In the end, the town hall was abandoned. The Senator met privately with anti-TPP activists; Rep Alissa Keny-Guyer, who was supposed to have served as moderator but was relegated to observer, noted the iron of those folks getting a more direct opportunity to share their concerns with Wyden than they would have otherwise. After most attendees had left, a number of protesters and activists gathered together in what amounted to a singing-to-the-choir (as most public demonstrations tend to be).
No one got to ask a single question of the Senator. I’m not sure anyone’s mind was opened or changed. Some were angry with the protesters; one woman was angry that Wyden didn’t respond to the “organic” nature of the moment and turn over the microphone to the protesters to let them speak. He did, actually, for far longer than I think many United States Senators might have done. Can you imagine John McCain or Mitch McConnell standing amidst “Hands Up” protesters for half-an-hour seeking a resolution to such a standoff? In the end, anger and frustration trumped civil discourse. Or at least cancelled a town hall… [emphasis added]
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Ron Wyden was already on the protestors’ side. He has repeatedly supported plans to make police accountable to the communities they serve. He did not deserve to have his Town Hall shut down. Now I appreciate that the protestors couldn’t find enemy elected officials here in Multnomah County, so they kicked a friend to get some publicity for themselves. Not only have they made it less likely that they will have access to Wyden in the future, but also, they have damaged the reputation of the entire movement. Be assured that several Democrats at that meeting used to support the protestors and no longer do.