Protesters affiliated with Don’t Shoot Portland and Black Lives Matter took an American flag from a supporter of Ammon Bundy and set it on fire in front of the Justice Center this afternoon.
The flag burning is part a protest of what Don’t Shoot Portland describes as racial inequities in the treatment of minority protesters and the armed right-wing militants led by Ammon Bundy.
The protesters are courting a confrontation with supporters of Bundy, the Idaho militant acquitted of federal conspiracy charges for seizing the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Video by Mike Bivins
Portland Police cars have shut down a block of Southwest 3rd Avenue in front of the federal courthouse.
Maureen Valdez, 49, of Beaverton traveled downtown today to attend a barbecue held in front of the Justice Center to celebrate the Bundys’ acquittal.
Valdez brought with her 14 American flags and began erecting the flags along Southwest 3rd Avenue.
A Black Lives Matter organizer asked to borrow one of the flags. Protesters then burnt the flag.
A tearful Valdez tells WW: “I’m crushed they would destroy something that means so much to me.”
A Black Lives Matter organizer apologized to Valdez, saying he hadn’t realized the flag was hers—but made no apology for the symbolism of the act.
“The American flag stands for things we don’t support and for people who don’t support us,” says Micah Rhodes. “We have no love for that flag.”
Ironically, Valdez and Rhodes are longtime acquaintances. “I’ve known him since he was a kid,” Valdez says.
The flag burning appears related to a Don’t Shoot Portland protest at Portland State University. Organizer Gregory McKelvey said that demonstration is designed to call attention to the unequal treatment of armed white militants and unarmed minority protesters.
“We have witnessed this disparity via the Bundy trial in comparison to the treatment of peaceful protestors at the North Dakota Access Pipeline,” McKelvey wrote. “What if we would have staged an armed occupation of City Hall? We came to City Hall to testify and we were beaten for it.”
Protesters are also rallying for a write-in campaign for Don’t Shoot Portland organizer Teressa Raiford for Multnomah County Sheriff.