The Kids Are All Right
The scene at Irving Park in northeast Portland at 6 p.m. on Halloween looks pretty much like any other Saturday night in the park: Kids shoot hoops on the north end, people play tennis on the south, dogs run in the center. Tonight there’s also a Day of the Dead celebration, with singing and lighting candles and little kids in costumes spinning and eating cake.
Watching from the adjoining hillside are about 60 people in costumes of their own, the all-black clothing, face masks, and helmets of black bloc, here for tonight’s “Capitalism is Spooky” rally. That every other rally and march I’ve been to has appeared livelier and better-attended than this one may be due to participation burnout; Portland is on Night 158 of continual protests, with a few days taken off during the wildfires in September. Where there’s previously been pep and sloganeering, tonight there are hillside sitters looking bored with the Day of the Dead crew, with the toddlers dancing with their moms, maybe even with other people taking over a public space when, for the past four months, those have been their domain—parks and streets and Mayor Ted Wheeler’s apartment complex—their places to make a stand, and wasn’t it time for these others to clear out? So they could get on with their important work?
Tonight’s important work, per the online flyer, includes “No Cameras. No Peace Police. Total Abolition.” But by 6:30, there are no tricks or treats, no music, and, with the exception of some guy wearing a paper mask of Andy Ngo on the back of his head, no costumes. By all lights, it is a no-fun zone.
Would there at least maybe be a speaker, maybe mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone, who just the day before had been endorsed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and who, as of late, has been trolling people with her communist-leaning enthusiasms? I mean, who better to talk up the evils of capitalism? And did the chubby black bloc guy drinking a Bud next to me think she’d show up?
Bud doesn’t seem particularly interested in the question, though he does offer, “Anybody is better than Ted Wheeler, who needed to pick a lane and stick to it.” He also thinks there’s a pretty good showing tonight, “Maybe 75 people.”
“Most of these people are kids,” Bud says, looking at a few people in black bloc setting out the usual water and first aid. With the exception of one guy carrying a big red flag without insignia, there’s no color and no zip and the whole thing feels like a love affair gone flaccid. Though if we’re following script, the fireworks will start later, or the fires will. Does Bud guy think there will be marching tonight?
“Of course,” he says, though he doesn’t know where they’ll go; maybe the police station up in north Portland. What he does know is that there will be no filming, no livestreaming; that that’s been an edict since the Day of Rage on October 11, “when
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