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Fri Oct 9, 2020, 03:30 PM

Advice to Portland protesters from a '60s radical: Commentary

By David Harris, Los Angeles Times

This year’s racial justice protests have captured the attention of the entire country — and especially that of ’60s veterans like me. Perhaps none more so than the ongoing battle in Portland, where nightly clashes have continued for more than 100 consecutive days.

I am a white 74-year-old, Stage 4 cancer patient sheltering in place and prevented from protesting by the demands of my age and illness and the risks posed by the coronavirus. But I have been watching Portland from afar, and for the purposes of this missive, I have been there before.

I registered Black voters in Jim Crow Mississippi in 1964. I was elected Stanford University’s “radical” student body president in 1966 on a platform of equal rights for male and female students. I was a national leader in the student movement to stop the Vietnam War, and I helped found and organize a campaign of civil disobedience against that war’s system of military conscription. For this, I was incarcerated in the federal prison system from 1969 to 1971. All told, I devoted the first 10 years of my adulthood to the ongoing quest for social justice, at great personal risk and no small sacrifice.

That was, I admit, a long time ago, and “What have you done lately?” would be an understandable retort. But please bear with an old man. Hazy as this ancestral perspective may be to many young activists, your predecessors have some observations that may be of use to you now.

The goal of demonstrating is to reach people who otherwise would not take up the cause of racial justice. The message is most effective when it is accessible, compelling fellow citizens to rethink hidebound attitudes and prejudices. Threatening people and shouting them down will only sabotage this dynamic — as will burning buildings, wearing body armor, throwing projectiles, breaking windows and picking fights. If it is to have any chance of advancing, the quest for racial justice needs to jettison threatening tactics. Frightening people is always counterproductive, even if it is sometimes emotionally satisfying. The objective should be to convert everyone with whom you have contact, whoever they may be, police included.


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Reply Advice to Portland protesters from a '60s radical: Commentary (Original post)
Mme. Defarge Oct 2020 OP
Thekaspervote Oct 2020 #1
dixiechiken1 Oct 2020 #2

Response to Mme. Defarge (Original post)

Fri Oct 9, 2020, 04:10 PM

1. Good advice. Protesting is the first step. They need to move on to the mayor or governor's

Office or other elected officials.,find out who’s on their side and start asking for what they want, at this point they might just get it.

It shouldn’t be protests for the sake of protesting..that’s just worthless

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Response to Mme. Defarge (Original post)

Fri Oct 9, 2020, 05:02 PM

2. "Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you."

~ Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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