In an interview with KATU 2 on Sunday, Reverend E.D. Mondaine, president of the NAACP chapter in Portland said, “We’re here and we’re not going anywhere. Fire’s not going to smoke us out. Flames are not going to smoke us out. COVID is not going to snuff us out. The time for equality and justice is upon us.”
Portland has been in the national spotlight since protests began in May in response to the killing of George Floyd while in police custody. Nightly demonstrations have been unceasing, with the city recently passing its 100th consecutive night of protests.
The protests have often devolved into violence, with molotov cocktails and other objects being hurled at police officers, property being vandalized, and the recent shooting and killing of a counter protestor. President Trump sent federal officials to guard the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse and other federal buildings earlier this summer.
It took wildfires to quell the violence. Demonstrations were interrupted last week by poor air quality caused by smoke from the wildfires that have burned nearly 1 million Oregon acres.
Protestors resumed their activities over the weekend.
On Friday, 11 people were arrested after protestors began throwing objects at officers during a protest outside Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security offices.
On Saturday, demonstrations began with a peaceful vigil held in honor of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A group of about 200 protestors marched throughout downtown Portland late into the night. Windows were smashed and graffiti left on buildings like Starbucks, Chipotle, and a U.S. Bank branch.
No arrests were made, but the vandalism is under investigation.
Reverend Mondaine appeared on KATU 2 on Sunday to discuss the weekend’s demonstrations, in which he declared that fire, flames, and COVID wouldn’t hinder their protest efforts.
Mondaine is looking for quick legislative change and is willing to protest for as long as it takes to get that change.
“We’re going to have to do some extraordinarily unapologetic and deliberate actions on the part of government to root out systemic racism,” Mondaine said.
Mondaine spoke of racial disparities in education, health and welfare, and the Department of Justice, and said that the “cries in the streets need to become the cries in the boardrooms”, in classrooms and places of education, in halls of justice and state capitols and city halls before we see the end of protests.
“I mean, protests can take up to two years,” he said when asked how he imagines making rapid changes. “I hope it doesn’t take us that long, but if that’s what it takes then that’s what it’ll be. It’s not going to stop.”