The uprising that occurred after George Floyd, a Black Minneapolis resident, was killed in May by Derek Chauvin, a White Minneapolis police officer, touched every U.S. state and numerous cities worldwide. Demonstrators who took to the streets in support of Black lives were more often than not met with first-hand experiences of the police brutality they were protesting. And while many cities saw ongoing demonstrations throughout the summer, protesters in Portland, Oregon, sustained more than 100 days of continuous demonstrations, pausing only when wildfires statewide created toxic air conditions in the city.
Sustaining a movement at such scale and duration requires substantial infrastructure, which in Portland emerged from autonomous organizing, deep networks of mutual aid, and a collective commitment to redefining and prioritizing community safety. As Portland’s protests evolved, YES! sought to document this infrastructure, and the challenges of organizing the nation’s Whitest big city around demands for justice being led by Black people. YES! solutions reporter Isabella Garcia, a resident of Portland, spent months on the ground with protesters, organizers, and community members to understand how the movement emerged and sustained itself, how local and federal law enforcement responded, and what Portlanders hope to accomplish going forward.