It wasn’t too long ago that the news was filled with reports of violent protests in Portland, Ore.; Seattle; Washington, D.C., and other cities around the nation. And then ... silence. Networks and newspapers are going wall-to-wall with analyses of every syllable uttered by President Donald Trump’s doctors as he is treated for COVID-19. Of course, that’s news, but in the meantime, other news — like a continuing plague of violence in those cities and elsewhere — has virtually disappeared from the coverage.
But it’s still there. A look at the Portland police Twitter page from the last few nights shows yet another march and confrontation with police. (Nobody bothers to keep count of the number of consecutive nights there has been violence.) “The march has arrived at the new courthouse at 1200 SW 1st Ave.,” police tweeted between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. local time Sunday, Oct. 4. “Some participants have begun vandalizing the building. Do not do this. You are subject to arrest. To the van supporting the march: it is unsafe and illegal to drive the wrong way on a 1-way.” As the marchers continued, police warned, “Vandalism to the courthouse will not be tolerated. If you commit vandalism you are subject to arrest or use of force.”
Remember when Democratic leaders and their allies in the media blamed it all on Trump? With the president nursing his illness 2,800 miles away, and with Democrats and media talkers consumed by other stories, the protests have continued. In Portland, the most recent targeted a brand-new $324 million courthouse, just opening this week. Six people were arrested.
Even more serious was an attack on a police officer. One recent morning, a Portland officer was doing paperwork in his car when a rioter smashed the car window and filled the car with pepper spray. The officer managed to radio a description of his attacker, who was later arrested in a car that police had been following earlier. “Inside the vehicle, officers found window punch tools, pepper spray, throwing knives, a laser pointer, a slingshot, rocks, and more,” police noted. It was a rioter’s toolkit.
Police reported that the suspect was a 41-year-old Portland man named John B. Russell. He was charged with assaulting a public safety officer, aggravated harassment and criminal mischief in the first degree. Like almost every other suspect accused of violence and rioting in Portland, Russell was quickly released.
There has also been trouble in Seattle and Washington, D.C., in the last few days. You just probably haven’t heard about it.
It seems needless to say that none of this has anything to do with Black lives or any protest against real or alleged police brutality. Much of the agitation is clearly the work of the violent extremist movement antifa. Remember that at the presidential debate, Democratic candidate Joe Biden declared, “Antifa is an idea, not an organization.” President Trump responded, “Oh, you gotta be kidding ... When a bat hits you over the head, it’s not an idea. ... Antifa is a dangerous radical group.” Biden’s response was to mock the president by saying, “You have no ideas.”
But in Portland, if antifa is an idea, it’s an idea armed with window punch tools, pepper spray, throwing knives, a laser pointer, a slingshot, rocks and more. Biden defended his statement by saying that FBI Director Christopher Wray had called antifa an “idea.” “That is what (the) FBI director said,” Biden claimed.
But Wray, in House testimony on Sept. 17, said: “We look at antifa as more of an ideology or a movement than an organization. To be clear, we do have quite a number of properly predicated domestic terrorism investigations into violent anarchists, extremists, any number of whom self-identify with the antifa movement.” On multiple other occasions, Wray referred to the “antifa movement.” He also noted that antifa is “coalescing” into an actual group in some areas.
So perhaps Biden should call antifa a violent movement. But put semantics aside. Maybe if the violence were covered more in the media, Biden would be forced to actually confront it. But for now, remember that violence and unrest are indeed still going on — even if they don’t make the news.
York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner.