Andrea and I continue to be well. The U.S. covid infection rate is about 1.5%, but we don’t know anyone who has tested positive to it. But then, we live in Oregon, where the infection rate is only a third of the national average. We continue to take precautions and hope you all are as well.
A Mississippi school opened last week. (In July?) At the end of the first week they sent out a notice advising anyone who came into contact with one of the students to quarantine for 14 days. Infections in Mississippi have increased 16% in the last 7 days. It is increasing faster only in Idaho and Oklahoma. Mississippi currently has an infection rate over 2%. (New York, New Jersey, Florida, Arizona, and Louisiana also have rates over 2%.)
More than 1 in 10 workers are unemployed, although that number doesn’t include so-called gig workers — Uber drivers and free-lancers and contract employees. The string of retailers announcing bankruptcy continues, this morning it was Lord & Taylor, Mens Wearhouse, and JoS. A. Bank.
The president played golf this weekend — his 283rd golf trip. A little quick arithmetic shows that is more than one golf trip every five days. I’m glad things are going so well that he can take that much time off.
Over the weekend, we had a Zoom call with some of Andrea’s cousins in Iowa, Colorado, and Washington. They asked how Portland was doing.
Oregon’s governor negotiated an agreement with the federal government. Oregon will police the perimeter of the federal building that has been the focus of the nightly demonstrations against police brutality. Coincidentally, the nightly violence stopped once the federal police pulled back.
It depends on where you get your news. Either there were out-of-control rioters destroying the city. Or, if you change the channel, there were mostly peaceful protesters needling the heavily armed federal forces with taunts, graffiti, and the occasional firecracker or water bottle; and the unidentified force would respond with gas, pepper spray, ‘nonlethal’ pepper bullets, and batons.
The Black Lives Matter protests had focused on the history of Portland Police using excessive force, especially against black and brown residents. When the federal force descended on the town, the focus shifted to them and particularly the Hatfield U.S. Courthouse. With the pullback of the federal force, the focus has shifted back to the Portland Police.
Andrea and I went downtown yesterday to look around. It was Sunday and during the pandemic, so things were pretty quiet.
The Justice Center houses the Portland Police and a jail. It sits next to the Hatfield U.S. Courthouse. There was a group of perhaps a hundred people listening quietly to a dark-skinned woman speaking passionately about the challenges black boys and young men face just because they were born with dark skin. There was a police officer in regular uniform — no riot gear, no camouflage — at the corner directing traffic around the gathering.
We didn’t walk past the Hatfield Courthouse, but here’s a look as we drove past. You can see the barricades, the riot fence, the graffiti, and the building still standing.
Less than a block from the courthouse an entrepreneur has set up a stand selling Black Lives Matter t-shirts and paraphernalia.
Two blocks away, the theaters are closed because of the pandemic.
Another block, and the Heathman Hotel is OK, although it looks like its restaurant is closed.
One more block and some of the stores are open.
Across from Nordstrom is Pioneer Courthouse Square — pretty quiet on a hot Sunday afternoon. There was only one food cart open that late on Sunday.
The light-rail is still running. Most people we saw were wearing masks. The panhandler zeroing in on me didn’t have one, though.
One block farther west, Elephants Deli is closed.
And on the next block, Barlows had a sign:
The fountain behind the Schnitzer Concert Hall was running, including the water bowls for dogs.
Up the street, people were relaxing in the park.
The art museum was open but we didn’t go in.
Four blocks from the protests, a couple was drinking wine on the patio of the Oregon Historical Society.
And a block closer to the protest, we took a break at Caffe Umbria just before they closed for the afternoon.
[The cover photo was taken looking toward the protests, four blocks away.]