Over this past weekend, I was in Portland visiting for the first time family who gathered for a reunion, with my second daughter, Caitlin, with two of my grandsons, having moved there in January from San Francisco (she is a psychiatrist with the VA system). I had been through a few times in a car but never stopped. So curious to check it out. I generally liked the place and had a good time.
I also decided to check up on some of the hyperbolic claims I have heard over the past year-plus or so regularly on Fox News, especially the Hannity show that I keep an eye on. When for example denying that the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington was anything anybody should be upset about, Hannity has regularly invoked Portland in particular as a place that was “burning to the ground” in supposed Antifa and Black Lives Matter riots. It certainly is true that Portland has seen a lot of violence and plenty of demonstrations over the last year, being, in fact, one of the few places in the US where there are actually people who ID as being “antifa” and show up to protest, with right-wing opponents of them, such as the frequently violent Proud Boys also showing up to fight them. On Fox, I have seen plenty of burning buildings and boarded-up buildings.
So I checked out the downtown. I did not see any riots or burned-down buildings. I did see some boarded-up ones, a whole two blocks worth, one of those just next to the Pioneer Courthouse, indeed a major focus of protests, and one other block a couple of blocks away. That was pretty much it. I saw a lot of garbage in a nearby park, and there are quite a few homeless people in Portland. But the claims being repeated so frequently and vigorously on Fox News look to me to be just wild exaggerations.