The Buddhist Peace Fellowship in Portland, Oregon, led a meditation march around Portland City Hall on Tuesday in support of the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests in the city. The purpose of the meditation was to call attention to “Portland’s need to reject white supremacy and enact anti-racist policies.” (Portland Mercury)
The hour-long meditation was scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday evening. Prior to the event, organizers of the meditation said participants could expect to “sit with the suffering caused by racist violence and police brutality, and with the wish for all beings to be safe.” (Fox2now) Protests began in Portland and around the United States after George Floyd was killed during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on 25 May.
On its Facebook page, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Portland stated:
This history of colonization—to which the history of white supremacy and anti-Blackness is deeply, inextricably tied—has everything to do with our reason for being here tonight: to stand and walk together in silent witness and protest of white supremacy, police brutality, and the ongoing murder of and deep-seated disregard for Black lives. Let our time together tonight be a reminder both of the power we each have—individually and collectively—to actively oppose and resist white supremacy, and of the fact that, particularly for those of us who are white, that resistance has to start with ourselves: with an honest look at how we have been shaped by this culture of white supremacy, and with tireless, fearless efforts to contest and undo that toxic conditioning, in ourselves and in others, and to stop and repair the legacy of harm we have both benefited from and caused. (Facebook)
While around 50 people sit outside Portland City Hall in silent meditation, others in slow walking meditation surround the building on 21 July. Photo by James Sissler. From facebook.com
Portland, population 650,000, has become a hotbed of the US’s ongoing Black Lives Matter protest movement. The city has seen 56 straight days of protests, prompting President Donald Trump earlier this month to deploy federal forces to the city. However, this strategy seems to have backfired with the emergence first of a “Wall of Moms” linking arms as they confronted the federal forces and then the “Portland Dad Brigade”—armed with leaf-blowers, a tactic seen in Hong Kong to powerfully redirect tear gas thrown at the women—having joined the ranks of mostly younger protesters.
Images over the past week have shown unidentified federal officers in military fatigues grabbing protesters—or people who looked like protesters—and pulling them into unmarked vehicles. After ongoing protests on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, the federal officers were seen retreating from the streets and into a courthouse building.
“The feds don’t have control of the streets,” said a woman holding a sign that read “100% not a terrorist,” who gave her name only as Shannon. “I think they’re more scared than us. They’re hiding in there. They don’t know what they’re doing.” (The Guardian)
Clarifying their place in the protest movement, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Portland observed in their Facebook post:
This is a silent protest. This is not a peaceful protest. Do not call us “peaceful protesters.” To be peaceful in this moment of State violence is to be complicit. We are not complicit.
From Rev. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, in her new book, The Deepest Peace: “Peace is not superior. Peace is persistent. Rage is persistent as well. I meditate while trembling with rage.”
Portland Buddhist Peace Fellowship meditates in public to call attention to systemic racism and its brutality and violence. We meditate in rage, honoring the suffering caused by white supremacy. We meditate in silence. Silence is one tactic. We support multiple tactics. Many of us practice multiple tactics.
Do not call us peaceful. We are strengthened by meditation so that we can find other ways to resist the domination of a violent State. Do not mistake our silence for peacefulness. (Facebook)
Another “Meditation for Black Lives” event has been scheduled for 28 July at 7 p.m. The Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Portland has further asked that those wishing to donate to support their efforts do so through the Don’t Shoot Portland project, a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that offers a variety of community services, ranging from advocacy and legal workshops to community food-sharing and Radical Dharma outreach.