PSU student among those arrested at recent anti-Trump protests

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Daniel Vega, a music major at PSU, was arrested at an anti-Trump protest in November. Matthew Andrews/PSU Vanguard

Two weeks in and it’s already ancient news that 120 people, including several Portland State students, were arrested during a demonstration in downtown Portland on Nov. 12.

The myriad of ongoing demonstrations have included blocked freeways, a shooting on the Morrison Bridge, disruption caused by violent factions—and subsequent fundraising efforts to repair property damage—and the ongoing drama of post-election rumors of fraud and recount petitions. It is easy to lose sight of those individually affected by current events.

Daniel Vega, a senior at PSU studying music composition and completing his Bachelor of Music degree, was among those arrested on Nov. 12. Vega agreed to sit down with the Vanguard and talk about his experience.


Watch Daniel’s one-on-one interview. Matthew Andrews/PSU Vanguard

Vega has lived in Portland for four years and said he had never seen anything like what has been happening here since Donald Trump’s election on Nov. 8. He described the police as “a paramilitary in America” being “militarized against peaceful protestors” using flash bangs, pepper spray and line formations to blockade and arrest demonstrators who refused to heed the police’s warnings to disperse.

Vega recalled that the police chased the crowd and used loudspeakers to direct the dispersing protesters down Southwest Broadway towards the Benson Hotel, where another line of police blocked their route.

Vega alleges that everyone in the immediate vicinity was arrested indiscriminately, including some who were simply “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Vega expressed optimism about the protests and even his own arrest. He spoke at length about the history of violent and nonviolent strategies for social changes and cited Erica Chenowith’s study on the effectiveness of nonviolent resistance—a study frequently discussed by veteran civil rights activist and PSU Conflict Resolution professor Tom Hastings, who helped code the study’s research data.

The study found that resistance campaigns which eschew violence are historically twice as successful as those which embrace it. Vega contrasted the bloody and ultimately compromised French Revolution with the nonviolent 2000 Serbian uprising against Milošević; in Serbia, police refused orders to fire upon peaceful demonstrators, knowing their own wives and children were among them.

Vega, connecting the demonstrations in Portland with those in Serbia, asked, “Who in their right mind would want to shoot somebody else’s wife, or somebody else’s kid?” He reports having seen officers weeping at the protests, which he took as a sign that a “safety in numbers” tipping point is nearing, when the social connections between protesters and police will become too intimate to ignore.

9 COMMENTS

  1. The power of the civil rights marches in the ’60s derived from Martin Luther King’s message of nonviolence. The brutal conduct of law enforcement, particularly in the South, led to a new awareness across the nation. Even the most indifferent separate-but-equal crowd sat up and paid attention to what was going on, something that probably would not have happened had the movement not followed the peaceful protest concepts of those great leaders such as Jesse Jackson, John Lewis, and Dr. King.

    Just as occurred in the late ’60s, the “disruption caused by violent factions” is still found in many protests, from Furgeson to Baltimore, but is clearly rejected by the vast majority of protesters seeking social change without conflict.

    • You mean the phony protests in Ferguson paid for by George Soros? What a joke. Michael Brown was a thug. 6’4″ 280 lbs. Just robbed a store. Punched a cop and grabbed his gun, oh, gee he got shot…Moral of the story is don’t punch cops and grab their guns. Don’t be a thug.

      Baltimore? Freddy Gay? Known serial felon. Slammed his own head into a van door effectively killing himself….You had black cops, black mayer, black head of police-but this is racism…Freakin brilliant. Losers….

      • This made me laugh, you are 100% correct. I’d like to add that blocking bridges, blocking roads (denying citizens their freedom of movement) and destroying private property because you disagree with something is not a peaceful protest. I’m all for protests even If I disagree with what the protest is about but you idiots are why the federal government started designating unconstitutional “free speech” zones.

    • One big difference, the civil rights marches in the 60’s were also pro-Americanism, tons of American flags at events, these new ‘protests’ are really anti-American protests, go to the next one and count how many American flags you see.. Dr. MLK would probably put his foot through these Black Lives Matter organizers chests if he could…

  2. These are douchebags. Comparing them to “Martin Luther King” is like comparing a mongoloid to Albert Einstein. They should not only have been arrested, they should have had their bitch-asses kept in jail for a week…Instead Portland didn’t charge anybody assuring this sort of stupidity in the future. Get a permit. Do things legally morons….Grow the f up little bitches.

  3. Vega is your typical liberal douchebag PSU student, incorrectly believing that the police in the US have been “militarized”! In fact, after the election, it was mainly the liberal cities that became violent, and therefore needed a police presence. This new brand of entitled, whiny, brats is what has made Portland intolerable today.

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