State Sen. Dallas Heard, R-Winston, visited the Black Lives Matter protests in Portland twice last week.

What he saw there disturbed him.

He told The News-Review that on the first night he went, he saw more than 100 people he identified as antifa dressed in full black uniforms with body armor and black helmets, and some protesters were throwing explosives at the justice center building where the protest was taking place.

There was loud drumming and repetitive chanting he felt was designed to wind people up.

Most of the 1,000 or so protesters on the street right in front of the justice center were peaceful, he said, but they were listening to speakers talking about what sounded to him like racism against white people.

A few spoke about love, unity and coming together, but he didn’t think they received as much response from the crowd.

He said he witnessed people in a park directly behind the main street protests assaulting each other, sitting in clouds of marijuana smoke and using hard drugs. For the first time in his life, he saw women being beaten up.

He said his heart broke for the people there.

“As repulsed by the behavior and the hatred as I was, I had to leave the park several times and go about 100 yards away outside of any of it just to catch my breath,” he said.

“It was just too miserable. It was just too awful. It was like being in hell. It’s just the ground wasn’t on fire,” he said.

He visited on two evenings last week, a Tuesday and a Friday. On the first day, he said there were park benches and port-a-potties, and pizza, hot dogs, and racks of ribs were being given out. Friday, those amenities had disappeared, along with much of the drugs and violence.

Heard said none of what he saw at the protests seemed to him like a solution for the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

The most effective route to police reform, Heard believes, is to go after the police unions that make it difficult to discipline or fire bad police officers.

Heard sits on a joint legislative committee tasked with proposing police reforms for Oregon, and he has drafted a bill he hopes will make that change, working with a Democratic legislator who’s a member of the People of Color Caucus and representatives from law enforcement.

He said top members of law enforcement management have told him of several cases where they have attempted to fire an officer because they determined the public was not safe with them wearing a badge. Then the unions stepped in.

“In cases where they had terminated people, they were brought back to full employment with full back pay. It literally just equated to a long vacation,” he said.

Heard said he worries that messaging from Black Lives Matter that’s negative toward white people might draw a backlash on the African American community. And he said it’s hurtful to children of all races.

“We are allowing extremism like we’ve probably just about never seen in this nation start to gain traction and take root. Hating anyone for their skin color is, it’s just evil,” he said.

Heard said the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. wouldn’t have wanted that.

“He said he longed for the day when his children would be judged by the content of their character not the color of their skin. He pushed for true equality, not this ‘I’ve got a grudge and I hate my neighbor and so we’re going to flip this around so I can get even,’” he said.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

(14) comments

roseburggal

Oh hi, Dallas! It must be election season again, as I never hear these incredibly sappy stories otherwise. It is as if Dallas popped out of nowhere after the May primary and so far has: blamed the opposing party for everything, written several sob stories about his late grandmother (RIP but seriously on his political pages?), and now this. If I wanted to read a real tear jerker, I would have stayed at the library in the fantasy fiction section. So can we please pull out the non-fiction and actually hear about what he is doing in his seat? This millennial is not the type of millennial that should be in office in my humble opinion. But he was appointed, so maybe he doesn't really want to be there either. Maybe that's why he never shows up.

Momos

Remember, Heard is representative of the people that elected him. They form their opinions from Faux News and Lars Larson so they don't have to actually learn anything on their own. He knew what he was looking for, and he found it. He was too frightened and appalled to actually talk to anyone about why they were there. Poor baby, sounds traumatic. Too stubborn to maybe learn something.

Has Heard actually done anything in office besides sit on committees? Name one successful piece of legislation he actually wrote.

melrosereader

I think he did bill having something to do with loosening regulations on the landscaping business (self-dealing?) Not sure if it passed.

That's about it.

And not a single town hall. Ever.

Umpquabob

Have you been to the Portland protests? I doubt it.

melrosereader

"he saw more than 100 people he identified as antifa dressed in full black uniforms with body armor and black helmets."

"He identified" are the operative words here.

First: people had shields, bike helmets, goggles and gas masks to protect themselves from being gassed, pepper-sprayed and hit with not-quite-lethal weapons.

Second, I wear all black sometimes so does that mean I am antifa?

Third, sometimes I wear a Hawaiian shirt so maybe I'm a Boogaloo bois too.

Fourth, there are plenty of good books about systemic racism at the library. Maybe Senator Heard should read a few.

mworden

In my opinion, Sen. Heard is too fuII of nonsense to enumerate. However, I agree with him on one thing -- poIice unions, as they now exist, are a big part of the probIem. They protect bad cops and enabIe systemic discrimination to continue, not onIy against peopIe of coIor, but against poor and disadvantaged peopIe in generaI. It pains me to say that because I am a great advocate of unions. I want to see the poIice unions cIeaned up, and I want cops to stiII have the protections that come from being part of organized Iabor. It's a taII order. Most cops are decent peopIe, many are heroic, and some are pIain rotten. How can poIice departments cIean up their own shops when they have to battIe entrenched groups who refuse change. If 8 minutes and 46 seconds faiIs to arouse moraI outrage in you, then nothing wiII. I guess I don't reaIIy agree with Sen. Heard. I am definiteIy pro-union. I have the feeIing he's eager to find reasons to bust up unions. It's unfortunate that poIice unions set such a bad exampIe for organized Iabor.

Daniel

Exactly peacefrog! How did he know that a group of people was using hard drugs? And why not as a Black Lives Matters person to respond to his comments and explain there position concerning systematic/institutional racism and why they continue to protest and they feel about people who are violent and destructive at their rallies. The reporter could also ask how Heard knew that people dressed all in black with body armor and helmets were "Antifa"? So much just taken for granted without explanation.

peacefrog

I'm curious why the reporter didn't ask him to clarify his ridiculous statements. Precisely what did he hear that "sounded to him like racism against white people"? On what did he base his opinion that the people speaking about love didn't receive as much response? Also, why didn't he try to help the "women being beaten up"? Was it more h#ll-like with or without the hot dogs, drugs and violence?

Daniel

Rise722 you simply don't know what you are tallking about. There is study after study documenting cultural and economic racism in the U S. Individual experience just confirms that. This is not about individual racist behavior which of course exists. This is about work place discrimination, housing discrimination, discrimination in education and policing. Just some off the wall "there is no" statement is simply blind denial of reality.

Rise722

There is no such thing as systemic racism. I am American Indian and have led a very fine life - never experienced what everyone keeps screaming about. I guess if you go looking for misery, you will find it.

CitizenJoe

If you do not believe that there is any such thing as systemic racism, how would you account, for example why two different races use drugs at about the same rate, yet one is incarcerated for drug use at about four times the rate? Why would it be that one race is far less likely to get aggressive diagnosis and treatment for symptoms of acute coronary symptoms than is another race? Ditto pain medication. Ditto treatment for malignancy. Similar disparities occur in law-enforcement, the judicial system, schools, hiring, and so on, and have all been amply studied and reported. May I suggest that you go to google scholar and enter the term systemic racism? Now, based on what we know from neuroscience and psychology, it's unlikely you will change your mind based on evidence. See my reference to "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion," by Jonathan Haidt.

If systemic racism does not exist, then neither do the Rohingya people or the Uighurs.

CitizenJoe

Here is systemic racism in the data about who gets executed, for what:https://harvardcrcl.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2020/07/07.30.2020-Phillips-Marceau-For-Website.pdf

Daniel

Senator Heard has much to learn about institutional/systematic racism and white privilege. Sadly he missed the entire message of Black Lives Matter and instead did just what many of us do, got defensive and refused to accept the basic reality black people experience in our nation.

CitizenJoe

Precisely. All of us are reluctant to accept new and different perspectives. I commend to everyone "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion," by Jonathan Haidt,

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