Der Haubentaucher ist bekanntlich ein großer Portland-Fan (ohne jemals dort gewesen zu sein). Die Stadt in Oregon ist ein Zentrum der Popkultur, sie ist immer schon freiheitsliebender und weniger konservativ als viele andere Teile der USA. Kein Wunder, dass gerade hier in den vergangenen Tagen und Wochen gegen Rassismus und die Politik von Donald Trump protestiert und demonstriert wurde. Nun ziehen sich nach Medienberichten die Bundespolizisten („Feds“) wieder aus der Stadt zurück. Wir wollten von zwei der spannendsten Musiker*innen von Portland wissen, wie es derzeit in der Stadt aussieht und wie es weitergehen könnte, auch mit der krisengebeutelten Musikszene. Maria Maita-Keppeler und Matthew Zeltzer schickten uns Antworten auf unsere Fragen.
Haubentaucher: Portland is known as a very liberal town, full of artists and bars, how is life today in the city?
Maria & Matthew: In Portland, many bars have begun to open again with restrictions, but no shows are being held at venues for the foreseeable future. There have been some unofficial shows at the protests which are currently being held in support of Black Lives Matter and to work towards Defunding Police and opposing the Federal Agents who have been sent to our town. Many of our artists are unemployed now, especially because our usual side jobs for when we are not on tour are in the food service industry, which has greatly suffered due to Covid. I think due to the fact that so many are unemployed, many people are able to have the time to dedicate to protesting or supporting the Black Lives Matter movement however they can.
Are the demonstrations going on and how would you describe the situation during the protests?
Since George Floyd’s death, there have been various anti-racist demonstrations every day in Portland. There are Black Lives Matter marches, vigils, informational film screenings, workshops, happening all over town. Overall the demonstrations have been very peaceful, and most have not involved the police or federal agents whatsoever. Every day and night there has been a group of protesters downtown at the Justice Center, which has been the center of the news headlines. It is there that the conflicts have been occurring between peaceful protesters and law enforcement. Many people who go to the Justice Center go equipped with respirator masks, goggles, helmets, gloves, protective shields, leaf blowers, and other equipment to protect themselves from tear gas and less-lethal munition (which has still been known to break bones and even cause death). It has been amazing to see so much bravery from the citizens of Portland, who go to the Justice Center knowing that it is very likely they will be gassed, or worse. The crowd has only grown larger since Trump sent the federal troops to the city, and the protesters continue to remain peaceful. Yes, there has been graffiti and vandalism of buildings and statues downtown, but this is very small compared to the injury and trauma that the police and feds have responded with, and very small compared to the violence and oppression that Black Americans are subject to each and every day. The police and feds have been tear-gassing protesters without provocation, violently targetting journalists, shooting protesters in the head with ‚less-lethal‘ munitions (ex. rubber bullets), and arresting protesters off the street in unmarked vehicles. It is entirely excessive.
How is your life as artists, I guess you could not play live for weeks or even months, all tours are cancelled…?
For many artists, I think we are trying to use this mandatory break in touring and playing shows to focus on social justice issues. This is the perfect time, we do not have distractions, many of us are unemployed, we can take a break from promoting (as is so necessary for artists, unfortunately) and work instead on spreading awareness about Black Lives Matter issues, the upcoming election, and more. It is sad and difficult to know that we won’t come together for concerts in a long, long time, but it feels worth it if we can work towards this other, highly important goal of trying to take down the systems that oppress so many in America.
How will the following weeks and months till the presidential elections be for you, for the city of Portland, maybe even for the whole country, what do you expect?
We don’t know what to expect, honestly, but I do know that the people will not slow down. As it gets closer and closer to the elections, I think we can all expect protests to continue to grow, all over the country. I don’t think they will start to slow down until we get rid of Trump, and after that, we will see.
Danke an Dominik von Rola Music für die Vermittlung!
Bild: © Maita 2020