Eleanor Finley: Summer of Fire: Municipalism and the George Floyd Uprising

Minim, March 29, 2021

The summer and fall of 2020 brought a reckoning on racialized violence in the US at a scale unseen in generations. On November 5, in the midst of immense political tension regarding the high-stakes presidential election, the Sheriff’s Office of Multnomah County, Oregon (which contains the city of Portland) tweeted this:

The seized items — a hammer, a helmet, mace — seem hand-picked to paint the image of a dangerous rioter, someone planning for chaos and destruction. Yet among the contraband there is another, more inconspicuous ‘weapon’: a zine pamphlet. Obscured by the garish light of a police station, the cover reads ‘Communalism: democracy, decentralization, freedom, ecology”.

Why did police decide to include a pamphlet on Communalism in their display? How did the protestor come to be carrying it in their backpack? While it is useless to speculate on the intentions of police, this curious and humorous incident leads to a more interesting set of questions: In a left-leaning city where municipalist politics are perhaps at their strongest in the US, what was the engagement of municipalists in the George Floyd uprising? How do municipalists make sense of these events in their own cities?

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