At first glance, the marches didn't have much in common.

The first thing anybody noticed about the two biggest demonstrations in the streets of Portland during President Donald Trump's inauguration weekend were the contrasts. The first, on Jan. 20, began at dusk, was immediately confronted by a militarized Portland Police Bureau, and ended in pepper gas and screams. The second—the Women's March on Portland held Jan. 21—was a joyous daylight parade, sanctioned by city officials and embraced (sometimes literally) by cops, and felt less like a protest than a progressive party. In the hours that followed, observers, including this newspaper, would try to define the events by those differences.

But take another view. Look at the marches from the perspective of the paranoid personality cult inside a White House that covets a mandate from the American people.

Portland's protests, in their rage and numbers, send the same message: You won't get away with this.

(Adam Kupka)
(Adam Kupka)
(Garbriel Green)
(Garbriel Green)

However long this administration lasts, it matters that Trump knows he can never set foot inside this city. The significance is more than symbolic. Portland's hostility denies Trump the adoration he seeks, and gives his opponents the political capital to stop him. Despotism triumphs only when a nation decides it's inevitable. Portlanders are proving they will never accept that. Our democracy depends on adversaries—obstructionist, contrarian and noisy—getting in the way of traffic and tyranny.

Protesting is a mess. God bless it.

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