WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.
Saturday night began like many others recently for Nat West.
The founder and namesake of Reverend Nat's Hard Cider has accompanied his 16-year-old daughter, Beck, to the anti-police brutality protests downtown about three times per week since they began two months ago. Both had gotten used to the idea that they could be tear gassed at any moment.
But around 11:15 pm, with no warning and, West says, no justifiable provocation, federal officers occupying the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse unleashed an array of explosive crowd control munitions on demonstrators surrounding the building—at essentially point-blank range from where West and his daughter stood.
"I'm relatively new to this protest world. I've never been in war," says West, 43. "I don't know if it's a huge explosion happening farther away or a small explosion happening closer."
Having secured a miraculous parking spot two hours earlier, the Wests retreated to their car to assess the damage. Beck was covered in black powder and yellow residue, with quarter-inch rubber balls melted into her gear. She had burn marks on her neck, shoulder and back. Both suffered significant hearing loss.
An hour later, West posted photos of his daughter's injuries to Twitter. "Don't wish us well," he wrote. "Do what you can to get feds out of Portland and cops nationwide to stop killing Black people."
Don’t wish us well. Do what you can to get feds out of Portland and cops nationwide to stop killing Black people. pic.twitter.com/54hIic1PmW— I am Rev Nat (@revnatscider) July 26, 2020
Two days later, West says Beck has only regained about 10 percent of hearing. She has "months of rehab in front of her," he says. But they both plan to eventually return to protesting—on doctor's orders.
"The last thing [the doctor] said to me, he pointed out a very specific kind of hearing protection he recommend we get before we go back down there," West says. "It sounded like his medical advice was to gear up, not stay away."
See more Distant Voices interviews here.