Readers Respond to Police Surveillance of Portland Protesters

“As someone who is an annoying leftist: no shit.”

VEGANS AGAINST FASCISM: Protesters on the Portland Waterfront on Aug. 17, 2019. (Justin Katigbak/Justin Katigbak)

On regular occasion, the Portland Police Bureau’s single-engine Cessna has provided a backing track to the sounds of unrest in the streets. That plane, manned by two officers, is used to provide information to riot cops on the ground. Its thrumming presence has long annoyed people below—as evidenced by reader response to WW’s transcribing radio recordings from inside the cockpit (“Plane Speaking,” March 13). Those recordings surfaced as part of a lawsuit by Hannah Ahern, who was tackled by police at a counterprotest of a Proud Boys rally in 2019. Here’s what our readers had to say:

like thus, via Reddit: “I’m neither a defunder nor a police abolitionist; I’m not interested in painting police with any broad brush. But I also believe in robust and vocal criticism whenever it’s earned. Stories like this are so important for accountability and to prod those who support police to consider how far their support goes.

“As often as WW gets called (absurdly) ‘conservative,’ yet again I’m pleased with how their reporting highlights local stories the community needs to be able to talk about with access to basic facts.”

nothardtofindinpdx, via Instagram: “That plane was busy in 2020, I used the app Flightradar24 to watch it circle protests for months. Wonder how many of those recordings were ‘missing.’”

Slawzik, via Reddit: “As someone who is an annoying leftist: no shit. Pointing out the hypocrisy isn’t going to embarrass them or make them change; it’s the whole point of being a cop, especially if you’re allowed to fly the plane.”

7 Bad Words, via “An ACAB Pulitzer in the making. Or bird cage liner.

“This chump lawyer and his opportunistic client—both of whom are trying to fleece the taxpayer—are doomed. But there will be grandstanding to precede the loss.”

MULTFOREST, via Reddit: “One year after this incident, Mike Schmidt announced that his office would not be prosecuting city ordinance violations related to protests, including disorderly conduct, unless they were accompanied by charges related to deliberate property damage, theft, or the use of threat or force against another person. The police have been loudly campaigning against his ‘lawlessness’ ever since. But I have to wonder if the DA’s office heard these recordings when considering whether to prosecute Hannah Ahern and whether that might have played into the subsequent decision on protest-related charges.”

Bill G, via “Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, was the day a bunch of right-wingers from across the country came to Portland to teach us a lesson. And instead they went home with their tails between their legs. It was a big nothing burger. It was Yellfest 2019. It looked like a lot of people on camera, but overall it was pretty tame by Portland standards.

“The police, despite being active supporters of the visiting team, actually did a good job of keeping both parties separated. They minimized conflict. They were able to get all those knuckleheads back across the Morrison to their staging area unharmed. And they made a hole for them to escape.

“Bravo. As peacekeepers, they did their job. After years of practice, they got it dialed in. Good job, boys.

“As for damning recordings—nothing they said sounds unusual to me. Farmers talk about farming. Doctors talk about doctoring. Police talk about policing. Surprise! Not. Unless there are more specific discussions, you know it was a quiet day if they were planning lunch over the air.”

kaifresn, via Instagram: “A flying leaf blower.”

Letters to the editor must include the author’s street address and phone number for verification. Letters must be 250 or fewer words. Submit to: P.O. Box 10770, Portland, OR 97296 Email:

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