Clyde is a working class white man, born and raised and lived his entire life in South East Portland. He is approaching fifty years old, is of below average height, handsome, muscular, and smiles a lot. I didn’t set out to ask him about violence, but after asking if he watched the Fury-Walleen fight, the conversation drifted towards personal experiences with violence. I let him do the talking, and asked questions here and there.
“It’s lawless around here alright. Didn’t used to be. I’ve had the cops beat the shit out of me pretty good back in the day. Now, they let you off without even a beating. You know, Portland cops used to have a reputation for being brutal. You didn’t want to fuck with them. That’s all changed now…..”
People have the habit of throwing around these terms, beat the shit out of, beat the hell out of, beat the piss out of, when they don’t really apply. I’ve been guilty of it myself without realizing that I’m doing it. Getting your nose broken and a couple black eyes is NOT getting the shit beat out you. That is just a beating.
“I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but I came from a pretty abusive home. I got beat at home everyday as a kid, and then I’d go to school and the first person who looked at me wrong, I’d drop my books and it’d be on. I grew up fighting, spent my whole life fighting.” Clyde has previously told me he studied boxing for a time and was a standout wrestler back in school.
“I used to go out looking for fights. It’s what I did for fun. All through my 20’s and 30’s.” I ask if he would target men he knew he could beat, or if he looked for guys that would actually give him a good fight.
“I had little man’s syndrome.”
Being a big guy myself, I know what this looks like from the other side. I like Clyde, but make a mental note to never go out drinking with him. His smile says a lot.
“I was driving downtown and some asshole in a Corvette cut me off and said some shit out the window, told me to pull over. I get out, and pretty soon I got him down, I’m on top of him, on some bushes, just smashing his face in.”
“The cops drive by and see what’s going on and pull me off of him. One cop gets me up against the wall and starts screaming at me, calling me a fucking punk. I push him off with one hand and start walking off……and then, BAM! This pretty little blonde cop brought her nightstick down on the top of my head. There were six cops there, and they couldn’t get my arms behind my back. They did a Rodney King on my ass. They beat me with their sticks until I was unconscious. They cuffed me and shackled my ankles, then took me to a private cell in the county jail. Once I got there, these six cops beat me with their sticks, kicked me all over, and didn’t quit until they got tired out. I was still hogtied. I passed out and then a couple hours later, they came in and did it all over again. I was saying shit to them the whole time, I shoulda just shut up. They gave me the worst beating I’ve ever had. They finally let me out and I never got charged with anything.”
I ask if he ended up hospitalized.
“No, I probably should’ve gone to a hospital. I had a pretty serious concussion. Both shoulders were separated. I was black and blue all over. Couldn’t get off my couch for a week.”
“I don’t hate the cops though. It’s a tough job. But they shouldn’t have done that to me. It was brutal.”
Clyde’s story is compelling to me. First of all, because it’s true. He’s not a bullshitter. But it also raises some relevant questions about life in Portland. The cops have their hands tied. They are under a microscope by the liberal city council and black church groups that are the defacto oversight committee. The county jail is basically a drive thru window, get printed, get out, no charges. There is an undercurrent of lawlessness that is kept in check only by the demographics and relative affluence of the city’s inhabitants.
For now, I think that I will go ahead and say that I’m in favor what of the liberal cop haters have accomplished. I don’t need the pigs to protect me, and I sure as fuck don’t need them bashing MY head in. If the only two options are mild anarchy or living under a police state, I’ll take my chances with anarchy.