Law & Order vs. Chalk

The eastern-Washington City of Selah, home to TreeTop Apple Juice, will not abide repeated lawbreaking. The Selah city attorney has put a resident on notice, threatening prosecution if they continue to use chalk to draw Black Lives Matter art and slogans on the dead-end street in front of their house. The City Attorney sent a letter to the homeowners notifying them that using chalk to draw on a public street constitutes gross misdemeanor malicious mischief and they cannot “create unauthorized graffiti on public property with impunity.”

BLM protests have increased since the Selah City Administrator went on record describing Black Lives Matter supporters as “devoid of intellect and reason.”
The City Attorney announced, “Selah is not Seattle. The laws will be enforced in Selah.”

I’ve been to Selah (population 7,147). It definitely is not Seattle.

Meanwhile, Yakima County, home to Selah, is a hot spot of surging COVID-19 infections. A Yakima City Council member who has asserted that healthy immune systems fortified by vitamins can safeguard people from the virus, has been an organizer of demonstrations protesting business restrictions, mask-wearing and social distancing.

Robert E. Lee vs. Allen Toussaint

Like many others, the city of New Orleans is re-considering some of its place and street names. Jefferson Davis Parkway will soon be Norman C. Francis Parkway. Mr. Francis was the long-time president of Xavier University.

Allen Toussaint’s houses on Robert E. Lee Blvd. (NOLA Times-Picayune)

Hurricane Katrina forced Allen Toussaint from his New Orleans home in 2005. He relocated to New York City until returning to his birthplace several years later. He purchased and renovated his son Reginald’s former home—Reginald had also been washed out—and two adjacent properties on Robert E. Lee Boulevard. He also bought a house around the corner. The famed musician/songwriter/arranger/producer made one his primary residence, another a recording studio, a third for band members who needed a place to stay and the fourth for Reginald when he visited.

Continue reading “Robert E. Lee vs. Allen Toussaint”

Monuments… It’s Complicated

Ongoing protests have again brought to public consciousness that it’s way past time to do something about statues, monuments, buildings and military installations that honor traitors who took up arms against the United States. Demonstrators have defaced and toppled statues of Confederate luminaries and in some places have done the same to Founding-Father icons such as Washington and Jefferson, who were slave holders.

In the meantime, officials at the Stenton House Museum & Gardens in Philadelphia are planning a sculptural memorial for Dinah, who is credited with saving the mansion from destruction by British soldiers during the Revolutionary War. Museum directors are also searching for her burial spot, which they believe is somewhere on the grounds.

Stenton House was built for James Logan, who arrived from Ireland in 1699. He was secretary to William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, and friend of Benjamin Franklin. He named the house for his father’s birthplace in Scotland. Logan served as mayor of Philadelphia and on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. He assembled in his home one of the finest libraries in the colonies.

Continue reading “Monuments… It’s Complicated”

Police Chronicles: The Opossum Incident

The Burger Barn on Northeast Union Avenue was a late-night gathering place for Portland’s black citizenry. To some of Portland’s Police Department it was a hangout for the disreputable.

In the spring of 1981, two of PDX’s finest deposited four dead opossums at the front entry to the black-owned business. Witnesses said four police cars and seven other cops were present. News of this prompted protest marches through downtown. Charles Jordan, the city commissioner in charge of the Police Bureau, fired the two officers. An arbitrator later reinstated the two officers with thirty-day unpaid suspensions. Hundreds of angry cops marched on City Hall. The Burger Barn filed a $3.4 million suit against the city but eventually settled for $64,000.

Continue reading “Police Chronicles: The Opossum Incident”

When Ofays Riot

“I am urging the parents of white youngsters particularly to not let their children go out wearing LL Bean.”

Seaside is a small town on the northern Oregon Coast, an hour-and-a-half drive from Portland. It has long been a popular destination for vacationing families and spring-break revelers. It’s home to skee-ball, bumper cars and Lewis and Clark’s salt works.

A fight broke out among several young males in Seaside during the Labor Day weekend in 1962. When police moved in to break it up, hundreds of young white people went on a rampage, bombarding police with rocks and beer bottles, full and empty. (Yes, alcohol was involved.)

Firefighters trained hoses on the rioters; the rioters took knives to the hoses. The hoses they didn’t slash, they turned on the firefighters. Storefront windows on Broadway were smashed, cars were vandalized. The thirty-foot-high lifeguard tower was pulled from the beach. Police reinforcements came from Astoria and Portland. Sixty people were arrested.

Continue reading “When Ofays Riot”

Remembering Christo and Jeanne-Claude

“It will give shape to the wind. It will go over the hills and into the sea, like a ribbon of light.”
– from environmental-impact report for Running Fence

Lost amid the whirlwinds of news—COVID-19, the murder of George Floyd and resultant demonstrations, opportunistic rioting and looting—is the obituary of the artist Christo, who has died at age eighty-four.

With Jeanne-Claude, his wife and collaborator, Christo gave the world wondrous, larger-than-life art installations in public spaces. All were open to everyone at no cost; Christo and Jeanne-Claude financed the projects themselves. They were all temporary, gone without a trace after a couple weeks, with no environmental damage and no public expense.

Christo & Jeanne-Claude in Central Park
Continue reading “Remembering Christo and Jeanne-Claude”