|One of CANDO's favorite cops, Sgt. Jason VanMeter|
As couples and families with small children strolled along the Capitol Mall among the blooming cherry trees, they could hear the voices of 70 or so people at the southern end, insisting that love trumps hate, and that homophobia has got to go. "Jesus hates Fascism", according to one of the many hand-made signs, and does not care particularly about making America great again.
The crowd on the Capitol steps were there for one primary purpose: to prevent the MAGA (Make America Great Again) March from occupying them. And a beautiful
We noticed as they left that the police were following, so we followed, too. That's where we ran into the former head of the Downtown Enforcement Team, Jason VanMeter, who was happy to chat with us, despite needing to hold his bicycle in position as a part of the fence. In recent years, Jason's been behind a desk, promoted from the DET to admin, which he was very happy to abandon in January, in favor of patrol duty. He's now working with the mobile crisis response team (we think that's the right name, but we'll update if we find out it's something else), which he helped create.
|"Fence" between the east and west crowds|
It was kind of hard to hear our conversation with Jason because of all the yelling behind him. We couldn't make out what the argument(s) was/were about, but it's fairly safe to assume it wasn't about who was likely to prevail in the NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Tournament.
There was one arrest while we were there; it was one of the younger MAGA Marchers wearing a black III% hoodie (anyone know why it's III% instead of 3%?). Don't know what for, exactly. Nothing serious, it would seem. [Update: T. Oregonian reports it was for illegal possession of a firearm.)
|Arrested III%er at far left, Daniel Bejamin in the red MAGA hat|
A fellow MAGA Marcher joining our conversation, a man, said "those guys are Bernie burnouts." He said that they feel betrayed, hate Hillary Clinton, and don't believe in anyone or anything. He agreed with the woman that they "just want a fight."
Former Salem City Councilor Daniel Benjamin wandered over to greet the Chief, saying it was good to see him, though he wished it were under different circumstances. He was not, we think, referring to the fact that they were meeting at a pro-Trump rally, but rather to his having been forced recently to resign from the Salem City Council. The conversation was the briefest. He wandered away again, almost as soon as we had introduced ourselves.
As we chatted with Jerry about the need for people to forego their iPhones occasionally and talk to one another, sit on front porches if they have them, and risk actually talking to their neighbors about their barking dogs, the black blok types disappeared somewhere, and gave us a clear shot of the bicycle fence.
Was the ardor for argument chilled by the arrest, the warming sunshine, or was it just time to start thinking about lunch? We don't know. We said goodbye to Jerry, and continued our walk.
[Update: for a different perspective, check out Cameron Whitten's live stream video. I think we must have arrived shortly after he stopped filming. Thanks to Cameron, we got some nice pics of our friend Sarah Rohrs.]