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Editorial

The State of Raindrop Works

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This is an editorial. All views and statements made are the personal words of the editorial staff. Please treat this accordingly.

If you’re reading this page, most likely you know that the entire Raindrop Works network was offline for a few days this week, with a static front page with a letter from me trying to put some context into what had happened. Part of the time we were offline I wasn’t sure if I wanted to bring the site back online, if the work that I was doing was beneficial to the community in general. Several people did reach out to confirm that yes, they did appreciate the insight that I’d been providing, and it started becoming less of an ‘if’ we would return as a media organization (Raindrop Works was originally billed as a tech company, this was as pivot post George Floyd) and more of a ‘when’.

‘When’ was up in the air because I needed to work on sorting out a number of missteps that I took, particularly in regards to a specific article I had written that caused a backlash from a portion of the community. I wanted to be able to come back with the article already fixed. The police shooting Friday short circuited the work that I was doing with others to sort that out. So while it’s not what I’d consider ‘ideal’, I have done a patch job of pulling down problematic things until we can properly fix it.

At the core of the problem, I found four issues that I needed to address with that article:

  • I had accidently misgendered the person in question. I had no idea, and it was a complete accident that is a very easy fix for me to do
  • I had used the person’s government name instead of their preferred name. Again, I had no idea, and I was more than happy to find a way to respectfully fix that issue. The one issue that I had was that documents that come from courts will always have the government name attached to them. I tried to research AP Stylebook for guidance on how to address what is admittedly a niche case. Transgender people (where my personal experience comes from, and how I used as a basis for research) are often victims of crime and finding articles that address them as just parties in legal proceedings (criminal or civil) was very difficult. I think I’ve got a way to do it that gives me a good middle ground.
  • That I used the person’s name at all. While I understand and acknowledge that people on the ground had decided not to use the person’s name, that conversation seemed to happen after I had published the article and was actually asleep. Journalists don’t really like to write stories referencing a person without giving the audience an idea of who the person is. I only really need to use a name once to set the subject of the portion of the article, and then it’s done. Additionally, as I mentioned before, we make use of court records and make them publicly available. With no name in the article to correct the government error, the only name referenced would be an incorrect name.
  • The final issue was using their government name in a few tweets. I fully admit that in light of the other issues, as well as the fact that the only reason I wrote about them at all was not because of the allegations, but of what the DA was doing to them on top of it. I was hesitant to delete tweets off the bat for two reasons. First being, it personally feels like I’m trying to cover up my mistakes. I realize that in this case, it was about much more than my feelings. The second reason, which if I knew the errors immediately, I could have deleted and reposted before anyone interacted, but there had been something of a conversation already. I didn’t know how to address removing the tweets without silencing the conversations that were attached to them.

Yes, with a bit of help and time, these were all things that could have been addressed. Unfortunately, the demands to ‘fix it’ immediately combined with not knowing how to fix it in a way that I felt comfortable with triggered a massive anxiety attack in me. Anxiety is a normal thing for me, and I have decent coping skills, but the circumstances that night overwhelmed everything I had prepared, I couldn’t work, and I was still dealing with demands to ‘do it’ to protect the person. I never handle split second decisions well, and in response, I tried to shut down the damage as safely as I could. I protected my timeline, but with well over a thousand followers at the time, ‘protected tweets’ don’t really do much. So all I could do was the ‘nuclear option’ of deactivating the whole account. I didn’t know until the next day that the data actually still existed (which made me feel marginally better). I also redirected this site to a static page so that none of the information could be accessed (even by myself at the time)


I fell back to an alternate account that I’d made previously to be able to vent about personal issues that didn’t belong on main. And somehow, I was seeing a different side of protest Twitter than I had been before. People justifying the assault on a reporter at the scene of the murder at the hands of police. People saying he shouldn’t have been assaulted, but other reporters were fair game. Reporters who had been accused of something almost a year ago, that when I looked at the claims, I didn’t believe were accurate. But enough to blackball them to certain people, and with no new evidence or claims of ‘wrongdoing’, they still glorify the idea of beating up a person.

That struck me deep. And hard. I’ve been involved in the conversations over streamer ethics over the summer (film the cops, not the protesters). I’ve argued that on top of that, protesters need to take actions to protect themselves as well. I’ve agreed with the idea of ‘no streamer’ protests. But what I saw online, coupled with what I had gone through this week, gave me the sinking realization that for a certain subsegment of the protest movement, any journalism will be too much journalism.

And the idea that members of a group of people who are opposed to violence at the hands of police seemed okay with, if not giddy, at the idea inflicting police-like violence on people they don’t like was a line too far for me. I’m not going to name names, because I don’t need to.


Going forward, I’m making a few adjustments to our editing and processes here, as well as clarifying a few things.

1 Raindrop Works is not set up as a “protest journalism” or “racial justice journalism” organization. It may have been in the beginning, but since I retired from on the ground reporting, our focus has shifted towards “courtroom journalism”, particularly with a focus on government accountability and transparency. That doesn’t meant that there won’t be overlap with protest related events, or racial justice (lawsuits against the city for excessive force alone can be a huge part of my work). But purely protest related stories, I don’t need to cover because others are already doing that, and far better than I can.

2 I will work to be more mindful of how individuals are portrayed in documents and articles. I have already made judicious use of redactions in the past, usually to protect victims of particular alleged crimes, but for the most part, everything that I get from court records can be accessed by anyone in the general public with a little bit of work. The court filings that I make available are meant to make access to the information easier. So while I will try to redact sensitive information, there are limits to how much I can do without making the documents useless.

3 As always, I’m more than happy to correct factual errors in articles. I often get leads for stories directly from court filings or from other outlets that may rush to be first to press and not get correct information. The likelihood of me completely deleting a story, especially because some people don’t like it, is unlikely. Show me the errors, and I’ll gladly address it. Of course, since Twitter doesn’t allow for edits, that will be handled a little differently going forward.

4 Since, as I said before, I’m no longer doing ‘protest journalism’, I don’t actually need to be observing all the protest chatter online like I have been. And even less reason to be paying attention to people who would be glad to see police violence be dispensed to other journalists. If you suddenly can’t read my tweets, that might be why. You’re still welcome to read my articles on the site, however.


Black Lives Matter

Black Trans Lives Matter

Indigenous Lives Matter

Sincerely, Heather Van Wilde

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Editorial

A breakdown of Anarchy as Order flyers

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In a recent livestream I pointed out how the, previously unknown to me, Anarchy as Order Twitter account (@anarchyasorder) had apparently tried to align themselves with Raindrop Works and noted public records and rights lawyer Alan Kessler and heavily imply that we were working with them, a detail which only came to light as they allegedly began spreading (in their words) thousands of flyers throughout NE Portland neighborhoods trying to use the newly approved recall process to further their own means. In the video I tried to go through the flyer in the best detail that I could, refuting what I saw as dangerous or troubling points. Almost a full day after, the operator of AaO’s twitter claimed that “No one has refuted any of our points!”

So allow me to do that now.

After I did the livestream, I was pointed towards a similar, but not quite the same flyer that made the rounds on Facebook in late May thanks to Twitter user and journalist @johnthelefty that I’m also going to use in my breakdown, as most of the items are shared between the two, and the differences are telling in regards to the evolution of a message.

May 29 FlyerJuly 9 FlyerNotes
Header
Anarchy as Order logo matching their Twitter bannerAnarchy as Order logo has had font changed from a calligraphy script to a more cursive script. Also, the Total Recall PDX logo has been added to each top cornerIt didn’t take long for a response from @totalrecallpdx to confirm that they did not authorize their association with this flyer
Flyer Title
Agenda for Abolishing Portland Police BureauAgenda for Recalling the Portland Police Commissioner and Abolishing Portland Police BureauIt becomes clear that while, yes, one of (many) concerns cited about the mayor that’s driving the recall is about his mishandling of the Portland Police, the maker of the flyer is even more focused on that detail than the larger picture.
Agenda (Short Term)
– Radicalize convertsRecall Ted WheelerThe flyer has evolved to make a hard shift from ‘coverting’ people to courting the recall effort as a mechanism, while still maintaining the extremist ideologies in later quotes
– Build financial reserves.
– Create weapons cache
Appoint Jo Ann Hardesty as police commissionerThe tone here has backpedaled hard from setting the stage for a private army to instead wanting Jo Ann Hardesty to replace Ted Wheeler as police commissioner. This is something Jo Ann and a number of protesters have ultimately wanted to have happen (her being police commissioner), but there is no ‘appointment’ process in the case of a successful recall. Mayor Wheeler’s duties would be divvied between the remaining council members until the election of a new mayor.
Agenda (Long-Term)
– Finance more activists to Portland– Disarm all police
– End qualified immunity
This is another hard pivot in agenda because the original agenda doesn’t mesh well with recall efforts. Disarming all police, while ideally sounds good, becomes problematic with later reading. Ending qualified immunity can be seen as a laudable goal in itself, but it would require legislative changes at the state level, which the city has limited sway in
– Drain key city resources– Terminate city contract with PPAThe pivot from draining city resources to terminating the current police contract is written to be more in line with oversimplified recall goals, but will make a resurgence later in the flyer. Beyond that, terminating the PPA contract would not only face stiff legal challenges (especially since the contract is going towards arbitration for renewal at this time), but if the PPB was dissolved, all that would happen is that most of the resources would be merged with the already existing Multnomah County Sheriffs Office, a proposal that was already mulled over last year.
Agenda (Permanent)
Abolish PPBAbolish PPB
Replace with community defense groupsReplace with political community defense groups managed by Sarah IannaroneThe addition of “political” as well as the idea of former mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone is language chosen to be inflammatory. While details on why ‘political’ was added are uncertain, the idea of them being managed by Ms. Iannarone, without consulting with her first, was immediately evocative of Portland Tribune editor’s implications that the recall effort was more of an effort to relitigate the 2020 election and slide her into the mayor’s seat through some backdoor. Additionally, she responded to state that she had not authorized her name to be attached to this plan at all, and a piece she wrote on July 1st confirmed that she wasn’t even certain if she’d ever run for another elected position again, much less the Mayor’s office
Approach and Cycle (Onboarding)
Introduce recruit to “Uprising – A Guide from PortlandIntroduce recruit to “Uprising – A Guide from PortlandFeat. PAC founder Alan Kessler!Presumably, the refers to a podcast hosted by Robert Evans (available here), working with a number of local journalists. I haven’t been able to confirm if there was an episode where Mr. Kessler was interviewed, but if so, it’s still simply another attempt to generate false legitimacy of this group as affiliation with the recall PAC.
Invite to Mutual-Aid events or projects for action on-rampingInvite to Mutual-Aid events or projects for action on-rampingOn the surface, mutual aid is completely innocuous. It’s simply groups of like-minded people working together to provide for a need in the community. This is one of the few things I have no refutation for, mostly because there’s no clear detail about ‘on-ramping’
Establish a self-righteous crusaders mindsetExplain anarcho-egalitarianism to recruitThe repeated use of ‘recruit’ in these flyers, as well as the choice of text in the May flier are both reinforcing the highly evocative imagery of a ideological, almost religious war, against those who don’t agree with your view. While there’s no ready definition for ‘anarcho-egalitarianism’ to look at the words individually, it would suggest a political philosophy that prioritizes social equality for all people, but doing it without any political authority. Personally, I would normally question how this would work without abuse by those who wish to consolidate power for themselves, but the ‘lack of political authority’ portion is weakened as we go further through the document.
Introduce doctrines justifying destruction such as:
Why Break Windows?
People Over Property
Eat the Rich
Recommend radical doctrines:
Why Break Windows?
People Over Property
Eat the Rich
The premise is watered down to introducing these doctrines, presumably because even the writer knows that trying to justify property destruction in the recall narrative will work against their goals. Listing them here does not imply that I agree with any of these doctrines.
All systems are racist and must be destroyedAll police and justice systems are racist and must be destroyedThe limiting of the detail from ‘all systems’ to ‘all police and justice systems’ seems to, again, be an attempt to make the flyer more palatable, as well as framing the conversation solely from a ‘recall the Mayor to fix the police’ narrative.
Introduce to firearms training and convince recruit to purchase firearmsIntroduce to firearms training and convince recruit to purchase firearmsOn the surface, this is in line with the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution, which would be fine. The reference to ‘recruit’ again could be used to imply building an unregulated militia, which is something that is not allowed under state constitution.
Approach and Cycle (Action)Some editing is done in this section because bullet points were moved around, so trying to link them as closely as possible
Training in direct action black bloc activities, queues [sic] and verbal commandsTraining in direct action black bloc activities, queues and verbal commandsBlack bloc has been used as a defensive tactic to help prevent retaliation by government or non-government actors for protected political views. It has also been used to obscure the identities of people engaging in extralegal activities. Not all black bloc is bad, but like most things, it can be misused.
Overburden existing police and fire resources. Misdirect and coordinate actions against a variety of targets.Overburden existing police and fire resources. Misdirect and coordinate actions against a variety of targets.These are tactics that have been used to effect in protests over the last year, where police, focused on a planned protest at one location, had no idea that, for instance, a police storage lot was broken into and police vehicles vandalized. Misuse of a tactic like this would, however, interfere with services that could be needed to save lives that have nothing to do with this movement, such as the two alarm fire in Portland that recently took several lives.
Militarize defensive fortifications against police evictions or homeless sweepsMilitarize defensive fortifications against police evictions or homeless sweepsThis is a difficult situation. Evictions and homeless sweeps are almost guaranteed to become a large problem without significant legislative work to address, but the images evoked by this language reminds me of the issues that arose out of the occupation around Red House last summer, and may directly lead to casualities.
Attend a protest in black bloc. Chant away being a citizen and become a subject. Be water.Attend a protest in black bloc. Chant away being a citizen and become a subject. Be water.Attending a protest in bloc is concise, and I see no issue with it. Being water, especially in regards to movements when police attempt to break up protests, is non-violent and very useful. The phrase ‘chant away being a citizen and become a subject’ is something that honestly confuses me. If someone can explain it better, feel free to reach out to me.
Confront, block or assault anyone with a camera. We have our own press.Confront, block or assault anyone with a camera. We have our own press. No police body cameras!The addition of body cameras to the language is likely related to a proposal for Portland Police to wear body cameras, with the union being in control of the footage, giving the appearance it’s less for police accountability and more for police propaganda.

The claims that the group has it’s own press, with no indication of who such press are, suggests that it’s less ‘press’ and more ‘propaganda’. Considering there is an entire propaganda section to come reinforces the idea.

And of course, assaulting someone simply for having a camera is a crime. Police have been assaulting enough press already, do we really need protesters doing it too?
Do not comply with police, and flee and de-bloc only when safe and out of sightDo not comply with police, and flee and de-bloc only when safe and out of sightThis has appeared to be a standard suggested practice during protests, in large parts because of suggestions that police dispersals have, in a number of cases, been of questionable legality to begin with.
Approach and Cycle (Propaganda)More editing to align bullet points properly
Only photograph police, never the protestersOnly photograph police, never the protestersTwo points:
1) That’s generally been what has happened with protest documentations already, as the focus has been on police brutality.
2) This seems to run counter to the ‘confront, block, or assault anyone with a camera’ claim before. Are cameras okay as long as they’re pointed at police? Or is this only for their ‘approved’ press?
Dehumanize the police as bloodthirsty demonsDehumanize the police as bloodthirsty demons; never speak of reformation. Return Satan’s works to SatanThe reintroduction of Judeochristian religious iconography after the ‘crusade’ reference was removed before is odd. I’m not sure what to make of it.
Reformation versus abolishment has been an ongoing ideological debate, but it’s been clear that this group has always been fully on the abolish side of the debate.
Weaponize homeless as victims of State cruelty and never mention rehabilitation, only freedomWeaponize homeless as victims of State cruelty and never mention rehabilitation, only freedomI was homeless. My circumstances were only marginally a result of state actions, much less cruelty.
The reasons that an individual may be unhoused is as unique as the individual involved. Depending on the circumstances, rehabilitation may be a useful tool to allow a person to reach social equality (an egalitarian principle), while ‘only freedom’ is an incomplete description that does little to explain what you wish to see for the homeless.
Either way, to use the homeless community as a weapon, or a tool, for your own purposes, presumably without asking their permission or input, is to me morally reprehensible and repugnant. Tell their stories individually instead. Let the world see how the current system is failing them that way.
Label moderate opposition as fascist or racist.Label moderate or liberal opposition as fascist or racistI guess I’m fascist then. Whoops. It’s easy to see the shift to further extremism here, and this is the exact rhetoric that outlets like OAN, Fox News, and Andy Ngo will use to claim that ‘the left’ just calls everyone they don’t agree with those words. It’s a trope, and you’re showing your hand.
Editorialize lawsuits against police and weakening qualified immunity so further resources can be extractedEditorialize lawsuits against police and weakening qualified immunity so further resources can be extractedI’ve already addressed how qualified immunity is a legislative function that needs to be addressed in Salem or Washington DC, not in Portland. Editorializing lawsuits only shows your bias, and trying to ‘extract resources’ will likely be financial settlements out of the city’s General Fund, which may cause an increase in property taxes or reduction in other services. It’s a double edged sword in that it may cause others to decry ‘wasteful spending’ due to a bad city department.
Use these propaganda techniques to accept foreign and domestic donations and re-invest in recruitmentUse these propaganda techniques to accept foreign and domestic donations and re-invest in recruitmentIf this organization is to be taken seriously, this goal, along with current political climates in Washington, may draw increased attention to them that they really don’t want, in the form of FBI investigations. The end of the July flyer includes Bitcoin and Ethereum wallet addresses, which are also on their first Tweet from their account. As confirmed by other Twitter users, at this time neither the Bitcoin nor the Etherium wallets have had any transactions at this time

And of course, I apologize for how long that was, but there was a -lot- of information to go through. All of this is also working under the presumption that this is a genuine group, with almost everyone that I’ve interacted with believing this is actually a far-right troll, a law enforcement honeypot, or a PR stunt staged to suppress turnout on the signature gathering stage of the recall petition. No matter if it’s real or not, the idea that no one has refuted any of their points is simply not true.

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Editorial

A word on Mike, Alan and Chandler

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I was criticized in private by a member of the community for daring to use Mike Reinoehl and Alan Swinney in the same tweet as an example of how the justice system uses and hides charging documents (indictments and warrants) in certain cases.

The claim was that I was comparing the two directly, and I want to make it unequivocally clear: I do not see them as the same.

Two of the three people are alt-right associated by their actions and affiliations, one was a leftist activist. Mike and Alan were at ideologically different sides of the spectrum. The only thing these three have in common is that they are, at the time of writing, all innocent.

In our justice system, people are innocent until proven guilty by a jury of their peers. Yes, people outside of court will say “so and so is guilty”, but saying it doesn’t make it so in a legal perspective unless they plead guilty or a jury says they are.

Alan Swinney and Chandler Pappas have not pled guilty to any of their charges. Thus they are innocent.

Mike Reinoehl did not plead guilty, so when he was gunned down by federally deputized law enforcement, he was an innocent man.

The differences between these is the charges were Mike could have had a case for self defense. He never got to bring that up. The DA dismissed the charges against Mike after his death. He died an innocent man.

Alan Swinney and Chandler Pappas are still alive. Their fate will be decided by a jury of their peers, in the due course of time.

Mike should have gotten that opportunity.

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Campaign Reform

Total Recall 2021

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Photo of Portland City Hall, first and second floor windows boarded up

Newly seated Portland Commissioner Dan Ryan ran on a platform of that included divesting the Portland Police of more of it’s budget, stating “We have to find ways to follow up on the $15 million cuts to the Portland Police budget with even more substantial cuts.” On the night of October 28th, protesters, angry about months of increased police violence, gathered at his house ahead of a city budget meeting to make their voices heard about why these cuts were so necessary. The night before the vote, he stated that he wasn’t sure how he wanted to vote. The next day, after hours of passionate testimony by his stakeholders, he, along with Mayor Wheeler, voted to delay the budget vote for a week.

A week which would take us past the election, and give both the sitting mayor and the commissioner a sense of how the council would look in the 2021 legislative future.

Of course, the city spoke, overwhelmingly supporting 26-217, the measure to rewrite the city charter to massively expand the civilian oversight over the Portland Police. They also barely re-elected Ted Wheeler, and elected Mingus Mapps over Chloe Eudaly to the city council. And in the following week’s budget vote, any thought of further stripping of Portland Police funding was quietly scrapped.

Commissioner Ryan quickly showed his unwillingness to stand up for his campaign promises with his statement at the vote:

This $18 million proposal is a threat to our current public safety.

Commissioner Dan Ryan, November 5, 2020 City Council

I feel that Commissioner Hardesty summed things up best when she said:

I knew that when we were passing [city council] resolutions in June that Black lives wouldn’t matter long […] It is disappointing that the status quo will reassert itself in this process. So we’ll continue to talk about Black lives but we won’t actually do anything to make these Black lives better

Commissioner JoAnn Hardesty, November 5, 2020 City Council

These statements have served to re-engage a number of protesters and police reform/abolitionist activists. While the election may be over, there are still options. Recall campaigns can be run after a candidate has been in office for 6 months. That timer has already started for Commissioner Ryan, and Mayor Wheeler’s will start in January when his second term starts.

Local lawyer and transparency activist Alan Kessler has already filed the paperwork for a PAC specifically to start that exploration process. The PAC, named Total Recall, likely after the 1990 and 2012 movies by the same name, recently received approval by the Secretary of State’s office and Mr. Kessler has announced via Twitter:

I have started the PAC to start fundraising. I do not have organizational capacity beyond that for a little while.

Alan Kessler (@alankesslr), November 6, 2020 Twitter

Raindrop Works has had a working relationship with Mr. Kessler for some time now, and we’re glad to help get information out about this campaign as time goes.

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