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Dispatch 3: Return to America: Primitive Graffiti in Portland

9th Amendment

When you are assessing the situation in your area, Watch the Graffiti. Make photographs. Remember what you can. Valuable.

As I travel through America, I will make thousands of photos of graffiti. Watch for patterns.

Example: if I see certain graffiti in Seattle, and then see same again in DC, but nowhere else, that can be a clue.

Don’t just walk by graffiti. That’s like walking past the prints and poo on the jungle floor without stopping when you are tiger hunting.

Often I just photograph close and also establishing shots for later study.

In this case, I stopped here in Portland to photograph. This fellow quickly arrived and started talking about 9th Amendment, and Veteran issues. He was aggressive, erratic, rambling like the graffiti. He began to read for me. Unfortunately, I did not think to ask if he wrote this.

Bottom line: this is just near the Federal Courthouse that has been attacked for about 100 days. Many police casualties.

This scribbling is par for the base-level art and messaging in the area. This area has the most primitive protest-graffiti I have seen in my years of war and conflict, including hundreds of violent protests, some far more violent than here.

The finest messaging I have seen has been Hong Kong, and Thailand. You knew exactly what they wanted. Specifically. Not some general ramble or idea like “justice,” or “black lives matter,” or “anti-fascist.” In Hong Kong, as example, it was FIVE DEMANDS NOT ONE LESS. And they would list those specific demands. Clear, concise, and memorable. Bite sized for meme-ability.

bikini hong kong protest graffiti art

The image of the bikini woman was typical Hong Kong protest art. Every tiny piece of that image tells a story that if you were there, you would follow and understand. I was there for six months of fighting until the communists kicked me out. And so I can explain this image top to bottom. Yet the art is so good that if you were not there, it still tells the story.

I watched many live stream videos of the fighting in Portland before I got here. I still have little idea what they want after watching for several months. In Thailand or Hong Kong, you’d know specifics in 5-10 minutes.

In 2020, I have not seen a single person analyse this graffiti. If you have, Please leave a comment. I want to see their findings and opinions.

Also, PLEASE SHARE these posts to social media and contacts. My work will improve quickly as my context develops. Takes time, but this is not my first rodeo and so I launch quickly like an F-16. I know what I am searching for. Signal to noise.

Michael Yon

Michael Yon is America's most experienced combat correspondent. He has traveled or worked in 82 countries, including various wars and conflicts.

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