Dear sweet readers:
MAY 29: That was the day the Mercury started covering the Portland protests against police brutality against Black Americans. At that point, we had no idea that 17 days later our staff of four editorial employees would still be doing daily coverage of these protests—an average of six to eight hours per night, following a nine hour day of regular day-time reporting.
We'd grab catnaps when we could, before packing up our COVID-19 masks, hand sanitizer, maybe a sandwich if we had time, and then rush out the door to march four miles along with east side protesters, listen to an hour of truly inspirational speeches, and then rush off again to the Justice Center where we would stand (sometimes in the rain) and monitor the situation as righteously indignant protesters screamed for the justice that this building was named for. Then, invariably, the cops would lose their patience, shooting tear gas, pepper balls, and various other munitions over (and sometimes at) our heads as they brusquely shoved the crowd and the press out of the downtown corridor. There were variations of course, but all in all? Rinse and repeat. For 17 nights.
After about a week and a half of this, of working night and day, ignoring our families and health, we brought in some freelance help—the amazing Tuck Woodstock, Sergio Olmos, Suzette Smith, and Andrew Jankowski—who really saved our bacon for the past two weeks... though at least two Mercury employees out of four total were still on duty every single night.
And the funny thing about it (and there isn't much) is that, as physically exhausting as it is, we see this situation as our Super Bowl. The Mercury has been all about police accountability from day one in 2000—so of course we were going to push ourselves to the limit. This is not just "in our wheelhouse," it is our wheelhouse.
That said, the human body and mind can only take so much. While we grew as a team, the result of our exhaustion was taking a toll on our daily, non-protest related coverage (which is just as important) as well as our families.
That's why we made the decision this past weekend that it's time for us to take a break—a decision that was not entered into lightly at all. But facts were facts: not only was our exhaustion peaking, our freelance budget was practically drained. A change had to be made.
So! That very long explanation brings us to where we are now. While the Mercury will still be assigning a person per night to monitor the various protests and marches around town every day, we won't be sending a reporter out at night unless the situation warrants it—but if it does, we absolutely will be ready to go. We'll also be doing a full court press on extra large and notable events, such as the Juneteenth rallies this weekend. But we hope you understand, as important as this moment in time is to all of us, in order for us to protect you, we also have to protect ourselves.
However, if you do depend on our nightly coverage and want to help, there's certainly a way for you to do that. Donate to the Portland Mercury, preferably with a recurring donation. It's very simple: The money you've given us so far funded the freelancers that has helped us hold Portland police accountable for their actions over the last two weeks. We will continue pushing ourselves to the brink for you. If you want to help us do that, please donate so we can get the help we need to do the job you want.
You have been so generous, and your donations and well wishes have been so thoughtful and special to us. We want to do the best we can for Portland, and we will continue to do so until we can't anymore. Thanks for thinking of us.
Wm. Steven Humphrey