In the months leading up to the 2020 presidential election, Portland made national news with nightly social justice protests, often met with violent response by counter protestors and law enforcement. Though frequently regarded as a progressive hub, Portland has a long history of racial inequality and oppression, and the city's entrenched divisions gained new attention during the Trump years. The photographs in Protest City present a visceral visual record of this significant moment in Portland's history.
Rian Dundon, who has been photographing the rise of extreme politics on the West Coast since 2016, lived only a short walk from the protests that erupted after the murder of George Floyd. For one hundred days, Dundon enmeshed himself in the demonstrations with an unobtrusive point-and-shoot camera. The result is a graphic portrayal of how social movements become politicized, how spectacle serves as a subtext to change in the digital age, and how modern protests blur distinctions among performance, ritual, and surveillance. As he follows the progress of Portland's conflicts, Dundon draws connections to Oregon's legacy as a stronghold of white supremacist extremism and interrogates the role of whiteness in racial justice movements.
Dundon's striking photos recreate the immediacy and impact of the protests, while a foreword by journalist Donnell Alexander and introduction by historian Carmen P. Thompson contextualize the uprising's sociopolitical background. A chronology and author's note are also featured.
The publisher and author would like to thank the Magnum Foundation, Documentary Arts, and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project for their generous support of this publication. Additional funding has been provided by Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund.