Whose Streets? Our Streets. Portland Anarchists Will Fix Your Potholes

Whose Streets? Our Streets. Portland Anarchists Will Fix Your Potholes

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To the challenge oft posed by skeptics of anarchism - 'But who will fix the roads?' - the crews of tar-hauling, mask-wearing, civic-minded denizens of Portland Anarchist Road Care (PARC) have the (duh) answer: We will. Citing the importance of "community oriented direct action" and the "gross negligence" of an Oregon state apparatus that "cares more about funding a militarized police force to suppress free speech" than patching holes deadly to cars and bikes, they've taken on the task themselves. In February, following a brutal Oregon winter that trashed many roads, the anarchists began researching road repair online and mobilizing crews "to patch our streets, build community and continue to find solutions to community problems outside of the state." On their Facebook page, they note each day's "successful preliminary action."

Alas, city officialdom is less than pleased with the anarchists' smash-the-state-and-fix-the-roads approach, arguing they're on the case with a Patch-A-Thon and besides it's "a really bad idea for people to do this type of thing - it's unsafe (to) be working in the streets with traffic." Because this is Portland, others argue everyone should "learn to love" potholes, slow down already, and walk or bike. But most people have applauded PARC's insistence that anarchists do more than smash windows, and their manifesto promise of "building community solutions to the issues we face." On their Facebook page, people have chimed in with proposed pothole sites, arguments for and against safety vests, and spirited debates about free market capitalism, harm reduction models and the efficacy of cold patch vs. hot asphalt repair methods. As to disapproving officialdom, says one PARC member, "Their condemnation is meaningless."

"We don’t think the city should exist," he says. “We aren’t asking permission, because these are our streets. They belong to the people of Portland, and the people of Portland will fix them.”

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