Portland’s Smollett Syndrome: String Of MAGA Attacks Reported But Evidence Is Missing
Many members of Portland’s queer community are feeling on edge after a week of widely shared social media reports of anti-LGBTQ violence in the area.
Posts first started circulating early last week, after a transgender woman was allegedly assaulted in the Buckman neighborhood of Southeast Portland during the early morning hours of Sunday, Feb 10. According to a press release the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) put out today, the woman reported her assault after being transported to a hospital that day.
The woman started a GoFundMe page to help pay her medical bills after the attack, and a police report obtained by the Mercury confirms details listed on the GoFundMe—including that she suffered injuries on her hands and elbows.
The woman declined an interview with the Mercury at this time.
(The Mercury isn’t naming the woman or linking to the page out of respect for her privacy.)
Over the course of the last week, stories of several other alleged attacks have begun circulating on social media. Cameron Whitten, executive director of the Q Center, said he’s been notified of at least three other incidents against LGBTQ people that have taken place since that weekend.
One widely-circulated social media post alleges that on Sunday, Feb. 17, two men driving a red Bronco near Southeast 7th and Madison yelled slurs at a queer woman who was walking to her car and threw a full beer can at her, leaving her face bruised.
The Mercury has seen photos and social media posts about this incident and others, but has not received confirmation or additional details from the survivors or from PPB. However, the fact that such reports are circulating—some of them including photos of injuries allegedly sustained from the attacks—is certainly enough to set Portland’s queer community on edge.
Whitten said the Q Center has received many calls in the last week from LGBTQ people worried about their safety.
“It’s been a challenge,” Whitten said. “This is all coming by surprise, and everyone’s really feeling hurt.”
In its press release, PPB said it has not received any reports of possible bias crimes in the last week, but that it is aware of the social media posts and “has proactively reached out to community stakeholders to brief them on what we have learned, and to encourage any victims or witnesses to contact law enforcement.”
There are also similar accounts on the Portland State University student newspaper website, the Oregonian newspaper, KATU news, and even national news sites such as Daily Beast, LGBTQ Nation, and Gay Star News.
There’s just one Jussie Smollett covfefe sized problem with these reports: It appears as though they are all just hoaxes.
Local journalist Andy Ngo has penned a story for the New York Post, chronicling these alleged attacks and trying to source factual information. He’s discovering that there isn’t any. All of these accounts of attacks against trans and queer communities in Portland are based off of “someone said it on the internet” hearsay. This seems to be rooted in some kind of internal fear, as Ngo writes “In progressive Portland where the “#Resistance” is mainstream, stories like Stanford’s feed into a whisper campaign of violent homophobes, transphobes and racists lurking on every corner. A moral panic had now been ignited.”
Are LGBT people being beaten nearly to death & even killed on the streets of Portland in unprovoked attacks? Or are we actually being hoaxed? I dig into the story behind Portland’s latest moral panic blaming Trump supporters for a rash of hate crimes: https://t.co/ThGfhdLUAC
— Andy Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) March 30, 2019
In his story, Ngo focuses on two of the more well-known alleged attacks, and finds a lack of evidence to support any of them. When he asked the victims of these for information or if they want to do a sit-down interview, they just tell Ngo off. When looking over police reports, Ngo notes that not only is there a lack of anything that points to these attacks being at the hands of neo nazi Trump supporters, but one report seems to point to the alleged victim being drunk and falling down on the sidewalk, then having to make up a story to save face.
Within days, the number of alleged hate attacks ballooned through uncorroborated and vague online rumors. These stories were then amplified by progressive media, nonprofit groups, businesses and politicians. Activists, driven by their own personal grievances, then launched a crusade to find the phantom suspects, doxing and targeting innocent people in the process.
Some of these people have starting removing their posts alleging these attacks, as they have apparently been caught lying about it.
Innocent people are now being doxxed, with their pictures and personal information being distributed online, resulting in continued threats and harassment.
Those who spread the rumors were cheered for bringing “awareness” to LGBT issues. Lost in all this was any concern for the people victimized in the process.
One of the men who says he was falsely accused in the panic is Robert Zerfing, a 35-year-old Battle Ground, Wash., resident. He used to attend conservative rallies in the Portland area but has since renounced the Proud Boys for their involvement in brawls.
Jenny Bruso claimed that her partner’s attackers drove a maroon Bronco or Suburban. Doxers identified that Zerfing owned a maroon SUV and used that as evidence he was involved in the attack even though that car was repossessed three months ago. He showed me one of the many death threats he now receives.
“I guess we will find out when we pay that address a visit,” the text reads. “4 hate crimes in the last week you were involved in. Paybacks a bitch mother f–ker.”
In a never-ending effort to pursue the truth, Ngo reached out to local media that covered these stories, asking them if they verified any of these claims and, if so, what information was uncovered. Ngo was quickly discounted and given the cold shoulder.
The Portland Mercury published multiple stories and printed a claim from a woman who alleged via email that she was the victim of a brutal gay bashing in downtown Portland. (The article does not cite any records and I could find no corroborating evidence that this happened as described.)
When I asked reporter Blair Stenvick what steps she took to independently verify that allegation, she said: “I’m not interested in discussing this with you.” Portland Mercury’s news editor, Alex Zielinski, also declined to comment on my inquiry. The paper’s reports were widely shared and used to legitimize the panic.
Far left antifa apologists at the Portland Mercury are doubling down on their promotion of fake news:
Interested in learning why some LGBTQ Portlanders don’t report crimes against them to the police? Skip this harmful, solution-less clickbait and read @BlairStenvick’s important coverage: https://t.co/LiPXdKA4b1 https://t.co/uoicW5BR0c
— Alex Zielinski (@alex_zee) March 30, 2019
So why go through all this trouble and make up these stories? One can only assume is that they simply want to maintain their victim status by trying to paint Trump supporters as the bad guys. Even in progressive Portland, where the LGBTQ+ crowd rules the city.