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Letters to the Editor: Portland’s ‘Naked Athena’ is the hero our wounded country needs now

A woman who has come to be known as "Naked Athena" confronts militarized federal agents in Portland, Ore., on July 18.
(Dave Killen / Oregonian)

To the editor: The photo of an unarmed woman sitting on a Portland, Ore., street staring at the decidedly uninvited federal agents as they fired pepper balls at other protesters was striking.

The heavily armed federal officers wore camouflage fatigues. The woman wore nothing but a stocking cap and a facial covering. Amid a raging pandemic, her mask presented the most powerful and important image of an intensely contentious moment.

During a year filled with devastating infections and deaths, it is inspiring to see a most unlikely but indeed courageous hero on an American street.

Arnold Friedman, Sherman Oaks

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To the editor: Please, more reporting on Portland.

I have been stunned by what I have seen. A line of women proclaiming themselves to be moms, including at least one heavily pregnant woman, were attacked with gas and smoke by unidentifiable camo-wearing thugs on the streets of an American city.

When I saw the “Naked Athena” appear, I realized something profound was happening. She is aptly named for the warrior goddess of ancient Greece.

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But even more than that, when she took that iconic pose (thank you for printing it) I saw a mortal woman go full goddess: life, death, life. For a moment, the forces of destruction were abashed.

May the Mother of All keep her safe.

Sheila Cassidy Federman, Ventura

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To the editor: Why is the L.A. Times trying to glamorize a naked female sitting in the middle of a road in Portland? The Times should view this as beyond shameful conduct.

That quote from the McCarthy hearings comes to mind: “Have you no decency?”

Marcus Kourtjian, Northridge

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To the editor: I read with deep concern about the violence perpetrated by federal law enforcement agencies against peaceful protesters in Portland. I read with hope that Oregon’s Atty. Gen. Ellen Rosenblum is filing suit against the relevant federal agencies.

All governors and attorneys general should join in that suit. At a time when so many of us joined together to protest the horrific violence perpetrated by some racist police officers against people of color, I find myself outraged and terrified that there hasn’t yet been a national outcry when our federal “law enforcement” agencies have unlawfully escalated the violence against protesters.

I am also inspired by the vulnerability of a woman, the “Naked Athena,” to try and stop the horrific violence. All of us need to stand against what brings to mind the fascist acts against citizens in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

We can’t let Portland stand alone now. These are moral national issues, and we can’t let the federal government forces divide and conquer us, picking off one city at a time. If this can happen in Portland, it can happen anywhere.

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Grace Dyrness, Altadena


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