Oregon Live - April 16, 2020
"About 10 regular volunteers work four 4-6 hours a day in what they’re calling the “Q Lab.” Everyone wears protective face coverings – there’s no shortage of those among the antifa movement – and tries to keep their distance."
Popular Mobilization, or PopMob, is probably best known by Portlanders for their counter protest activities against right-wing groups. They drew headlines most recently for their 2019 milkshake party, after Portland police tweeted a claim that some of the milkshakes contained concrete – a claim PopMob disputes and which ultimately had no evidence.
Now, the collective of activists and anti-fascists has moved from making vegan milkshakes to hand sanitizer.
PopMob members, with the help of the Rosehip Medic Collective, have produced more than 9,500 bottles, or about 225 gallons, of homemade hand sanitizer to distribute to frontline workers and helpers, and homeless residents. They’ve got a small assembly line of volunteers, working six days a week at donated space in the Q Center in North Portland, mixing and bottling the product.
Effie Baum, a spokesperson for PopMob, said free bottles have been distributed to groups such as Sisters of the Road, Outside In, Meals on Wheels, Portland People’s Outreach Project and VOZ Workers’ Rights Education Project. Bottles have also been given to TriMet drivers, delivery workers, domestic violence shelters and individuals doing outreach work, Baum said.
“It is actually quite a bit of a side-step from our usual mission,” Baum said. “However, as we’ve seen with this pandemic, everybody has had to make really drastic changes in their life ... and for PopMob, what we normally do isn’t feasible. We are very active about being anti-fascist and encouraging people to be everyday anti-fascists, and a big part of anti-fascism is community defense and supporting your community. This was a way to provide supplies to communities who had no other way of getting them.”
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to fight the spread of disease, some populations – such as mobile workers or unhoused residents – don’t readily have access to those things. When soap isn’t available, the CDC recommends hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.