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Tuesday, Jan. 08, 2002 at 5:07 AM
1000 Protesters from all over the Northwest converge in Portland, Oregon to protest Dubya's foreign and economic policies.
Checked the local paper, "Register Guard" and Portland's paper, "The Oregonian" this morning -- of course, the newspapers are written on Friday, published on Saturday, with only enough space left for Sunday publication of breaking news like the Bush visit, so the coverage was mostly rah rah for Bush and the cheering crowds to whom he spoke (with little mention that they were handpicked!) So, little room left for news of protester side of things. Just brief snippets in the articles. They also made us sound like we had too many agendas .. rather than realizing that there is so much wrong with Bush it's impossible to fit on one protest sign! It takes hundreds or thousands or millions of us, each with a different sign
to point out what needs to change!
Also, check out the fact that our own Senator Wyden and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle are not standing firm against the continued tax cuts. They're all talking about putting aside "politics" and standing together, though the Dems want to sound slightly different so they can win some seats in the next election, so they're against Bush's economic stimulus plan. But don't want to be painted as
increasing taxes. So, they want to be just different enough to unseat a few Republicans. But not different enough to really turn things around. Hello? Is it "politics" to realize that you can't give corporations bailouts and tax cuts and bomb the hell out of Afghanistan AND provide relief for jobless Americans? Where's health care for Americans? Where's a living wage? Do we not deserve these more than the fat cats deserve to have cigars and Lexus cars? I am disgusted with this talk of bi-partisanship. There is only one major party and it is Dem/Rep.
Here's my report from Eugene: Several groups from Eugene, Oregon went to Portland Saturday morning. We met at Irving Park in NE Portland, where hundreds of people from
all walks of life and ages were gathered in the cold drizzle. There were several short speeches from folks from as far away as Seattle, Washington to Medford in southern Oregon.
The Billionaires for Bush showed up -- high on the hillside, dressed in furs and suits, carrying signs such as "Spending Money is Patriotism." (you know they're satire, right?) Shortly after, we hundreds left for Bush's first visit site. Police tried with their yellow bikes to corral us onto sidewalks, but there were too many of us. We swelled into the street, first Fremont, and then Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. We took over one lane of the street. Police kept trying to get us back to the sidewalks, but they gave in eventually to our numbers. We marched and chanted. There were several good chants and some lyrics on handouts, such as "I'm Residential Bush I
am..." sung to the tune of "I'm Henry the Eighth I am" for those who remember Herman's Hermits from the 60s. One I particularly liked was something like this, "Bullshit! Get off it! The cause of war is profits. This recession and inflation are not caused by immigration! Bullshit! Get
off it!" etc. etc. We also shouted, "Drop Bush Not Bombs!" And "1-2-3-4- We don't want your F***ing War!" And "Whose Streets? OUR STREETS!" when police tried to get us out of the streets. It was a good group of people.
Good to get people from all over the region.
The main points I see are:
1. The police set up a large several-block perimeter around the first site for Bush's speech, and we couldn't get near, so he might hear our voices. Also, anyone who lived in that neighborhood was told they couldn't leave their homes -- or else they might not be able to return until much later. Did they do that in the affluent white area? I doubt it. Only to the largely African-American population in NE Portland. Racist shit.
Some protesters tried to get around the police perimeter -- but I heard they were arrested. As we waited for Shrub to arrive, we were given false information that his appearance there was canceled, so we left 20 minutes before he arrived. So he didn't get to see the huge outpouring of dissent for his actions. There were from 500 to 1000 people
there; 1000 or more at the second site, Parkrose High School -- way up in the suburbs.
2. Police turned protesters away from the freeway (I-84)and other avenues to reach the second site. I saw this happening -- people in cars trying to get on I-84 being questioned by police before being allowed to proceed onto the freeway. I had protest signs visible in my hatchback. Doubtful I would have made it onto the freeway. I made a u-turn and took side streets to get to the second site.
3. After Bush left the second site (it was at a high school, and therefore large and no telling which exit he would take), so our numbers were dispersed, so very few of us were able to be there with our signs to let him know that his economic policy is for the rich, not the rest of us.
4. We managed to take the streets on a couple of occasions, and it was heady powerful feeling. The Infernal Noise Brigade was there providing a strong rhythm with wonderfully loud drums, trombones, percussion and singing. (check out their website at www.infernalnoisebrigade.org.)
After Bush left, we continued to dance and fly our signs in the street. But the police soon tired of this, and announced that if we didn't clear the street and disperse, they would begin arresting us. We had learned earlier that they had not only the ubiquitous nightsticks, but also tear gas and rubber bullets. They stood there in rows or riot police, and a couple of rows of horse patrols (which littered the street with horse poop). It was intimidating seeing all those police high up on horseback and the Darth Vader looking riot police with their face shields down, ready for action. They also had plenty of zip ties on their belts, to use as handcuffs. The problem was, they didn't give us a time frame for getting out of the street. At the first site, they had asked us to leave the streets, and told us we had ten minutes. It helps having a time frame, so people who want to get out of the street can make that decision and leave.
But at the second site, they were simply menacing, with no hint of when they might strike. So, some people wanted to stay on the sidewalk to avoid risking arrest, even though our cars were across the street. I looked over my shoulder and saw that behind me were riot police and cops on horses. In front of me were Infernal Noise Brigade and protesters in the street. I didn't want to be in the middle -- and I had the safety of a teenage girl with me to think about, so I rushed us across the street, still not sure if the police would decide to rush after us or not, maybe on their way to arrest those who were still on the streets shouting, "Whose Streets? Our Streets!" They are our streets, but try telling that to a cop on horseback with a nightstick. It was pretty scary. When I checked the Oregonian this morning, I saw a photo of a cop on horseback pushing a guy by his collar to the other side of the street. But I haven't heard any other reports of violence.
5. We did take the streets on several occasions, and the police yielded to us. We were strong, our voices, our messages and our feeling of community. There were people from Seattle, Ashland, Medford, Corvallis, Bend, Eugene, all over the Northwest. We were awesome! I am still frustrated, however, by the fact that Bush is able to insulate himself from the people -- to keep from
hearing our message, which very much needs to be heard.
He would claim, of course, that he needs to be extra careful because of terrorism. I maintain that he is a dictator -- unelected -- and will not listen to anyone. In the Oregonian today, someone in the Parkrose crowd was able to talk to him, and said drilling in ANWR is a bad idea. Bush didn't skip a beat, answering, "Then we'll run out of energy." He's such an idiot; that oil wouldn't even be used for the U.S. I liked it when one person at the high school yelled out, "We're not letting him come out until he finishes high school!" So apt.
Oh, also, I carried a corporate flag available from Adbusters. Instead of stars in the left corner, there are logos of corporations. I had added in plastic letters, "Denying Liberty and Justice For All." Many people asked about it. So, I want to make sure people have their address. I think the flags are about . www.adbusters.org or https://secure.adbusters.org/orders/
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