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Nov-05-2012 18:18printcomments

Civil Disobedience Turned Violent and Serious in Portland Saturday

Many were pepper sprayed. Critics of law enforcement violence said the aggressive tactics of police toward peaceful occupy demonstrators would lead to this...

3 Nov clashes in Portland Oregon between anti-austerity demonstrators and police
Stills from YouTube videos

(PORTLAND, OR) - Oregonians are faced with diminishing opportunities and the choices for president are thin and grim.

Many of the officer's problems seemed
connected to their desire to not part with
their bicycles; perhaps easier on foot...

They range between the corporate Barack Obama who signed the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) into law, allowing Americans to be held indefinitely without charges, and a right wing contender named Romney; a quintessential stereotype republican willing to say absolutely anything to get elected.

All the while money dominates everything; Americans are shown presidential coverage throughout the day as people die in third world countries from starvation and war. Little do they hear about the crimes of mass murder against people in places like Burma and Sri Lanka, Rwanda, the Congo, Palestine and Balochistan.

Unless they visit regularly, Americans know nothing about the state of this world and the progress being made and lost in real terms. They know almost nothing about the pillaging interests of American business and politicians or the real ambitions of profit and war. The U.S. news channels and papers keep people informed, but also uninformed because news media is corporate and heavily guided and controlled. I mean we should face it, indirectly or directly, reporters today and their respective news agencies almost always have to squash truth to gain advertising.

The old saying, 'The rich get richer and the poor get poorer,' was never more true than today and it is against this backdrop that Oregon citizens clashed with police Saturday in Portland in an anti-austerity march.

The position of the police is that public assembly of this type is dangerous and surely it is, for the protestors, not so much for the police in nearly ever case.

Portland Police wrote in a statement released today, Monday, November 5, 2012:

Portland Police Bureau is releasing some video from Saturday's demonstration march in Northeast Portland. During this march, there was one arrest and several ramming device/shields seized by officers. Officers used pepper spray during a violent struggle with demonstrators, who were ramming police officers on bicycles.

Americans have been severely injured speaking out during Occupy Wall Street protests all over the country and police have not received reported injuries that amount to anything, that I know of. It is no wonder when you look at the way the ones in black dress too, with motorcycle helmets and big weapons.

According to Portland Police, their best attempts to reach the group organizing the event failed:

In the weeks leading up to this event, the Police Bureau attempted to contact event organizers to discuss the intent of the march and to ensure that the event would be peaceful. No organizers or responsible parties responded to these requests.

The group that organized the event, the Portland Action Lab, responded to this by stating:

Portland Police later issued a press release claiming attempts to contact organizers weeks before the event. The Portland Action Lab, the organizing body for this event was never contacted by the police regarding a permit. Either the police did not utilize the clear and established channels of contact with PAL (our email address is public), attempt contact in person at the fully public meetings where the event was organized, or are simply being dishonest as to justify the use of force after the fact.

This group does not agree that free speech involves a permit. They say that Americans have to push hard right now to maintain their most precious rights which are being literally stripped by executive order. The group encourages the police to show evidence they tried to but failed to make contact.

We invite the PPB to release evidence of their attempts to contact us and steadfastly declare that there is never a justification for the police to use violence against peaceful demonstrators. It’s unconscionable that a bureau that is under investigation by the Justice Department for civil rights abuses still behaves this way with the cameras on.

Portland Police say it should be clear that "free speech events" do not require a permit; but, marches or demonstrations occurring in public streets that restrict movement of other community members do require a permit issued by the City of Portland. They say permits for events such as this are easily obtained from the City of Portland by clicking this link:

Banner from the anti-austerity demonstration

OregonLive published an article about the clashes Saturday:

The roughly 300-person rally against funding cuts to social and public services was mostly peaceful, but ended up with 20 people pepper-sprayed and one demonstrator arrested after police stopped the marchers from making a left turn onto a street in the Lloyd District.

The newspaper interviewed Nicholas Caleb, a spokesperson for the group in Saturday's rally, which is considered an 'offshoot' of Occupy Portland.

Caleb said, "We keep running into this realization that the police are going to use force on us whenever we're in the streets."

After the event was over, the Portland Action Lab released a statement:

Today, a coalition of labor, education, anti-war, and community organizations took to the streets to protest against national, state, and local austerity measures that seek to put the burden of the financial crisis on the working class with budget cuts and the privatization of our social and public services. The demonstration was organized closely to the election to oppose the bipartisan ‘grand bargain’ that will require $4 trillion in cuts. The demonstrators came with the clear message that the wealthy elite responsible for this crisis should pay for it and that we also need to look to our communities to organize support and solutions. We estimate that about 1000 demonstrators were in the streets at the peak of the day of action and energy was consistently positive throughout.

Youtube failure - video no longer available

In their version of the story, Portland Police offer an extremely different set of details regarding the event:

In past events of an unpermitted nature, demonstrators have been found to have stockpiled fireworks, metal poles and built shields to directly resist the police and at times take direct action against law enforcement as well as inflict damage to community businesses.

The Portland Action Lab listed information about the demonstration on their Website:

“Our dreams don’t fit in their ballot boxes”

On November 3rd the Portland Action Lab invites all people to mobilize, march, and take direct action against austerity. Corporations control our governments, hoard wealth, privatize our community resources, and burden us with enormous debt — This is AUSTERITY and we say Enough is Enough!

We resist 1% austerity budgets at all levels, creating massive cuts to education, healthcare, and other social services. Our power is in our neighborhoods, building alternatives, and taking to the streets! Let the wealthy and corporations pay for the crisis they created. No matter who is elected, we are part of building a movement where our communities will make our own decisions and control our own resources. On November 3rd, we vote with our feet!

Portland Police explained in their news release:

On Saturday, prior to the march, Portland Police officers contacted individuals associated with the march in Holladay Park. Police offered to issue a permit and asked for route information. Both requests by police were denied by event organizers. One ramming device/shield was seized at Holladay Park as part of the ongoing investigation into the ramming of police officers and Multnomah County Sheriff's Office deputies in Southeast Portland earlier in the week.

When the Occupy Movement began, Portland's police officers were credited with better than average behavior. However over time it became worse. In Saturday's event, the march departed Holladay Park and went into the street westbound on Northeast Multnomah Street. Portland Police Bureau says they exercised discretion and allowed the marchers to take the street.

The police agency reported:

The march continued northbound on 9th Avenue then turned eastbound on Halsey Street, with police officers facilitating the movement of the march. As the march moved eastbound on Halsey, demonstrators brought out additional ramming devices/shields and moved them to the front of the march.

The story changes considerably at this point according to Nicholas Caleb and the Portland Action Lab:

Police had an early presence at the event, confiscating two banners that they claimed were “under investigation” when there were only a few dozen people at Holladay Park. During the march, the police indiscriminately pepper sprayed the front of the protest when it tried to turn North on 14th St., accusing demonstrators of using their banners as “shields”. Many people were pepper sprayed, including a group of high school students that were out protesting against cuts to education. Overall, it appears that around 25 people were sprayed in the eyes and received first aid from other protesters. A police van with riot police hitched to the outside would later pass by the group of recovering protesters and wave mockingly at the group.

Frame from 1:40 in the video shows banner with handles referenced by
police. One second before this shot, it is clearly shown that police knocked
over their own bicycle with the same sign taken from demonstrators.

Portland Police say that when the march reached Northeast 14th Avenue, they turned northbound in a coordinated movement to directly confront a line of police officers.

The officers were there to restrict a northbound turn on 14th as police did not want the demonstration march to get to Northeast Weidler and/or Broadway, which had much more vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The demonstrators had a clear path to march eastbound on Halsey Street.

The demonstrators were seen putting on masks and/or goggles and multiple rows of people began using the shields to ram at the line of bicycle officers. It was during this ramming, that pepper spray was deployed by officers, targeted directly at the people in the front of the line that were ramming the police officers.

Portland Police claim that multiple officers were knocked off their bikes as the ramming continued, adding however that they were able to pull the ramming devices away from the demonstrators and drag them away. Protestors suggest noting that had the police not attempted to block, direct and overly control their public gathering, they would never have had a problem.

The police say the ramming device/shields are specifically built and designed to be used to take direct offensive action against police. There are multiple handles installed on the back, that allow for multiple people to hold and control the device. However protestors say that is absolutely not the purpose, they say the banners need handles to be carried and displayed and they say any person who has ever attempted to carry a banner knows this.

Police say one man, 44-year-old Johnny Christopher Wells, ran behind the line and grabbed a police bicycle and started to run away northbound. Officers caught up to him within a few feet, "and the man swung the bike" at officers, they stated in their press release. The officers were able to grab the man and the bike and take him into custody.

Wells was charged with Robbery in the Third Degree, Attempted Assault on a Public Safety Officer, Attempted Theft in the Second Degree, Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree, Interfering with a Police Officer, Resisting Arrest, and Theft in the Second Degree.

Portland Police say the incident will be thoroughly reviewed and investigated to ensure that Portland Police Bureau policies and procedures were followed.

In their concluding statement, the Portland Action Lab wrote that victims of the day’s police brutality are encouraged to submit complaints to the city. They will be gathering footage of these incidents to submit to federal agencies and the media. They say political speech is a fundamental right and they will continue to fight for it.

“Despite police confrontations, the day of action succeeded in its aims of communicating that we do not consent to coming austerity programs,” said Michel Losier of Portland Action Lab. “The 1% must pay for the crisis that they created.”

Occupy Portland does not make reference to the event on their Website.


Occupy Portland spinoff group protests use of pepper spray at protest - OregonLive

Portland Action Lab

Solidarity Against Austerity Nov 3 Strike

Special thanks to's Jerry Freeman

Americans, write to your political reps:

Find Your Representative - U.S. House of Representatives

Contact US Senators - U.S. Senate


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Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. Tim is's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine who follows stories of Marines and Marine Veterans; he's covered British Royal Marines and in Iraq, Tim embedded with the same unit he served with in the 1980's.

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Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Anonymous November 7, 2012 2:40 am (Pacific time)

For what do we have the National Guard? Send them out and kick these low lives apart, lock them up and throw away the key. I can't believe that my hard earned tax dollars being thrown away like this. How much is that joke going to cost the tax payers? These low lives will not pay a penny.

Editor: Oregonians whether serving their nation in the Guard or protesting unfair laws, are one thing.  You I think, are the one who needs to be locked up.

Anonymous November 6, 2012 2:14 pm (Pacific time)

The protests tomorrow will be something else when the lazies see the handouts coming to an end. Maybe some will actually go try to be productive citizens? Here in Ohio, reports seem to be everywhere of the Chick Filet voter turnout. Long lines. Many retirees and veterans wearing their different memorbillia. This might may be huge! We voted this morning and the line was out the door and around the building. I’ve never seen that before. Just drove back by there at about 3:00 and the line is still out the door with many people just now showing up. Romney/Ryan signs all over, not one Obama/Biden sign. This is a college area, and saw no large groups of college kids like in 2008. Maybe they looked at the record of the last four years, not the rhetorical hustle? This is not the norm. This is Chick-Fil-A. Go America.

Anonymous November 6, 2012 9:11 am (Pacific time)

Back in the no-nonsense period in Portland before zionist racist's like Goldshmidt, Vera Katz (typical Brooklyn jewess dirtbag) and feckless leaders like Clark and others, we had mayors like Terry Shrunk who addressed violent misbehavior like the draft-dodging hippies and anarchists of the 60's/70's. They learned that when they violate the 1st Amendment, there are serious consequences. It's amazing to me the cowards out there who write about these current criminal clowns from the safety of their keyboards. Why not go join them. If any of you criminally violate my rights you will see just how intense I can be. You will pay, and in time these current criminals will be "gone" because they will act out with deadly force in time, may Tim King be with them and start firing his mouth off and criminally assault authorities. Tim King is a coward as are all of you wimps on the left. Just watch how these criminals will be eventually dealt with. I am all for peaceful protests, but when you violate the law, or associate with those that do in these gatherings, then take the responsibility. I hope all these anarchist have a very violent conclusion, all of them.

Tim King: Yeah I'm really scared, trembling in my boots.  You on the other hand don't even list your name, some conviction you have you little antisemite.  And for the critics who hate our reports on Israeli war crimes; this clown seems isan anti-semite, there are some out there

Douglas Benson November 6, 2012 7:19 am (Pacific time)

Free speach is not free if you have to ask permission. Let me guess ,there are fees ,and someone has to sign on the line so that the government has somebody to charge ect . Protesters get a clue and show up armed .The tea party shows up armed ,and guess what .They dont get abused. The claim that shields are an offensive weapon is false on its face. Then there is the question of why were there 150 riot police waiting for the protesters. Get a clue ! Protests will be met with force so come ready to do battle with police if you choose to participate. Soon they will make wearing masks ,bringing shields ,ect. a crime . If protesters want to shut down the entire city by marching in the streets as far as I am concerned that should be thier right .

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