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Nov-05-2012 18:18TweetFollow @OregonNews
Civil Disobedience Turned Violent and Serious in Portland SaturdayTim King Salem-News.com
Many were pepper sprayed. Critics of law enforcement violence said the aggressive tactics of police toward peaceful occupy demonstrators would lead to this...
(PORTLAND, OR) - Oregonians are faced with diminishing opportunities and the choices for president are thin and grim.
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 Salem-News.com 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: http://www.portlandonline.com/
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.
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.
Special thanks to Salem-News.com's Jerry Freeman
Americans, write to your political reps:
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 Salem-News.com'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.
Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from traditional mainstream news agencies like The Associated Press and Electronic Media Association; he also holds awards from the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs; and was presented with a 'Good Neighbor Award' for his reporting, by the The Red Cross.
Tim's years as a Human Rights reporter have taken on many dimensions; he has rallied for a long list of cultures and populations and continues to every day, with a strong and direct concentration on the 2009 Genocide of Tamil Hindus and Christians in Sri Lanka. As a result of his long list of reports exposing war crimes against Tamil people, Tim was invited to be the keynote speaker at the FeTNA (Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America) Conference in Baltimore, in July 2012. This is the largest annual gathering of North American Tamils; Tim addressed more than 3000 people and was presented with a traditional Sri Lanka ‘blessed garland’ and a shawl as per the tradition and custom of Tamil Nadu
In a personal capacity, Tim has written 2,026 articles as of March 2012 for Salem-News.com since the new format designed by Matt Lintz was launched in December, 2005. Serving readers with news from all over the globe, Tim's life is literally encircled by the endless news flow published by Salem-News.com, where more than 100 writers contribute stories from 23+ countries and regions.
Tim specializes in writing about political and military developments worldwide; and maintains that the label 'terrorist' is ill placed in many cases; specifically with the LTTE Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, where it was used as an excuse to slaughter people by the tens of thousands; and in Gaza, where a trapped population lives at the mercy of Israel's destructive military war crime grinder. At the center of all of this, Tim pays extremely close attention to the safety and welfare of journalists worldwide. You can write to Tim at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Tim's Facebook page (facebook.com/TimKing.Reporter)
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