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Nov-16-2008 13:16printcommentsVideo

Oregon Guard Soldier Joins Capitol War Protest (VIDEO)

An Oregon Guard soldier joins the 24-hour vigil protesting a deployment to Iraq in 2009.
Photo and video by Tim King

(SALEM, Ore.) - An Oregon woman protesting a national guard deployment to the Iraq War was arrested Friday night by Oregon state troopers. Political activist Michele Darr of Corvallis is no stranger to capitol demonstrations; she spent months outside the capitol in protest of the Iraq War in 2003.

Advocates taking part in the vigil and fast say Michele Darr's Civil Rights were violated when she was arrested, and Saturday the list of advocates on the capitol steps grew to include an Oregon soldier who is part of the scheduled deployment.

"They showed us their building policy that indicates that between the hours of 11:00 PM and 7:00 AM, the building is closed to the public," Darr said.

But an assembling group of attorneys like former Salem Mayor Mike Swaim and Elizabeth Baker, say the state law flies in the face of civil rights granted by federal law.

News of the arrest prompted Richard Portelli, a soldier in the Oregon Guard, to join Darr's cause.

"Everything I've heard from other soldiers who have been over there is that it's a really terrible thing, and they have stretches of road they patrol where there are bombs, and they are patrolling them because there are bombs there and the bombs are there because we're patrolling them; it all seems very weird to me." Portelli said.

Attorneys say the state law that allow police to arrest Darr conflicts with federal laws that grant the public, rights to access public property.

Darr believes the Governor could take steps to keep the soldiers in Oregon. Legislation has also been drafted that could keep the troops home, but at this point Darr has been told there will be no word on that until January at the earliest.

"They are already preparing the early members of the deployment, and all of these families are waiting to find out what will happen, all of this just before the holiday season," Darr said.

Michele Darr's dedication to what she is doing seems immense, and she says Oregon's soldiers deserve better in her opiniom, than to be sent on another yearlong deployment to Iraq. She says people like Private Richard Portelli are stepping forward to join her, and she hopes Oregon's elected officials are listening.


Produced by Tim King

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as's Executive News Editor.
Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 in Afghanistan with Oregon troops. Tim recently returned from Iraq where he covered the war there while embedded with an Oregon Guard aviation unit. Serving the community in very real terms, is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators.
You can send Tim an email at this address:

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Henry Ruark November 22, 2008 3:16 pm (Pacific time)

Friend Rich: May be lack of coffee, not sure I entirely understand yours. NO, do not have fullscale solid numbers to which you refer. Yrs by honest contact may be better than what I now know. Re rest, agree at leat 98%, maybe more if I read you right. Yr honest, open, civil words here (most of time !) truly appreciated, and add to what we can share-and-learn by honest demo-dialog as meant in this unique S-N channel, with only good faith and mutual seeking for truth demanded. Often find mine own views in change-process, as with Korten note elsewhere, and also with two others: SUPERCAPITALISM by Robt. Reich, and The Elite Rich, not at hand for writers but by prestigious national management association AMACOM. Last one makes strong case for solid change in tax patterns; seek it out to see which-way !

Henry Ruark November 22, 2008 11:21 am (Pacific time)

to all: Comment herewith labeled incomplete missing earlier part. For the record referred to three-hour conversation with bridagider general re client involved in complex departure from service. Contact made via DC friends and completed per this report. Cited here due to points made in other Comments re UMCJ, as clarified by this incident.

Rich November 22, 2008 9:48 am (Pacific time)

Henry R do you have the current demographic breakdown of our military and their individual casualty rate? That would be the gold standard to establish your point about any particular harm happening to minorities in my opinion. Note: I am a combat veteran and keep in contact with many that I served with, and they are of all races and ethnic backgrounds. From my small sample, most of these men have done well in life and though we all have some problems (who doesn't), our military experience helped us a lot in dealing with life's obstacles. You find bigots in all races, when you count the hostile acts between the different races, whose got the highest count?

Henry Ruark November 21, 2008 1:15 pm (Pacific time)

(Incomplete, sent inadvertently so here's rest.) He and I went round-and-round, but reached friendly consensus and he did precisely as he promised to facilitate,ease and SECURE SAFE return to jurisdiction for my client. True story, shared for any value it may have for others re value of ethical, honest dialog with military leader. We flew youngster home First Class when he was rapidly released.

Henry Ruark November 21, 2008 1:07 pm (Pacific time)

PS: for the record, two of my 3 yrs service in War II was served directly in contact with recruiting --at Maine high schools, with fighter pilot "Southern boy" as our show piece. My replacement was 6'10" m/sgt. of color, making for interesting future for biased "Southern boy" still assigned. Inevitable discussion with the recruits taught me much. Their main reason was NOT patriotic endeavor --which I value,trust and honor since one grandson and another half-g/son are now both currently serving, the latter "on the hunt" for you-know-who in Afg.--so I am sensitized to the patriotic motive. Even then in War II, in much less painful economy, most were signing up as path to some security and to benefits expected at war's end...which developed into GI Bill on which I personally went on to grad school and beyond. SO, friend, I see you and now raise you, too.Nobody rational puts down that fine American patriotic drive, but that's simply not the realistic motive for actual millions now in service, mostly from both minority and color contingents, which was point of thread here, at least for me... facts being that much more powerful than feelings, even "patriotism" in any of its many guises.

PS November 21, 2008 8:36 am (Pacific time)

Recruits are informed of what happens to their Constitution and (Bill) of Rights when they enter the military. People enter the military for a variety of reasons, and many come not only from different racial/ethnic/educational backgrounds but also diff. socio-economic backgrounds. We have been on a war-footing for many years now, so those recruits (and re-enlistees) "should" know that they could easily be put into harms way. Military personnel are trained in the liabilities of violating military protocol which includes the UCMJ. I would never underestimate the fact that many enter the service for patriotic reasons. Many people obviously find that aspect quite alien to their value system. Dissent in the military comes with severe penalties, so you better have all your ducks in a row before you engage in it.

Henry Ruark November 18, 2008 12:29 pm (Pacific time)

P.Sanchez: Yours continues to emphasize dangers for dissent in the military. But never is there any mention whatsoever of the notoriously distorted line of information passed out by heavy recruitment of minority, black and other citizens seeking a refuge from economic, social and cultural pressures in the service sanctuary now well recognized by informed and authoritative sources. Nobody doubts the muscle ready for rapid application in any such cases as you mention. But it is disgraceful, disheartening and deeply immoral for recruitment to be allowed to avoid this issue. All such efforts should make abundantly clear to those who must join what it is they surrender and the reasons why, with all reasonable information clarifying the exact situation for those who may otherwise be dangerously accepted. Prevention is always highly preferable to punishment, for solid human reasons as well as for commonsense efficiency and effectiveness.

Percy Sanchez November 18, 2008 11:21 am (Pacific time)

EDITOR: You would be surprised how many former JAG officers are involved in many other professions, including writing. You are absolutely correct that the UCMJ is speciailized, but most any attorney can come up to speed and adequately represent a military client. It is done thousands of times every year. Officers in the military, for example company commanders (usually a captain, but sometimes a 1st Lt.) are trained on a very superfical level on the UCMJ so they can enforce lower level sanctions for misbehaving military personnel such as reducing rank and giving limited fines. If possible confinement is a potential penalty it is moved out of the company commanders jurisdiction. My below comments were about the trouble people often get into when they take the advice of the uninformed who like to prance around that they are informed. In civilian life they usually go by the moniker: Jailhouse Lawyers. It is always prudent to seek out the advice of a professional. One of my below comments dealt with the "free speech (1st Amendment) that does not really exist when one is in the military and many civilians are uninformed about that reality. Also when it comes to questioning what one may consider to be an "illegal order", you better fully understand the gravity of not obeying an order, military stockades/prisons have been full of people who made this mistake, often I'm afraid to say, because they have been goaded by amateurs who like to think they know all about the UCMJ. It is also constantly evolving like its civilian couterpart, thus one needs to be constantly updated before providing legal advice. I have not offered any advice in this matter other than seeking out an updated professional for counsel.

Henry Ruark November 18, 2008 10:52 am (Pacific time)

To all: Sanchez wrote: "that conservative you seem to have a real Jones for, Michele Malkin, guess where her relatives are from?" For the record, what I shared here re Malkin is the evaluations summarized from three different nationally recognized major journalism reference sites re her revealed bent-and-bias in publication from her syndicate, itself known to be funded and supported by that group once known as "conservative", but now only a remnant of that honest if misdirected political group. Also for the record, I have no knowledge of her ancestry, and find that reference a further offensive allegation, to which I offer what my old Dad taught me: "Deny the allegation and defy the alligator" --and he did NOT misspell "alligator", meant to characterize dweller in musty, murky swamp where the perverted waters make real vision an impossibility. Re coded-words alleging Far Left attack on nation,with no proof or link or documentation whatsoever, that's musty, murky old-stuff propaganda pandering to neocon purposes via appeal-to-fear, familiar with roots of Iraq War sold by lying/marketing to naive and apathetic nation by Bush cabal and now costing trillions and buckets of young blood. What's patriotic about such continued perverted attack ? Who is damaging democracy here and why is it done ? Thinking readers will make their own evaluation with their own minds, perhaps aided at times by S-N reports and links to reliable, checkable sources. That's what responsible and accountable public-record documented reporters DO, ever since Ben Franklin and Thomas Paine and many others began the tradition of dissent and responsible continuing dialog. Please note they never hesitated to identify and thus define themselves and to sign what they wrote so all knew from whence it came.

Henry Ruark November 18, 2008 10:27 am (Pacific time)

Sanchez: Bigwords,large claims, but no ID to check for proof of any claimed background or other documentation. There's a word for that, too, known to all persistent reporters aiming at arrogant, offensive distortions meant to misinform and mislead others. It starts with hy, has po as middle and ends with -crite. Re ref. to Korten for you, he spent more than 30 years in your country-named and the region,serving international agencies, and provides the profound factual background you obviously lack and need --which is why I chose it to share with you. Unavailing, it seems, since you find yourself now reduced to personal attack, usual pattern here with those who talkbig but can produce no proof of anything DONE or of special preparation. For all, what's occurred here is example of revealing power of dialog when applied openly, honestly, democratically, for sharing/learning purposes. Did you learn ? I did, and not only about futility of fair and honest treatment given to anyone, the S-N pattern. That is role of any rough/cut reporter seeking to force to surface the ongoing malign manipulations of some who misunderstand what real democracy offers and the inevitable responsibilities it also requires of its citizens. The Founders set the standard in their Federalist Papers, which makes a great read these days for any of our thinking readers.

Sanchez November 18, 2008 9:39 am (Pacific time)

HR, so during WWII sounds like you were not in a JAG unit. Were you an officer/NCO trained in the UCMJ? Or were you some type of non-combat clerical specialist or something similar? Are you a trained para-legal? You sure seem to have a lot of insight into the UCMJ ( a revolving/growing system just like it's civilian counterpart). Sounds like you were not someone who had a commission that ran a combat platoon, then an infantry company and proceeded to have actual field experience in enforcing the UCMJ in a combat environment, correct? I was born in America as were my paternal great-great grandparents, and I also have many relatives in the Philippines. My historical background between our two countries is immense. By the way, that conservative you seem to have a real Jones for, Michele Malkin, guess where her relatives are from? America is made up of many different people and that is what allows us to be such a magnificent country. Unfortunately there are those far left radicals who simply want to destroy us. From my observations over the years these domestic haters of America usually have pressing personal issues that they simply cannot resolve so they strike out in whatever way they can. They are easily recognized by me, my accumulative background has provided me with that ability. I feel a responsibility to expose these people who want to harm my country and distort our history. Certainly you cannot hold that against me?!

Editor: Sir, you do not disclose so much as a first name, so running through your list of WWII credentials seems like a moot point.  Hank has been reporting news since before WWII and he speaks with great authority on many subjects as many reporters do.  Very, very few people have any real familiarity with the UCMJ; it is an extremely specialized field.  It would not be reasonable or prudent to expect that a writer would have been a JAG officer.

Henry Ruark November 18, 2008 8:26 am (Pacific time)

Sanchez: Again,bigwords but no common sense nor simple civil ID. You wrote:"how the 1st Amendment works while in the military. So many don't, but those who never spent anytime in combat don't know what that's all about either. It appears many also don't know very much about basic constitutional law." Re 1st A. in military, spent three years as communications tech/sgt., dealt with precise interpretation of such problem situations for both courts martial and civil proceedings, among other assignments. What's your working experience on which to base allegations, alligator ? Re constitutional law, we see no ID from you nor evidence you ever opened a law-book or listened to a single law guru in class or group-work. So ? Re school civics, yours shows appalling ignorance of where curriculum is made and tested and then applied, with state control a major feature. Helped do just that for some years -where's your worktime on the problem you discuss ? SO you continue to dig deeper the desperate demonstration of your own bias and denial of the realities of the real world. Were you educated in America ? If NOT, the serious missing pieces may be explainable. Have you served in our armed forces, about which you speak so surely ? If NOT -- !!?? Where's yours re legal bcgrnd and advanced study ? Name the institution, date the degree, for checkout here. Others are on public record; why should yours be hidden, if they exist at all ? IF you claim knowledge rather than ephemeral "cut-and-paste" copy from easily-accessed and very political-pander sources, speak up and reveal self via ID OR be disregarded as one more confused alligator living in polluted and murky swamp of self-satisfaction. Confusing personal biased feeling with opinion worth expression is unmistakable symptom of basic arrogance and denial of ID when sought is further proof of something to hide. Both are neocon symptom. Failure to provide supporting source when sought is proof that only bigwords exist,worth no attention from any serious reader seeking to learn and share on open, honest, democratic dialog channel.

David November 18, 2008 8:00 am (Pacific time)

Richard Portelli is not deploying with the Oregon National Guard. The newspaper should fact check.

Bill November 18, 2008 6:43 am (Pacific time)

This dummy hasn't figured out that the gov hasn't been in the capital since the fire 6 months ago. She might try ACTUALLY FINDING the Governor? What a maroon.

Vic November 18, 2008 6:07 am (Pacific time)

MrD...maybe you should take some English classes. You sound like an illiterate idiot. Questions are usually followed by a question mark, and "america" is usually capitalized. The soldiers raise THEIR right hand, not there right hand.What a moron! I can see that you would never make it in the real world. Idiots like you give all service men and women a bad name.

Arnieosp November 18, 2008 12:00 am (Pacific time)

Bombs? Nobody told me anything about the bombs. I signed up for the National Guard because I wanted the free digital camera the recruiter told me I was going to get. Now they want me to go to war? That's not fair! Bombs? I want out!!!

just me November 17, 2008 8:50 pm (Pacific time)

I personally don't want to go to war with this guy. He only thinks about himself, not the troops who are waiting to come home from a tour of duty. Shame on this guy.

Mr. D November 17, 2008 3:59 pm (Pacific time)

Why is it that they always find the biggest idiot to interview. Portelli is just a private and has never been deployed so how does he know what it is like over there. The war in Iraq is always changing. He said he was talking to a fellow soldier about a incident that happened. Guess what the situation has changed since then. Also does this soldier even know what his mission is going to be or anyone's mission is going to be.I'm tired of hearing soliers whining about having to go overseas to do a job that they volinteered for. Guess what all soldiers have a chance to be deployed the national guard makes up over 50% of the armed forces in this great nation you don't hear avtive duty soldiers whining or complaining on tv about going overseas. All soldiers active or guard raise there right hand infront of the american flag taking an oath. As you can I don't agree with this soldier and guess what I'm a soldier as well and I have been on many deployments since I have been in the guard. I'm not going to say that I am going on this deployment or not that is my business and my famillies. Also does this soldier ever had an opsec brief.

Tim King to Mr. D: Pfc Portelli is the only soldier who joined in this peace vigil, so your opening comment fails to make sense.  Also, this soldier is part of the 41st Brigade Combat Team and they have been selected for a convoy escort assignment in Iraq, which is why he made the statement about trucks patrolling roads for bombs, when the only reason the bombs are there may be because of our presence.  The Iraq War is changing, you are right, things are getting much worse.  No war never meant to be "won" can be won.  Thinking people saw this when Bush first started selfishly and for personal reasons, preparing this mess of a war.  Some people seem to think that a war fought for the wrong reasons should still have some kind of "positive outcome" and that is not possible.  I love our soldiers, and Portelli is among them.  I will go anywhere with these guys and on this night, the assignment was local and very different.  Thanks for your thoughts.

Sanchez November 17, 2008 3:52 pm (Pacific time)

Once again Doug DeMille thanks for your service. That was the basis for my below post, but I'm pretty sure you understand how the 1st Amendment works while in the military. So many don't, but those who never spent anytime in combat don't know what that's all about either. It appears many also don't know very much about basic constitutional law. Our school system should be more competent in designing their lesson plans for elementary civics. I have noticed a limited knowledge on this subject matter in so many people and it appears that age is not a factor, maybe it's a regional thing? Oh well.

Ariel November 17, 2008 2:14 pm (Pacific time)

My question is...why would you enlist in the military in the middle of a war and volunteer to go on a deployment to Iraq, then say that you don't support the war and protest to stay home??

Henry Ruark November 17, 2008 10:24 am (Pacific time)

Sanchez: On what basis of experienc or special training do you speak, sir ? That paste-on mask obscures any relevant credibility you may have had. Nobody has suggested UMCJ came from Founders, and its case law is obviously subordinate to any Constitutional interpretation by the Supremes -where this may well end. Nobody questions "support of the troops", either; but then there's the overriding question of support for that favorite of all of us, the Constitution, too. Which should take precedence here ? Ay, that's the root problem --with dissent as all Founders favored for defense of true democracy surely at stake, at least in the minds of some...which is, after all, their Constitutional right. Yours seems distorted by your already-revealed origin, sir, with no disrespect whatsoever --remember my Filipino buddy at I.U. grad-school ? SO what motivates your own "message", if any there be ? Even G. Washington warned us vs certain forms of seeming patriotism.

Sanchez November 17, 2008 8:46 am (Pacific time)

Doug DeMille you essentially laid it out. Thanks for your service Doug. We are very fortunate that we have the kind of people who understand what duty is and will respond when duty calls. I also would srongly suggest that the interprtation of the UCMJ is not for amateurs, consult a professional when you have a question. Leavenworth(sp?) Prison (and others ) are full of people who listened to the amateurs out there. By the way, the Founding Fathers did not write the UCMJ, and it's case law does not provide for many of the things one finds in the Bill of Rights. Your freedom of speech is quite limited when you are in the military, do not forget that!

Vic and Glenda November 17, 2008 8:20 am (Pacific time)

Looks like they could use some signs...we will donate whatever signage they need. They can contact us at

Major Observation November 16, 2008 10:03 pm (Pacific time)

I think OSP screwed up and that is why there was not a subsequent arrest the next night. Hmmm, will Oregon learn to regret this one? Better yet, will Ted do something monumental and put Oregon back on the map as an innovative state? Oregonians will die in Iraq, yet they probably can serve the people of their state and do more good. Bush is on his way out, let's stop the madness, God bless you Michele! More power to you Richard!

Doug DeMille November 16, 2008 9:53 pm (Pacific time)

The National Guard has a dual role one of which is to protect the state of Oregon and its citizens in times of natural disasters and the likes but its second and just as important role is to support the nation in times when the president calls the troops to active service.When each citizen soider enlist in the Guard They take an oath to such. If they wanted to be not be included they should have joined the sherif vollenteers or cival air patrol or such. They chose to put on the uniform that says U,S. Army on it and follow the lawful orders of those appointed over them. That measn deployment. Darr believes the Governor could take steps to keep the soldiers in Oregon. Quoted form above article. The govenor can do littel once the troops are called to federal orders. They would be nationalized at that point. If the govenor wanted he could pay the total price it cost to run and support a Guatrd unit but he wont abd niether would you. It cost far to much. So the govenor can not and will not step in the way. I spent 21 years in the Air Force and Army Guard. I was deployed many times in both services.. To the first gulf war twice and Bosnia for a year as a Guardsman. I proudly answered every call my country asked and would do so agin if give the oppertunity. Many put on the uniform never planning to be deployed but the reality of today is that many Guardsman will be deployed. If you sign up you must answer up. I support our troops in every ting they do to continue to keep us safe.

Vernon Huffman November 16, 2008 9:32 pm (Pacific time)

Both the state and federal constitutions defend Michele's right to free speech. I don't believe any judge or jury who hears the case will doubt that. Hopefully, the remedy will include some way of training police about the first amendment so they won't make these arrests in the first place.

s. jenika November 16, 2008 4:44 pm (Pacific time)

I am in total support of the Oregon National Guard staying in Oregon to be ready to assist Oregonians in natural/unatural disasters or in times of political/economic strife. This young man is following his head and his heart. Right on!

Henry Ruark November 16, 2008 1:56 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Unavoidable question arises here immediately demanding legal decision re state law as applied. That's why the Constitution places federal above state law and decision, as it must to preserve any semblance of rational, reasonable process. That unquestioned status here reflects once again the strong prescience of the Founding Fathers in creating not only the First Amendment, but the surround and support structure --in and of the Constitution-- to provide practical decision. If the existing body of law, consulted consequentially to these actions in proper lower courts, fails to provide the practical answer, then look for the Supremes to be sought. The Founders saw dissent as an essential element in democracy and so made sure to preserve and protect its rightful use at all times by sensitive, wise inclusion of precisely such process.

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