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Sunday, Dec. 16th 2001 - The Earth Spun Backward

The Sunday, December 16th March Against U.S. Imperialism couldn't have been less typical ...
True it was just a march, and there have been other marches that equaled or surpassed it in planning, exuberance, attendance and political significance. But, in this climate it was an anomaly. It was even a marked aberration from the pre-911 world as we knew it.

First - What TV and newspaper coverage was there was fairly even, demurring from the usual head-nodding and ultimate good-citizen-sitting-at-home-proxy role of ignoring the underlying message and blandly criticizing anything that disrupts the consumer path.

Second - I'm cautious in admitting this, but for once I think the Oregonian *over*- represented the number of march attendees. I'd really like to think there were 500 but suspect there were not.

Third - For once, "peace officers" did not outnumber protestors.

Fourth - "Peace officers" actually seemed to keep their peace this time. No broken bones - yippee!

Fifth - There was no parade permit, but the march was not stopped.

Sixth - The route circumnavigated somewhat randomly through busy parts of downtown, but the march was not stopped.

Seventh - There was a symbolic re-enactment of what Bush and his cronies are actually doing to the Real American Flag. And, the march went on. Without broken bones.

Eighth - Marchers proceeded through Pioneer Place, vocally disrupting shopping and some waking dreams. But, on the way out, at least one protestor reported having a door opened for her by an older man whom she had tried to help shepherd his elderly mother through the jostling crowd. He smiled. She smiled.

Ninth - Though there were a number of people that argued loudly and with varying degrees of eloquence against the march and the ideas behind it, a variety of co-shoppers expressed sideline solidarity with protestors, verbally and with smiles, upward-turned thumbs, and steadily-held-frontward-turned fists in the air.

Tenth - When squad cars and riot cops started pursuing and surrounding protestors, a number of other video cameras appeared. People stopped. They looked. They witnessed. They filmed. Who were shoppers a minute before were active citizens in that moment. As the riot cops ran in a line up Morrison and started turning on 6th toward activists, an apparently middle-aged, middle-class woman, standing with an older woman outside Meier & Frank started shouting at them, "Stop it. Don't touch them. LEAVE THEM ALONE." Not hysterically. Resolutely. She repeated, "Leave them ALONE. Don't touch them. Leave them alone." And, hers wasn't the only voice.

Eleventh - The only arrest reported is an as-yet-unverified detention of a person WHO WAS HARRASSING THE ACTIVISTS.

A word of warning to local activists: do not under any circumstances get used to this. Just enjoy that it happened once.

To those of you who attended, supported from the sidelines, wished well and spoke up when the riot-gear arrived: God bless you all of you. And have a happy holiday.
r 19.Dec.2001 19:15

r

hells yes