The weekly anti-war rally in Portland's Pioneer Square was marred by a violent visit from four Homeland Security agents. Wearing shirts and hats that were clearly labeled, "Homeland Security", they set upon a solitary protester approaching the rally, and then attempted to break up the rally itself. |
The man who was attacked first was carrying a sign that said, "War kills children". He was walking up the sidewalk on the south side of Broadway when he was picked out by a Homeland Security agent on reconnaissance there.
Within seconds, three agents emerged from behind a Subway? kiosk, and grabbed the man's sign.
They forced him to the ground and put him into a hold.
When asked for an official statement, the recon agent replied, "Officially, this didn't happen," turned, and goose-stepped away.
A few minutes later, an activist was delivering an anti-war oratory before a gathering of about two dozen like-minded citizens when the agents struck again. Without warning they penetrated the crowd from all directions, pushing their way to the front where they attempted to remove the speaker. Being outnumbered, they were forced into defensive positions, and an argument broke out.
"It's not safe to have gatherings like this on the street," said one of the agents. "However, it's not safe to stay home, either. We're here to protect you."
Recon man then held up a pad of paper and a pen. "Now if you'll all please sign this, and print your Social Security number on it, you'll make everything easier for yourselves."
Unexpectedly, the Homeland Security agents were forced to back down by a member of the private security firm that polices Pioneer Square. A guard named "Houston" broke up the conflict by threatening to charge everyone with "disorderly conduct".
When asked what actions are grounds for that offense, he told this reporter that any behavior that "alarms three or more other people" is legal grounds for that charge. That a rent-a-cop would outrank four Homeland Security agents seems odd; the White House must still be working the kinks out of this new gig.
This reporter was not able to identify the at-least three people who were alarmed by the drama and required Houston's intervention to return the Square to to its usually safe, tidy, and commercial state. However, one of them might have been a woman seen speaking to Houston immediately before he approached the group who seemed to believe that the Homeland Security agents were actually anti-war protesters themselves who were using creativity to criticize the increasingly oppressive policies of the Bush Administration that have been assaulting Constitutionally-guaranteed civil liberties.
After the incident, activists wondered out loud about what other types of behavior might be "alarming to three or more people" and should hence be stopped. The huge American? flag on the Nordstrom's? building above the Square that seems so reminiscent of Germany in the 1930's? The presence of a Subway? kiosk there? Wars that kill children?
This reporter's suggestion: Come to Pioneer Square next Friday at 5:00. Who knows what kind of "alarming" event could happen then, but you won't want to miss it!