BREAKING NEWS: Activists March in Downtown Portland
By TERESA BELL, ABE ESTIMADA and JIM PARKER, kgw.com Staff
Hundreds of activists are marching in downtown Portland, protesting President Bush's Oregon visit.
The activity stirred up just moments after President Bush touched down at the Portland International Airport at 3 p.m. when protestors began marching from Portland's North Park Blocks to Burnside and on to Pioneer Courthouse Square. At 3:20 p.m., they headed west on Yamhill and on to SW 9th Avenue, eventually circling the downtown Hilton, where Bush is schedule to stay overnight.
They were loud, but peaceful -- beating drums, chanting "beat back Bush's war" and carrying signs that read things like: "Clear Cut the Bush Regime," "Free Palestine" and "No More Bush Wars!"
The protest grew in size as activists marched toward Portland's Pioneer Square. (KGW Photo)
The marchers were causing some traffic delays, but police were not interfering -- only following cautiously from close behind. An army helicopter also hovered overhead. Some officers on bikes were mingling with the marchers.
Other Protests Today:
One environmental activist set up a tree-sit in downtown Portland to protest Bush's call for preventing wildfires through increased logging in the nation's forests.
The activists said they'll march as close as they can get to the downtown Hilton, where Bush will be hosting a fund-raising dinner for U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith. Portland police roped off that area and said it will remain closed from noon Thursday until 9 a.m. Friday.
The groups said they're concerned about the Bush proposal involving federal land management that would increase logging as well as the U.S. government's plans involving Iraq. Others were there to express their disapproval of everything from the administration's welfare reform act to its rocky relationships with unions.
"We are urgently protesting Bush's rush to escalate the current attacks on Iraq into an all-out war," Dr. Catherine Thomasson of Physicians for Social Responsibility said in a prepared statement. "The priority for U.S. policy should be to work within the UN framework to return weapons inspectors to Iraq, as this strategy offers the best hope for detecting and destroying weapons of mass destruction."
The environmental groups involved in Thursday's protest believe the Bush administration is promoting misinformation about forest fires. They claim the government is trying to capitalize on Oregon's wildfires to promote logging and benefit timber industry campaign contributors.
"Bush's latest proposals to 'streamline' environmental laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act and to subsidize fuel reduction projects with logging mature and old forests will only increase fire risks while providing taxpayer subsidized logs to the timber industry," Cascadia Forest Alliance volunteer Carrie Taylor said in a prepared statement.
The Portland demonstrations came on the heels of protests in Central Point, Squires Peak and Medford, where Bush spoke about plans to increase forest logging in the hopes of reducing wildfire threats.
Protest signs in Central Point. (KGW Photo)
In Central Point, the picketers gathered with signs outside the Jackson County Fairgrounds. The signs attacked Bush on the environment and international policies.
Protesters also had gathered in the morning on the mountain road leading to Squires Peak. "More forest, less Bush," read one sign.
In addition, protesters turned out at the Medford airport in Southern Oregon for the president's arrival and departure.