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actions & protests | police / legal a22: bush protest

A Brief Confrontation

My account of the police attack on peaceful protestors Aug. 22, 2002 in downtown Portland. The clash at 5th & Taylor is bound to go down in the annals of landmark Stumptown protests.
A Brief Confrontation
by Lawrence J. Maushard

(Portland, OR August 22, 2002) -- Both sides got what they were looking for Thursday afternoon at the anti-Bush protests outside the downtown Hilton.

In a narrow stretch of Taylor between Fifth and Sixth avenues hundreds of packed-in demonstrators shouted their disapproval of administration policies -- everything from the looming attack on Iraq to corporate takeover of US politics -- until unprovoked riot police were given orders to clear the street. They pepper sprayed and baton charged protestors back on their heels several hundred feet to the nearest intersection.

"Go Home Bush! Go Home Bush!"

No life-threatening injuries were apparent but scores of protestors suffered inflamed eyes, nostrils and throats from the spray. And several protestors suffered leg wounds when they were shot at close range by police firing beanbag shotgun rounds. Many injured received makeshift relief from bystanders using water bottles to flush out the irritants. Inside the Hilton President Bush carried on as guest of honor at a GOP $1,000 a plate fundraiser primarily to benefit incumbent Oregon Senator Gordon Smith in his campaign for re-election this fall.

"No More Corporate War! No More Corporate War!"

The one-sided clash between riot police in black battle uniforms, full body padding, helmets and gas masks and the peaceful sign waving protestors lasted no more than a few minutes. First, a police official speaking through a nearly inaudible bullhorn warned the crowd that an "emergency" had been declared. The melee began when one 30ish woman standing at the police barricade was grabbed and ruffed up by several cops. She offered no resistance.

"Fascist George! Bush Sucks!"

The line of riot police then moved forcefully into the crowd, one officer letting loose with a torrent of pepper spray that washed over everyone in his path. Another officer literally threw himself into the crowd like a defensive lineman charging toward an unprotected quarterback. Individual protestors scrambled wildly to escape the burning spray whose residue eventually wafted over the entire block. However, most of the crowd stood their ground and only gave way as the advancing police line reached their individual positions.

"We're Paying Your Salary! Why Are You Doing This?!"

When the protestors had been forced back to the intersection, two squad cars with lights flashing drove straight into the crowd. The first one was immediately swarmed over by protestors with no other choice. They started slamming on the car hood and top forcing it to stop. Seeing their colleagues trapped by the crowd which had nowhere to go, police from the barricade line quickly moved in and fired beanbag rounds and what sounded like concussion grenades that scattered the car bashers and freed up their motorized comrades.

"Peaceful Protest! Peaceful Protest!"

The intersection stayed jammed with protestors but they now backed away from face-to-face taunting with the front line police. Organized chants had all died away now except for individual rants. Most of the protestors were either tending to themselves or assisting others.

"Water! Does Anyone Have Water Here!"

In addition to the prominence the local television and newspaper reports gave the protests, video of the police attacks made the intros to all three network morning programs. The anti-Bush protestors succeeded in making public, however fleeting, their strong opposition to government policies. The government and police in turn had a quick victory in easily routing the street demonstrators who were in no mood yet for pitched street battles.

(photo by LJM)

homepage: homepage: http://www.maushard.net
phone: phone: 503-238-6605
address: address: SE Portland

good posting 23.Aug.2002 11:47


thanks for your account, although I'm not sure all the protestors got what they were looking for.

I finally see what happened there.

3000 people altogether 23.Aug.2002 12:53


collected estimates of from various reports have what is currently estimated at a total of 3000 people. Since all the people were never congregated in one place, it is hard to make an exact count, however, it is believed that 3000 is a solid number.

Way to go Portland!

Crowd-busting tactics 23.Aug.2002 14:51


I saw this tactic used on Capitol Hill in Seattle as well. The Seattle PD drove a squad car (I believe a Ford Ranger)into the middle of an otherwise peaceful crowd that was grouped in an intersection. When the surrounding people (who barely had enough time to keep from getting run over) got pissed off and pounded on the car, cops in riot gear jumped out of a waiting van and began shooting tear gas into the crowd, and chasing down people who ran off to escape the fumes. There was no announced warning or any other attempt to get the crowd to disperse peacefully.

The press release on the City of Seattle website the next day (signed by then-mayor Paul Schell) stated that the crowd had "set upon" and attacked the patrol car, and that the tactics had been necessary to rescue the officers trapped in the crowd.

I find it interesting, but not surprising, to hear of this tactic used in other cities. I wish I could have caught it on video so I could confront the city with their lies.

have to dispel the myth 23.Aug.2002 14:55


actually, not all of the "protestors" were peaceful, in fact alot of them blatantly attacked police barricades, forcing the police to respond violently. I am also in full support of the attack by the demonstrators for many reasons which i will not disclose here....
also, to answer the people's question: "we are paying your salary, why are you doing this?" well....why do you think? ever think that maybe the sole role of the police, as directed by capital powers, is to protect CAPITAL POWERS?
To think that the police are here to serve the interests of any class under upper-middle is absurd. The police are soldiers of the juggernaut, paid to enforce its violence. So thats why people lash out at it. LEGITIMATELY.

"cop car surrounded" tactic 24.Aug.2002 10:16


yep, the same tactic was used in DC last september at the ACC march.

a cop car that was 'leading' at the front of the march stopped moving and allowed itself to be surrounded by the crowd. as soon as people starting spitting on it, banging the hood, etc. the police felt justified to go into riot mode and pepper spray flew, motorcycles charged through the march, splitting the crowd, batons pushed people around, and general confusion ensued. meanwhile the car sped forward out of the crowd unharmed.

this is a good thing to be prepared for. what should we do in such a situation? are the cops really trying to bait us into 'giving them a reason'? and should we?

Poignent Account of Iron Fisted Police 29.Aug.2002 14:53

Doctor Coda dcodanyc@aol.com

Mr. Maushard's account of the brutality and carnage that took place during the President's visit was a hard hitting piece that the consumer media didn't have the guts to run, let alone the national media. Why was this event shoved under the carpet by the national media, other than brief mention in the NY Times that the President encountered the most protestors he has seen since Sept. 11. Thank you Mr. Maushard for putting us there. I am an unabashed fan, and have been following your journalistic career for years. I loved your book, Made In Managua -- where can I purchase several copies. I lost my original and would like to share the work with friends. Thanks.