Never before have I been so irritated with the mainstream media. I honestly do not think that I can believe anything reported by the 3 major networks or NPR/OPB.
Yesterday the pResident visited my city. At a protest in downtown Portland, I witnessed several instances of completely unnecessary police brutality. The police used slow release tear gas, pepper spray, their clubs, and rubber bullets to manipulate the crowd. The crowd was PEACEFUL, simply attempting to exercise the 1st Amendment rights to which we are all entitled. The riot cops arbitrarily moved baracades to push back the crowd (with no explanation for doing so) and then later let the crowd into the same areas from which the police had previously prohibited entrance. To accomplish this innane movement of the crowd, the police declared a "state of emergency," which as far as I can tell equates to martial law. After declaring a "state of emergency" and announcing that we were to clear out of the block (this message having been broadcast on a not very effective PA, meaning many people could not hear or understand the demands) the police let loose with loads of pepper spray.
Earlier in the day, friends and I had the misfortune of being separated from the larger group of protesters as the police corralled our small group of about 150 people toward the entrance of the Morrison bridge. At this point we were surrounded by cops on all sides. There was nowhere we could go, and fucking AP reports that the protesters were blocking the entrance to the bridge. We had been corralled for fuck's sake. According to the AP report, the crowd's unwillingness to give up control of the intersection, merited the use of pepper spray. What really happened? Well, some of the protesters tried to walk away from the intersection (not toward the bridge, mind you), and the police just opened fire with huge canisters of pepper spray, from which they could shoot a constant stream a distance of about 15 feet. Needless to say, I ran like hell in the other direction. During this instance of indiscriminate spraying, a 3 year old child was hit. The police did nothing to provide medical assistance for the child. About five minutes later, the police allowed the the protesters to move down the same street to which we had moments before been denied access.
I must say that Channel 12 TV news did a fairly honest job of reporting the events, largely because one of their camerawomen was a victim of the indiscriminate pepper spraying. The three major networks and OPB, however, made it sound as if the protesters were inciting the violence. The Oregonian featured a picture of protesters on a police car and implied that the protesters were the cause of violence. I was at the protest for more than four hours and did not see protesters harrassing police, only the exact opposite. Granted some of the rowdies jumped on police cars when the police attempted to drive through the crowd to disperse it. But every instance of police force that I witnessed was unprovoked.
The encouraging news is that there were significant numbers of protesters. Although the major networks would have us believe that there were "hundreds of protesters," it was obvious that the crowd numbered more than a thousand. I would estimate there were between 1,500 and 2,000 people at the peak of protest activity - a pretty nice showing. Too bad it's not getting coverage because the moneyed assholes who pay $25,000 dollars to have their picture taken with Dubya are part of the same ruling oligarchy that owns and operates the major media outlets.
OK enough ranting. We all need to continue or begin to take action. Our vote means little; therefore, exercise you 1st Amendment rights while you still can. Make your opinion known; write to your Senators, Representatives in Congress and your local newspaper (if it will print anything besides the wishes of the corporation that owns it), and above all, take to the streets with your signs and your songs.
I am sorry about the lack of eloquence in this letter, but I'm fucking pissed off.