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Let's shut down downtown PDX

Portland tried to stop us and failed. Let's try to stop them and succeed.
I think it would be quite feasible to stop time in downtown for several hours. If we could pull out 1,000 to 1,500 people, we could separate them into groups of 150 to 200 people and march them down six, seven, or eight different streets. This would effectively stop traffic, while dispersing the police so that no violent incidents would happen again. However, even if one section was routed by the police, the others could continue while they regrouped and resumed marching. This would be an excellent way to shut down the city NON-VIOLENTLY. We would need a very good reason to march, though, to pull out enough people. Anyone else up for this?
Yeah, I'm up for it 26.Aug.2002 05:05


How about September 27?

Good call for Sept 27th 26.Aug.2002 09:37


We need solidarity actions, I am not sure if shutting down downtown is the right one but it may be. On tactics, I think we should have had a good deal of scouts on every corner tracking police movements and directing the crowds. Just a thought

How about a September 17 action? 26.Aug.2002 09:38


September 17 is Constitution Day, and there's been a nationally posted suggestion to boycott work, buying, everything having to do with the State that day to protest the highjacking of the Bill of Rights. How about a PDX action September 17? Information could be distributed about the USA Patriot Act, and workshops could be held on how we can take back our country.

Need to think some more about this 26.Aug.2002 11:31


This would probably backfire. What we really should be doing is educating people. If you keep them from getting home in traffic they are going to be even more close minded. And you might end up in a fight with some redneck.

I don't think so 26.Aug.2002 12:54


I agree with PHH. An event like this would never look good to the media or the public, and that's what we have to be thinking about. Appearance is as important as substance when it comes to educating people. Not only would this look bad, I can't even understand why you would want to do it. You said yourself that you would need a good reason to do this. Well, if you don't have a reason yet, why do it? Please think before you act. I understand that you still have a lot of energy leftover from Thursday, but there's other ways to be useful to your community besides protesting. Here's an idea: write a letter describing your account of what happened Thursday, and send it to every newspaper and tv station that misrepresented the facts.

Don't confuse ends and means 26.Aug.2002 14:33

Just an organizer

Of course it would be possible to shut down downtown Portland, just like it was possible for a small group to shut down downtown New York City on September 11,2001.

Don't confuse tactics and strategy, ends and means. Many people are willing to undergo tremendous sacrifices and unpleasantness when there is a good reason for it. Pepper spray in the face isn't pleasant, but people were willing to endure it to protect our right to protest. Or just watch how people respond when there is an accident involving young children or a state-wide emergency such as a flood or tornado.

True, we could have shut down downtown Portland on last Thursday. But I thought our object was to protest the visit of George W. Bush, not to shut down the downtown. And yes, while I would be the first to admit that the operation of most, if not all, of the businesses and governmental agencies downtown should be protested, changed or stopped, that is not what that gathering was about.

If you can convince me - and thousands of others - that there is some good reason to do, then we will stop everything downtown. Certainly that happened in Seattle on November 30-December 1,1999. But first you have to convince us that what we are doing is necessary and will help in our long-term goal of utterly transforming this society.

Movements construct the means to achieve the end. But you have not stated what that end is. You need to think a long time about why you are confusing tactics with goals, otherwise you are going to end up doing justifying actions that are merely stunts or truly dangerous. And isn't that what we are protesting?

I would suggest going to Washington on September 27th and joining with those folks in their attempt to shut down a city while you meditate on this.

Waste of time 26.Aug.2002 14:48


There are far more productive ways to use your time and energy than this. There's no tactical advantage in shutting down the City - you'd just be pissing people off for no reason. There's also not a chance in hell that you'd be able to get anywhere near the numbers of people you describe to take part in this action. Most of the groups involved in the August 22 demonstration would reject it out of hand as a pointless waste of time and organizing effort, especially since their primary point of contention was George Bush's visit, not Portland itself. If you were lucky, you might get 50 people in the streets. Maybe 100.

Good points 26.Aug.2002 14:53


Good point that it was not the objective of A22 to shut down the city. Though it does not sound like the original poster was suggesting that, but rather suggesting it as a possible future action.

Certainly Sept 27th would be an appropriate day for such an action as it is mobilizing against business as usual as the IMF goes about enslaving millions around the world so U.S. citizens can have cheap oil for their cars and consume a significant portion of the worlds resources. Very good day to shut down the bridges, or downtown.

Education is important as one poster mentioned, and they can be combined, with workshops and information disseminated along with an action. Too many times these things get presented as either or situations, and they are not.

All power to the people

RE: need some more time to think about this. 27.Aug.2002 10:23

anonymous or made up

>>This would probably backfire.

Especially since, by his own admission, s/he hasn't even come up with a REASON for why s/he wants to do this.

Can you say Duuuuuhhhh???!!!

REASON? OH, I DON'T KNOW 27.Aug.2002 10:25

anonymous or made up

>>> Here's an idea: write a letter describing your account of what happened Thursday, and send it to every newspaper and tv station that misrepresented the facts.


But that's a lot of work and it's not very exciting.

safety 27.Aug.2002 11:37

lucy p.

If you do come up with a particular goal that's well-suited to your tactic, I just wanted to provide a word of caution. Splitting into smaller groups -- even as large as 200 -- makes us all far more vulnerable than when we stick together. The police can easily attack groups of 200 one at a time, especially if they're prepared for that tactic.

I don't know about anyone else, but police conduct last Thursday, while appalling and outrageous, did not strike the same outright terror in my heart as police conduct on May 1, 2000. That May Day, cops separated us into ever-smaller groups, and it felt horrifying to be isolated.

Together, we're strong! El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido!

Mass movements will shut it down 27.Aug.2002 12:22

LeftFielder leftfield@post.com

Shutting down a town can be done by several thousand, or hundred, or several people. The question is whether such a tactic makes us stronger, builds a movement, etc. If the anti-war movement was truly mass, then tens of thousands of people would have demonstrated Thursday, and the cops would have nothing to say. Shutting down with a small fraction of the population is elitist. There are no shortcuts to democratic change.

Radicalism involves the passion to build a mass movement, not the fetishization of extreme tactics. Tactics should match the state of the movement; you cannot substitute bravery and daring for popular movements. Build the latter, and we'll get to tactics when we have more than a few pawns on the board.

Risks vs Benefits 27.Aug.2002 12:51

Gianni Pronto

Remember that obnoxious U2 video where they shut down traffic in downtown LA? They ruined a lot of people's day, people just trying to get to and from work, and they lost fans in the process. Who the hell did they think they were? The Beatles? Jesus? God?

You need to get the working masses on your side, not against you.

Also splitting into smaller groups makes for less impressive media. The undeniable image from A22 is that there are a lot of people in those shots! This is impressive.

Your energy and enthusiasm is greatly admired from afar. You make me want to move to Portland. Don't stop.

Gianni Pronto

Gianni Pronto's Right... 27.Aug.2002 15:00


The drawback to "shutting down the city" is exactly as he said; otherwise-supportive people will be pissed off at YOU, not at the people they should be pissed off at - in this case, city officials and the Portland Police Bureau.

There already has been significant outcry to the Mayor and city council; Mayor Katz's aide Sarah Bott estimates 80 percent of calls, e-mails, and letters to the Mayor's office were critical of the police. (August 27 Oregonian.) Today's Tribune has Council candidates Serena Cruz and J.P. Moss critical of the police action as well.

Going off on another tangent, what do you think happened at the meeting yesterday between Mayor Katz and Chief Kroeker? Could Katz finally have had enough, or can she (and City Council) be pressured into finally firing him (as well as Assistant Chief Greg Clark, the incident commander in charge of the situation)? It seemed odd that Kroeker was very vehement about the police following procedure, but Katz not commenting at all about the meeting.