Today's noon North Park Blocks antiwar rally and downtown march served as a vital bridging action linking the incredibly large and well-organized events on Oct. 5, Nov. 17 and Jan 18 with what's to come in Portland.
The everyday people who attended today's radical gathering didn't worry about the weather, they didn't worry about permits, they didn't worry about side-issue messages. A crowd estimated in the high hundreds to low thousands simply came together with little notice and no traditional organization via the Portland IndyMedia Web site and word-of-mouth communication to loudly say
One of the best features of today's rally was the dozen or so members of the crowd who summoned their courage and got up on the park benches or just stood in front of their brothers and sisters and spoke from their hearts. No special guests. No prepared speeches. No appeals for donations, and no friggin' sound system!
I swear, those people connected better with the crowd than ANYONE else I've seen on the elaborate stages and planned agendas associated with the earlier events. See, I'm not criticizing big planned rallies. We're surely going to want and need them. Big one coming up on March 15, and we'll all be there. But let's just remember that we should listen to the workaday ordinary people who take the time to show up and really want the chance to make their voices heard. This is democracy. This is empowerment.
Moreover, this rally and march proved that the Portland antiwar movement DOES NOT, I repeat, DOES NOT, have to worry about city/police permits. We had a damn fine orderly march down Burnside, on Broadway and more. Yes, there were cops present, but we didn't give them any reason to get weird. We marched, cars stopped, people looked on or joined in, and everything worked fine. Hey, remember we still have freedom of assembly. At least until Bush and his murderous henchmen declare martial law. Jesus, get out there and exercise that right, and face down your fears!
Lots of folks were disappointed Portland didn't have larger numbers in the streets today. Too bad. We had a more than respectable turnout in the rain, regular people voiced their opinions, we marched down Portland's main thoroughfare, and we got out our message of
Every one of the children, women and men today at the North Park Blocks can take a special pride in standing up to the Bush war machine without measured prompting and without dancing to someone else's tune. We did it on our own using a kick-ass graphic Web poster, the fabulous Portland Indy Media site, and help from the Friday morning ladies at KBOO. Some lessons to be learned all around, most definitely.
BUSH IS THE TERRORIST!!
STOP THE US MURDER IN IRAQ!!
FIGHT BACK ANY WAY YOU CAN!!