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Portland March and Rally!

Report on the March 15th march and rally in Portland, probably the biggest peace protest Portland has ever seen.
This is just an outline of what I saw at the march, since I haven't seen ANY articles on indymedia that actually give a report of the march. I wasn't able to observe everything since I spent a fair amount of time volunteering to help the march run smoothly. I hope that others will contribute anything they saw that I missed!!

I arrived with the student/labor/radical feeder march from Pioneer Square to a very packed Waterfront Park at around 2:00. John Lewis gave a short speech, followed by a fundraising pitch. I helped do fundraising, and I was mobbed by people almost immediately during the fundraising pitch. My bucket was full of cash in minutes, and when I brought it back to deposit the money, the experience of all the other fundraisers was similar. Very quickly, people began pouring out of the park, and it probably took half an hour before they were all gone. I wandered over to the foot of the Morrison Bridge where the action was pretty much over, and there were almost as many cops as protestors.

I then joined the back of the march, which was quite lively, including a contingent of Rethinking Schools Portland. Along the way, everything stayed positive, with some apartment dwellers throwing candy to the crowd, and some Reed College students playing music and dancing next to Terry Schrunk Plaza. At one point, the peacekeepers (volunteers responsible for peacefully resolving conflicts) had interposed themselves between 7 or so counterprotesters and the march. They were trying to keep the marchers moving past the counterprotestors to prevent an argument that might lead to violence.

The march was LONG, winding through much of downtown, across Burnside to the INS building, then all the way back to the federal building on Broadway, and back to the Waterfront. It seemed like people pretty much left after the march ended and ignored the speakers. When I got back, the crowd had pretty much gone home, except for perhaps a few hundred people listening to the last few speakers, and many people at the various booths. The booths, which were reserved by various peace and justice organizations, were in fact busy for much of, maybe even all of the day.

In the end, I think that it was a success, with organizers estimating perhaps 45,000 people attending. This number is based on the percentage of waterfront park that was taken over by people. I was told that the capacity of the park is 70,000, so you do the math. I think that the booths were definitely a positive development, although I only base this on seeing that they were busy, and on the testimony of another organizer, Dan Handelman, who I don't think marched. In the future we'll need more volunteers to raise funds...
re: funds 16.Mar.2003 21:54

?

Perhaps you are good person to ask:

How much money was raised, and how exactly will it be used?


(Because I thought the point of having sponsor organizations was that they could pay for the march and stuff, and then, one would think, any extra money gathered from marchers would be used for some better purpose, like buying advertisements or sending money to help the Iraqi's whose houses will likely be destroyed by our bombs. Is this the case?)

Re: Funds 16.Mar.2003 23:06

Ira

Yeah, I don't know how much we collected. The rally cost 13,000 bucks, mostly for stage and sound. The rally committee had roughly that amount in the bank from the last rally. So the plan was to hold over another 17K for the next rally, the thought being it will be even bigger than this one. Any excess cash will be equally distributed among the cosponsoring organizations, each of which donated 50 bucks to support the rally.
see  http://www.rdrop.com/~pjw/mar15cosponsor.html
for list of these organizations.

The decision about distribution was made at the planning meetings for the rally, which I've been attending. This coalition, which has been organizing the rallies, is actually open to members of any peace and justice group in Portland, and the next meeting is in the Friends Meeting House, Thursday March 20, 4312 SE Stark at 6:30 pm.

Photos from the front lines 16.Mar.2003 23:16

tim tim@oregongrapevine.com

I shooting the marcher that were trying to get on I-5 I posted the pictures at  http://www.oregongrapevine.com


one of the booths 16.Mar.2003 23:34

Enji

I experienced the march sandwiched by a meditation vigil. Portland Buddhist Peace Fellowship set up this space, and at one point there were about 20 people enjoying the opportunity for reflection.

The vigil emptied as we gathered behind the BPF banner for the march, but it didn't take long for some people to arrive again, including some elderly ladies who prayed in Spanish.

Yes, it was a long march, but fun. This great band came through, jazzy and graceful, and many kids on stilts. (I could never do that.) We tried singing, but others around us weren't interested in "We Shall Overcome" and "I've got peace like a river". Surely people know these. Oh well.

We didn't get back to the vigil until almost 5 pm. A little more sitting, then time to change the form from vigil to park.

regarding funds: this march cost something like $16,000: permits, sound, portapodies, park rent, canopies, insurance, other stuff I'm sure.

a certain amount, I can't remember what, not much, is designated toward a next event/if war breaks out, and the rest is to go back to the co-sponsors. Many of these orgs are poor, and need the money back. Any extra money will go to the co-sponsors in proportion to their initial contribution, with the intention that this money will be earmarked towards the No Iraq War efforts. I imagine some of those orgs will do just as you suggest: try to get it where it is needed, like money to Voices in the Wilderness for medicine, etc.

gonna try this ONE MORE TIME 17.Mar.2003 07:40

CatWoman

I've said it before and I will say it again. I find the practice of gathering thousands of people downtown for what amounts to a walk-a-thon and then passing the hat around asking them for money to be very distasteful, if not actually immoral.

Peace is not a product to be marketed to the mainstream. Shame on the organizers for living off war time in this manner. What did you do with yourselves before war began to break out? Telemarketing for the policeman's ball?

People do come together for common purpose without having to be herded around like sheep and "entertained" by your stage and PA system. If all that really cost that much money, then you ought to have done without it. Resources are far better used providing relief to the victims of this crisis than providing yet more entertainment to "the mainstream."

Not only that, but why would anyone concerned with peace want to pay the salaries of the officers who beat and deployed chemical weapons against peaceful protesters on the Morrison bridge? That's what organizers have done by paying for a permit for the march. Take back your rights! Don't pay for them, just take them back.

This impending war is brought to you by capitalism. That makes your blatant attempt to sell peace to the masses part of the problem, not part of the solution. We need to consume LESS, not more. This could start at our "peace" marches. Next time, try the radical march. It's free.

fundraising not immoral 17.Mar.2003 09:05

douglas lain

Hey Catwoman,

Did you miss the fact that the rally cost 13,000 to put together this time and that the Peace Caucus used almost their entire coffer to pay for this event?

There are no paid staff members of the Peace Caucus and no staff members of PPRC, so nobody is living off the money raised for the events.

Hey Douglas 17.Mar.2003 09:24

CatWoman

Didn't miss that fact, Douglas, only question it. With the knowledge that capitalism and over-consumption of resources is leading us down the road to war, how do you justify paying $13,000 for something that could have been done for free, without resort to expensive and unnecessary extras?

Admittedly, a free rally would have had fewer frills...less entertainment value perhaps (although perhaps not). But is that really why all those people came? For entertainment? If so, then they are not promoting the cause of peace. They are promoting more consumerism, which is exactly what is NOT needed. Perhaps PPRC organizers underestimate their audience?

stop LYING about numbers 17.Mar.2003 10:50

anti-war activist

it does no one any good when we lie about numbers. yes, there were a lot of people at march 15, but it was not the biggest such event in portland history. it was, in fact, smaller than jan. 18.

i did estimates at the previous big events, and one method i found was to time how long the march took to pass any given point. i use this method after also having done block-by-block counts from static viewpoints, watching the density of the crowds, taking note of street widths, etc. Oct. 5 took about 40 minutes to pass and was approx. 11,000 people. Nov. 17 took a little more than a half hour and was about 9,000 people. Jan. 18 took an hour and ten minutes and was perhaps 20,000. March 15 took about 50 minutes. i would top it out at 17,000 or so. maybe 20,000 if you count people who didn't march.

the trouble with making it a numbers game is that you're marking your success by turn-out, and turn-out inevitably goes down over time if tactics don't change and people don't stay engaged. the only tactics that changed with march 15 was having tents for organizations and a call for twice as many peace cops as on Jan. 18.

these events shouldn't be about scorecards for attendance -- they should be about building a mass movement against war. that's about a lot more than numbers; it's about education and action. and, over time, it needs to be about escalating tactics to be effective in stopping a murderous machine. the big event on March 15 was a farce: reports of peace-cop assaults, calls for money, ego shows on stage, and the continuing underestimation of "mainstream" people to take stronger action than marching.