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imperialism & war | police / legal

Some suggestions for constructive protest

I'm very amused to find that the rightwing, waste-of-skin trolls are using my name to post. This suggests that some of my comments really stung their pathetic little egos. Good on them. Below you'll find some constructive suggestions to perhaps make time spent downtown more productive.
Over the last few days, I have been quietly listening to the people around me discussing the war, and the downtown protests. Few people understand what we are trying to accomplish. Blocking traffic does not send a clear message; in fact, it is seen as so "pointlessly disruptive" (their words, not mine) that a couple of people were heard speculating that protesters had been imported from Seattle! I myself am unsure as to what bridge-blocking accomplishes, although I support those who chose to do it as a true expression of the rage, grief, and helplessness that many of us feel about what is being carried out in our names.

In many ways, protesting is about alternatives. I see a need for alternatives to blocking traffic, because I think it alienates many people who would otherwise be our allies. If we really are going to stop this war, and other wars, we need to gain allies, to educate as many people as possible, and to widen the protests exponentially. To do that, we must bring in those who currently don't comprehend the depth of the need for protest. Following are some suggestions for activities against the war, and for peace and education.

Print out online articles and distribute widely.
The internet is a tremendous resource. It is possible to find a wide range of truthful, unbiased news reports about the war. Many people are not seeing these alternatives. They are getting their news from slanted, thinly-veiled administration cheerleaders, such as Fox news, and supposedly objective sources like CNN. The printed page has power, however, and if we go to webpages such as commondreams.org and cursor.org, and print/photocopy articles to distribute to people going about their business downtown, we can do more to convince average Portlanders against the war than we can by standing in front of their cars. Imagine going up to someone holding a "support the troops" sign and handing them an article about the Repulicans cutting veteran benefits and health care!

Pass petitions and group letters.
Hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of people are coming downtown to demonstrate against the war. In these numbers, it might be possible to get the Portland City Council to reconsider passing an anti-war resolution. Jim Francisconi would make an excellent candidate to receive a few thousand letters urging him to reconsider his stance on council resolutions. Or perhaps a petition to recall mayor Vera Katz could make the rounds, or letters to inform her that her threat to cut social services to pay for police brutality is outrageous and won't be tolerated. The point of this suggestion is to harness the energy and outrage in a way that is likely to have concrete, positive, sooner-rather-than-later results.

Poll downtown businesses.
Currently, all businesses downtown are suffering a loss of income, even though some, maybe even many, do not support the war. It would be interesting to find out which businesses are against the war, and publicize the results on Indymedia and elsewhere. It would be best to be nonconfrontational. Simply go in, ask to speak to the manager/owner, and ask if they are against the war. I would be glad to go out of my way to support a businesses whose owners or managers feel as we do.

Create public art.
Art lifts the imagination and inspires the spirit. Images such as the die-ins are very powerful. Use humor to lampoon the opposition, as with Billionaires for Bush. Create murals with pictures of all those who have died or have been wounded so far in this war, soldiers and civilians alike. Give the people of Iraq a human face, so that those who support the war know what it is they're supporting. Recreate checkpoints and the outcome of gun fights, complete with theatrical blood and wounds. Bring home the horrors of war to those who either ignore them, or think that they are somehow "worth it". Several years ago, an exibit of women's sillouhettes was shown in Pioneer Square, each representing a woman who had been killed by domestic violence. Why not create a series of sillouhettes of soldiers, each with a gas pump coming from them, to represent the people who have died to put gas in wasteful SUVs?

I hope you find these suggestions helpful, but more importantly, I hope you find them to be a jump-off point for further creative, nonviolent actions to educate the average Portlander and to bring in new allies in our war against war. Don't be afraid to try new things. Creativity is our greatest tool.
For you my sweet :) 01.Apr.2003 12:05

Mike

To nobody's surprise there were protesters today in DC, they attempted to disrupt the metro system and block the Key Bridge, a leading artery into DC from Northern Virginia. I got hosed twice because I come in from NoVA on the metro and it is raining hard which makes traffic worse any way. My commute was long and arduous and only caused further resentment for protesters (but that isn't the point of this thread).

Anyway, I'll get to the point. I got off the train in Rosslyn because I had to use the bathroom and the train was moving quite slowly. When I was getting back on the train, there were protesters on the train platform handing out pamphlets on the evils of America. I politely declined to take one. An elderly woman was behind me getting off the escalator and a young (20ish) female protester offered her a pamphlet, which she politely declined. The young protester put her hand on the old woman's shoulder as a guesture of friendship and in a very soft voice said, "Ma'am, don't you care about the children of Iraq?"

The old woman looked up at her and said, "Honey, my first husband died in France during World War II so you could have the right to stand here and bad mouth your country. And if you touch me again, I'll stick this umbrella up your ass and open it."

I'm glad to report that loud applause broke out among the onlookers and the young protester was at a total loss for words.

I like your ideas and... 01.Apr.2003 12:24

The Princess

I like your ideas. Letter writing IS effective. Calling our local and National officals shows we are seriously against the "war." Creative art and such all make sense to me as well. And...

Blocking traffic makes sense. The reason is one not all protesters may agree with, but here is my reason for partaking in the blocking. Iraq is under SEIGE right now. Mothers, sons, babies, husbands, lovers, and friends are being KILLED by our AMERICAN SOLDERS. It is not business as usual in Iraq. Why should it be business as usual here? Yes this is a tit for tat kind of attitude, but truly, so many of the people around me seem to be apathetic, and blocking folks from carrying on with their daily routines seems to be the only way to get them to realize terrible things are happening.

Some of my friends can't see the point of blocking traffic or protesting for that matter. They say "what's the point?" One person said she felt blocking traffic only served to piss people off at the protesters instead of the government. Well that's alright because people should be pissed off. I'm sure the folks who are losing their homes & loved ones in Iraq are pissed off. I'm sure the famalies who have lost U.S. soldiers are pissed off. So if folks want to be mad at protesters, good. My hope is it creates a doorway for folks to begin to look at WHY people are blocking streets, protesting and participating in civil disobediance. Once someone in thier SUV on their way to thier suburban home, to watch yet another night of Must See TV is delayed or rerouted, they can't sit around and ignore what's going on in the world. The more they are kept from their regular routine, the more they have to acknowledge all the people in Iraq, who not only can't get in their cars to go home, but don't even have a home to go to.

for mike 01.Apr.2003 12:33

mrLady

Mike needs a group hug.

Blocking traffic works both ways 01.Apr.2003 13:38

dave

Princess, if somehow we anti-war protestors were to "win", and the administration (or a new one) was somehow pressured into bringing the troops home, imagine the pro-war faction getting up in arms (so to speak) and stopping traffic to insist that we go back. It's quite a stretch, but say they've bought so much of this liberation talk, and feel so much sympathy for the Iraqi people (and especially women), that they feel it's not "business as usual" for the Iraqis under any the current Iraqi regime?

That's a problem with very indiscriminant tactics. If you can argue using them on others simply because you don't agree with them, then you are hypocritical if you resist them being used on you because they don't agree with you. Better to use a tactic your opponent wouldn't want to use, because it actually accomplishes one of your goals. Someone who wants to cut down trees won't achieve it by sitting in a tree. A white segregationist wouldn't have achieved anything by refusing to give up their seat on a bus. A pro-Vietnam war person wouldn't have achieved anything by burning their draft card.

Stopping traffic is not only indiscriminant, it's counter-productive to the overall goal. It interferes with other protestors as much as it interferes with pro-war people, and ends up forcing everyone to consume more oil.

* Squeeze * 01.Apr.2003 14:40

Mike

Thanks for the hug everybody :o