The demonstration against pResident Bush's fundraising visit to Portland, Oregon, on August 21, 2003, turned out thousands of spirited dissenters, with a wide variety of criticisms of Bush's policy failures, as well as several who questioned the legitimacy of his rule.
The atmosphere was festive and overwhelmingly peaceful, with many creative signs and costumes. Drummers and other musicians were on hand as well, providing entertainment for the crowd. I arrived after Bush did, and a substantial number of people were already leaving at that time. A sea of middle fingers greeted Bush, offered by the noisy crowd as he left the scene.
The Portland Police did not launch an unprovoked attack on the entire peaceful demonstration, as they did a year ago. Instead, they waited until the demonstration winded down, and several individuals returned to Columbia Park.
In front of the park, several demonstrators delayed a bus that was thought to contain Bush sympathizers. The police then moved in, and began to violently subdue people who did not appear to be resisting. The police began to provoke the crowd, and selectively target individuals who did not appear to be committing any crime.
The sidewalk bordering the park was then declared closed, and the police forced demonstrators into the park. One officer then began to threaten a man in a wheelchair.
The park was then declared 'closed' by the police, and anyone remaining in the park was threatened with arrest if they did not leave as quickly as the police demanded. The police forced the dispersing crowd into the adjacent church lot, and then began a forced march of the remaining citizens as they attempted to disperse.
During the forced march, one officer began to shove an individual who was attempting to leave the area. At least one other officer was heard making rude and provocative comments.
The police repeatedly rotated bicycle officers around to flank the front of the procession, hemming in the group, and would not allow citizens to leave the scene, instead insisting that citizens remain in the forced march.
While most officers appeared willing to overlook the unprofessionalism and incompetency of the handful of abusive officers that were present, the police abuse was far more isolated and narrowly focused at this event than was seen one year prior.