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actions & protests | imperialism & war | youth

The PPRC is Low on Blood Sugar

Report from the September 5th weekly PPRC rally and march
The September 5th weekly Portland Peaceful Response Coalition's rally and march for peace was another step in sharply dropping numbers and enthusiasm for the weekly marches. Approximately 30 to 40 people attended the march, which generally has a short rally and speeches at Pioneer Square and a march to City Hall for more speeches, and a march back to Pioineer Square. The crowd has become increasingly subdued throughout the last several months; at several points during this week's rally, the only person chanting was the person with the megaphone. The marchers are also increasingly more representative of older peace activists as youth and young adult participation has become rare.

During the march, a woman who appeared to be pregnant and about 40 years old collapsed onto the sidewalk, her abdomen and face hitting the sidewalk with relative force. Several marchers helped her to her feet and assisted her in walking to City Hall; once at City Hall, marchers asked for a sugar-loaded snack to give her. The symbolism of a pregnant woman, full of the potential for life, collapsing from low blood sugar was not lost on all of the marchers. Many members of the defacto leadership in the PPRC have continuously distanced themselves from Portland's energetic youth activist culture. At a PPRC meeting several months ago, a member of the leadership stated that he did not like the "element" that came to peace rallies as a result of posting announcements on Portland Indymedia. Other defacto leaders have stated that they did not want to allow people to wear black bandannas at the rallies, a tactic employed by a disproportionate amount of younger activists. This is in stark contrast to the actions of the older women of Code Pink, who has worn pink bandannas to demonstrate support of a variety of tactics and activists. Through the words and actions of some of the PPRC, many activists have felt pushed away from participation in PPRC events. It is as if PPRC is the pregnant woman who fell during this week's rally; full of creative force but low on blood sugar, the organization has refused to energize itself by embracing a variety of ideas that are held by the youthful activist culture. The correlation that the PPRC has apparently written off Portland Indymedia and that the weekly rallies are smaller than ever has not gone unnoticed by many in the activist community.

Many defacto members of the PPRC leadership are frustrated and upset by this lack of momentum. Several members of the PPRC have continued to post "unofficial" announcements on Portland Indymedia and to engage the youth and young adult activists during more energetic events such as Critical Mass and the zine symposium. While the more conservative members of the PPRC work to engage churches and priests and encourage the organization to ignore or actively discourage radicals and revolutionaries, other members contiue to speak out in support of more vigorous action. Just like Portland Indymedia, the PPRC is an open group that anyone can influence simply by attending planning meetings. Some activists have pointed out that if a sizable contingent of radicals and revolutionaries took part in the PPRC organizing meetings, they could easily be a swing voting block and provide a sugar rush for the weakened PPRC.
Pacifists and Anarchists need to work together 06.Sep.2003 14:03

anonymous

It is truely sad when we have come to the point when people want to have selective protests. It is completely counter productive and you are giving into the governments tactic of divide and rule. The government has always tried to keep the people in separate class and racial barriers so that there is no form of community among its people. If we can not get passed our differences then the government has already won and you had mine as well just go home and forget about ever changing anything.

I hope that whoever it is that wants to discriminate against the black clad anarchists, or anyother goup of people, wakes up and realizes that they are more a part of the problem than they are of the sollution. I believe that the only way that we are going to create true change in this fucked up society is if we can come together and build a stronger community. We need to educate eachother instead of turning our backs.

activist dysfunction is big time in Portlan 06.Sep.2003 18:33

ready to quit

This is why we're not going to get anywhere with activitism in Portland, because activists, especially those people who have placed themselves into leadership roles, won't look hard at their own personal issues and therefore let them get in the way of the movement. Anyone who is in a leadership role or who is getting media attention or some kind of recognition as a leader should step down from that role unless they honor and accept new ideas/dialogue. You'd think that activists would be the very people where dialogue, where new energy, where individual expertise & talent, would be welcomed with open arms. Instead, many of the so-called leaders feel threatened and so negate those ideas or approaches and act as if only they have all the answers. Instead of delegating duties or referring people to other activists who might know something about a certain issue, they jump on everything in their need to control. Maybe activists should ask themselves some questions:
When I see a new activist, am I friendly and welcoming?
When I hear new ideas, am I willing to discuss them even if I initially disagree?
If an issue comes up and a group wants me to help, but I know someone who has a lot of expertise in that area, do I refer the group to that person, or not mention them, or maybe even bad-mouth the person, which effectively shuts that person out of an opportunity to contribute to the issue?
Am I working towards change and progress, or am I trying to hold onto to my position?
Am I making sure that whenever an opportunity comes up to network separate groups I do my best get people together?
When the media contacts me, do I refer them to other activists who know a lot about the issue?

ageism yet again 06.Sep.2003 18:47

young but not an ass

Man, why the ageism? Whatever grip you have with PPRC is your business, but why try to turn it into a generational thing? Listen, I know our culture idealizes youth, but snap out of it. It's just another myth of consumption sold to you by the corporate media.

Incidentally, I agree with you on many of your points about the way PPRC has gone to great lengths to discourage radical participation in the past. But let's face it. Not all radicals are "youths." Not by a long shot. And not all "youths" are all that effective. Did you miss the pathetic showing of the high school black block at the last bush protest? Man, it was at least as sad as the friday PPRC rallies.

The point isn't really to pick on the pathetic high school bloc, nor is it to pick on PPRC. It's just that there's a lot of thoughtless ageism and silly stereotypical assumptions about who can be/is an effective activist lately, even on this site. I find it disturbing, and I've said so before. It's going to be mighty hypocritcal if we keep beating this dead drum now, and then change our tunes and start demanding respect only when we, ourselves, are so-called "older activists."

to ready to quit 06.Sep.2003 19:00

native

"When the media contacts me, do I refer them to other activists who know a lot about the issue? "

No, I tell the corporate media to fuck off. They lie.




I couldn't resist.

nice analogy, but...... 06.Sep.2003 23:47

moonshadow

I was one who helped the woman to her feet. She was not pregnant, just obese. We deduced from her comments that she was diabetic, having low blood sugar. She may also have been under the influence of alcohol. Nice analogy, though.

to "young but not an ass" 07.Sep.2003 00:01

kurtkabang

my article wasn't ageist. you'll notice that i gave props to the "older women of code pink." i've said it before and i'll say it again, code pink (mostly older women) is my favorite group around; they make me stop wanting to kill myself.

i'm talking about youthful energy. i did use the terms radicals and revolutionaries at other points in the article. it's a fact that these people tend to be younger. you're absolutely right that one term isn't interchangable with the other. i never claimed that older people were bad and younger people were good. in my article i gave great respect to other members of the pprc that are also older yet stick to youthful energy. your comment sounds defensive.

shit, i'm thirty, which means i'm not to be trusted anyway.

props to Ready to Quit 07.Sep.2003 13:57

twisting ralph

Dear Quit:
You have hit the nail right on the Handel... er, I mean head. Would that those to whom you so elequently refer would be able to Sea... er, I mean recognize themselves and take appropriate action. But alas, as long as there is a camera pointing their way or a corporate reporter ready to immortalize in print their every golden gem of a word, I fear it shall never be so.

lets support the PPRC at their 100th rally 07.Sep.2003 14:02

Brian

the PPRC is a few weeks away from their 100th weekly protest.

Whether it is fasts, spiritual quests, relationships, any sort of long term committment low points should be expected. A couple of weeks ago the last rally I attended had a very high energy level.Of course, that was the week before Bush came to town. It was also the 95th or 96th rally. We ought to rally with the PPRC and be supportive on the 100th rally. I'd tell you which week it was but I lost count.

Find something that works for you 07.Sep.2003 16:48

just watching

So pprc has forty people out to a rally. That's more than anybody else turned out last week. Including Code Pink, whom I like too. Let's face it, they are just one facet of a broad spectrum of activism in Portland. The Albina Ministerial Alliance had about 300 at their event, Saturday. And I saw the usual pprc folks there, as well. Who cares? We should build our own rallies and events. And support whom we choose to support. Chipping away at different facets of progressive activism is silly. Is PAG too silent? Is WILPF too old? The Greens too electoral? The black bloc too scary? Labor too skittish about the war? Health Care For All too narrowly focussed? Etc, etc, etc.

Kurtabang, don't kill yourself. Just find or create something you can support. It's a big world out there.

hot and dry! 07.Sep.2003 18:11

gk

I have attended the PPRC weekly rallys since November 2001, missing only several for medical reasons or being out-of-town. They are a highlight of the beginning of the weekend, and a chance to be with others for the cause. I have learned so much from hearing the speakers. While I have not been to any meetings, I know some of what is happening in the group. PPRC does not publicize their meetings on Indymedia. I think this is a mistake. It seems they think we on this media are too radical. Well, I am, and I STILL attend PPRC rallies! There are other issues within, but I'm told the leadership roles are moved around, and that is a positive aspect.

The woman who fell might have been diabetic, but I tried to talk to her, and she appeared to be breathing ok, yet she was blank and nonresponsive. Perhaps she was on drugs. It was suggested we keep a First Aid kit on these marches. At any rate, the lesser numbers could be attributed to the weather, hot and dry! It is hard to chant when your mouth feels like cotton and your inner clothes are damp from the heat and humidity. I think our enthusiasm for peace and stability in the mid-East is high! And.....the No War Drum Corp did a new routine pounding their "sticks" last week. I thought it was really cool! I dig the kids in black scarves too! I'd like to see them participate.

Huh? 08.Sep.2003 07:37

booboo

What the hell does "Hot and Dry" mean, gk?

It's not about age 08.Sep.2003 11:56

Croppy Boy

The field leadership of PPRC (self appointed no doubt) definitely has control issues with other people's too radical attitude. They fully shut me down, and I'm no black blocker, i.e. fifty year old carpenter dressed for work. They made it clear that any chanting hollering or behavior of any kind that they considered obnoxious would not be tolerated. As I recall these demos started out spontaneously in the beginning, without any real leaders. It's obvious to me after attending quite a few that a small group of people have made it their wee feifdom, and now feel entitled to control. Ho Hum. Here we go again. This is why I don't make these rallys anymore. and won't in the future. Eventually they'll piss me off, and I'll wind up being mean to 'em, and that would suck. The Lesson? Putting the desire to suck up to authority above solidarity and the inclusion of all those allied against the machine doesn't work. The process of co-optation begins the second you ask permission, and the results are inevitable. Name one revolution, ever, that wasn't sold out by the bourgoisie?

Boo with booboo! 08.Sep.2003 22:08

gk

Obviously, booboo hasn't been to the rallys these last 2 months. Too busy mistaking ghost screams with Christmas. gk.

Ageist comments seem very stupid. Classic Kurt. 09.Sep.2003 17:17

the lady at the rally with the alligator bag

Peace and good luck in organizing future events more to your liking.
Don't shut down the ones that do exist because you are unable to organize your own.
And if you organize something new - a more "energetic" youthful rally, I hope you won't mind if drag my old body over there and join you.
I would you know, because I am one of those people that actually goes to things.
And I really appreciate that you disregard everything I do because of my age and "lack of enthusiasm" by your standards.

The ageist comments are offensive and show great stupidity.
Then we have the misinformation of a non-existent pregnant woman (I was there, Kurt - she wasn't pregnant). Diabetic. Big difference. Or maybe you were just so "full of energy" you couldn't tell what she was.
Luckily, i had some "old lady" hard candy in my "old lady" purse and helped her out.
Remember me now, Kurt? Or were you paying attention?
You'd have known that she was diabetic if you had actually checked on her - or even come within 10 feet of her. What were you doing all that time? Fuming about how there were too many old people at the rally?

How charming. And what a waste of time.
If that's what the "youthful element" does instead of attending rallies - if they are just sitting at home fuming about how old people run the PPRC or how people aren't shouting loud enough (I get tired at the end of the marches, sorry if I'm not loud enough for you)...I feel so sorry for your future organizing efforts.
it's going to be tough to get that chosen "element" out into the streets if they aren't out there now.
And from what I see every Friday - they aren't out there.

Come on over and chat with me this Friday Kurt.
I'm the one with big old lady purse...and the grayish old lady hair.
But I think I'm pretty enthusiastic for my age.
I can spell better than all of you, too.

to the lady 10.Sep.2003 10:37

kurtkabang

quothe the lady: "it's going to be tough to get that chosen "element" out into the streets if they aren't out there now.
And from what I see every Friday - they aren't out there."

that's my whole point. i'm going to say that again just so it's clear: THAT WAS THE WHOLE POINT OF THE ARTICLE!!!. the pprc rallies right now are pathetic and small. they use to be huge and fun! many people that i talked with feel the reason for that is that the pprc leadership has shut out the radicals and revolutionaries. this often includes more young people than old people, so i was simply reporting on that. by my appearance, i am definitely not a radical or revolutionary. i simply want pprc rallies to be big and i was wondering why they weren't, so i asked some people there and i formed my own opinions based on emails i've read, meetings i've attended, rallies i've attended, and indymedia postings i've read.

i think i was pretty clear in my article and in my follow-up comments that it isn't necessarily a "young" vs. "old" think, it's more of a youthful attitude. and i mean youthful attitude in the buddhist, open-to-all-things sense, not in the capn' crunch marketing sense.

you say that she wasn't pregnant. well, i never said she was. i said in the article that she "appeared" pregnant. it doesn't matter if she was or wasn't, i was just using this woman as a metaphore.

old ladies are cool. for the third time, i think code pink is the coolest, most youthful, most energetic group around, regardless of their age. i wish that more of the code pinkers were regular pprc decision makers.

i'm sorry if i appeared to be against old people, but you need to take responsibility, too. much of the burden of reporting requires careful reading. so next time, please actually read my article and comments.

fuck pprc 10.Sep.2003 13:20

watchdog

pprc members accepted an award after the recent iraq protests for being good activists. fuck that noise!

to watchdog 10.Sep.2003 16:58

mia

if you'd been to a pprc rally or spoken to someone who is currently active with the pprc you'd know that those individuals that accepted the award have split off and formed their own groups. those same individuals are most likely responsible for insisting that radicals aren't welcome. things have changed since then.

know the whole story before you write off the entire group.

to mia and watchdog 16.Sep.2003 13:30

Eric

> if you'd been to a pprc rally or spoken to someone who is currently active with the pprc you'd know that those individuals that accepted the award have split off and formed their own groups. those same individuals are most likely responsible for insisting that radicals aren't welcome. things have changed since then. <

Actually, not. Of the five offered the award, at least two still attend regularly, and three don't. And of those who were offered but refused the awards, one is a current PPRC leader and another supports those who accepted the awards but is disinterested in PPRCs current activities. Three worked in various capacities for the WTO rally, and all three have differeing opinions on direct action and the awards. The same three worked on both PeaceQuake and the Iranian festival at PSU in various capacities. Both "sides" feel that they were betrayed by the other, but only one "side" actively works toward excluding the other from moevment work. It's a mixed bag, and doesn't break down into neat little boxes. Rather than trying to stick labels on things and put people in good-activist/bad-activist categories, do the work you think needs doing and see who you wind up having a drink with afterwards.

> know the whole story before you write off the entire group. <

Don't feel picked on, but this happens to everyone who tries to explain things -- "the whole story" is more complex than the responder to mia has even begun to suggest, and begins a year ago with other personal squabbles and ego-issues about leadership and recognition. It's not pretty, and in the end it's not really very important.

Do the work.

=Eric