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Bush Visit to North Portland - The Local Take

While Republican donors sat inside the University of Portland's red dome auditorium and paid to see the President, area residents wondered out loud who was going to pick up the check for all the police overtime.
PRESIDENT, PROTESTORS LOOKS MORE LIKE A PARTY
George W. Bush Visit to North Portland Draws A Crowd

By Cornelius Swart
In & About Newspaper, North Portland
October

For a few moments on August 21st, North Portland was at the center of the world when US President George Bush stopped by the University of Portland on N. Willamette Blvd. for a Republican Party fundraising event.

For a part of the city rarely graced with the sudden spotlight of 'celebrity' visits many saw the visit as a prestigious moment for North Portland. For others, however, it was the over 3,000 non-violent demonstrators that also showed up that was a cause for excitement and anxiety. While a handful of pro-Bush demonstrators camped out on the corner of N. Woolsey and N. Willamette Blvd., thousands of anti-bush activists marched from Columbia Park to the University of Portland to voice their discontent with the current Presidential administration.

While few North Portlanders got to actually see the President last month, many did see the protestors and their police escorts. Much like this article, the demonstrators meandered their way through the neighborhood to the gates of the University where they remained until the President left the area. This reporter trailed the protest march through the streets of University Park and interviewed residents to ask them what they thought of all the hubbub.

Neighborhood residents that this reporter spoke with were unwavering in their support of the protestors' rights to peacefully express themselves.

"It's a beautiful thing!" smiled Raymond Wallace from the front lawn of his immaculately kept home along North Willamette Blvd. Wallace surveyed a few dozen pro-Bush supporters milling around on the street corner and the thousands of anti-Bush demonstrators as they marched singing and drumming past his house. "I welcome it. I support their right to assemble."

Wallace, a Portlander of almost 30 years just moved to North Portland in 2002. He is a devout Christian who attended Mt. Olivet Church on North Chautauqua Avenue for many years. He is a democrat and an ex-marine who served from 1962-1967 with two tours of duty afloat in Southeast Asia.

As Wallace spoke with this reporter, a beaten and battered late model pickup truck drove past a section of protestors. The passengers inside the truck chided the demonstrators for their anti-war signs, shouting, "Kill 'em all!" as they screeched past the activists. Wallace just shook his head. "I hope the Lord helps them find their way." Wallace motioned to the demonstrators in front of his house: "This is democracy in action."

Despite some antagonism involving pro-Bush and anti-Bush zealots, the march reflected a mostly carnival-like atmosphere. Anti-Bush activists wore colorful costumes, displayed giant puppets, and beat drums at the event that, at times, looked more like a parade than a protest.

"It think it's exciting," said Louis Johnson on North Woolsey. Louise and his wife Susan were camped out on their lawn to watch the festivities.

"I think most people just locked themselves in their houses, hoping it would be peaceful," said Susan Johnson, a 30-year resident of University Park. "But it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the motorcade."

"Our constitution says it's our freedom to protest," stated an older gentleman living on North Fiske who preferred to remain anonymous. "I'm a member of the AARP's Legislative Committee, so I can't go on the record with any more than that," he insisted. But when he believed this reporter to be out of earshot, he turned ot his neighbors across the street and said, "I was applaudin' the whole parade! Who was you applaudin' for?"

There was some exception to this sentiment. "I think the protestors are wasting their time," said 13-year-old Conner Childers as he watched the march on North Stafford. "It's too loud." When asked about his view on Iraq, the boy shrugged. "If he thought it was a threat, then go for it. He's the President."

Police showed up in force. Over 400 police officers from seven Oregon jurisdictions showed up to keep the President's visit free from incident. Last year almost to the day, a Bush visit and fundraiser was held at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Portland. the visit drew a lengthy and sometimes violent clash between anti-Bush protestors and police securing the area. This year, the police presence was conspicuous but lacked the atmosphere of tension that characterized the downtown event.

Portland Senior Neighborhood Officer Jason Christensen was on hand doing his part to make democracy safe for George Bush. Anyone who has ever been to a North Portland neighborhood association meeting will know young Officer Christensen as the soft-spoken liaison to the community who makes monthly reports to neighbors abou community policing efforts in their area. Today, however, Officer Christensen was straddling a mountain bike, baking in the hot sun.

"Frankly, I'd rather be on patrol in the neighborhoods," said Christensen. "It's just another day on the job."

When asked if he had any scoops on new crime in the neighborhood, Christensen thought for a moment. "Well, I have been tracking this guy whose been stealing freshly-planted tulips from peoples' yards."

For the most part, there were few significent confrontations between police and protestors. There were 10 arrests made. One protestor was arrested when she deliberately crossed the police barrier set up at University of Portland property and entered police ranks. Riot police quickly fanned out after the arrest to support existing police position. This escalation incited protestors who threw a half-eaten orange and a bottle of Evian water at police. No one was hit.

Demonstrators then taunted police with the following cheer: "You're sexy/you're cute/Take off your riot suit!" Police did not respond in any meaningful way. No clothing was removed.

At around 1 pm, protestors began to disperse after the President's departure.

While Republican donors sat inside the University of Portland's red dome auditorium and paid to see the President, area residents wondered out loud who was going to pick up the check for all the police overtime.

"I don't think just because we live in Portland we should have to pay for all this foolishness," said Della Bachman of North Woolsey, as riot police paraded down her street. "The donors should have to pay for it."

This was a fairly common sentiment heard by this reporter. Raymond Wallace, back on North Willamette, suggested a novel idea. "I tellya what," he said thinking about the idea of his taxes funding security at a Republican Party event, "If they can afford $2,000 to see the President, why don't they fly down to his house next time?"
What about the park? 03.Oct.2003 22:27

I.M.Angry

My comment regards what happened after the protest,in the park annex. (Sorry,can't remember the name of the park-I'm new to PDX.) People were pretty peaceably assembled in the park-about a hundred of us,I'd say. I was standing out near the main road that divides the park from the annex .Everything was quiet- my feeling was that things were winding down and people were probably about to go home.Suddenly,out of nowhere,this cop in a riot hat (at least) comes flying through the crowd and jumps on this girl.Well, of course,all hell breaks loose.People are running around,freaking out,the cops are bugling at us to LEAVE THE PARK NOW OR FACE CHEMICAL AGENTS and basically the cops shut the annex down and threw us out of the park.When I attempted to get to the bus stop a few minutes later,I was prevented and threatened with arrest.
Why were we thrown out of the park? What law or statute did the PDX pigs use to justify their fascist actions that day?I heard later that there was a bus full of donors which was stopped by some anarchists (go,anarchists!)sitting in the street in front of it and that was supposedly the reason.This was also "reported" by the crap corporate media that night and never retracted or apologized for,that I know of.Only one problem,folks.I NEVER SAW ANY BUS. I heard the bus incident was at a completely different location.The popo were in rare form that day.
If someone was there that day and can explain to me what happened-did I miss something big or is this just more of the same?Has anyone filed suit?

LET'S FACE IT 04.Oct.2003 00:29

I.M.Honest

Let's face it, the Bush visit was a total failure on our part.

and how could it have been better? 04.Oct.2003 00:50

juan

i'm just curious? i think we should evaluate our tactics and learn form our mistakes. and suggestions?

I'm with Raymond Wallace, 04.Oct.2003 02:00

Leroy Brown

Hey, if you fat assed Republicans have $2,000 to piss away, why don't you fly over to see Boy George in person.

Since you fat assed Republicans are kind of like family, he shouldn't mind you staying with him, should he?

misfire 04.Oct.2003 06:37

wasted ink

Only reason cops were out in force was because of past Portland protests. Neighborhood did not appreciate the hostility drug into the neighborhood by some few goons who infest all local protest. Does the clow who wrote this story know that the word "smirk" is invariably a pejoritive?

Face it, we fucked up and the bad guys won 04.Oct.2003 12:20

Theo

We are the "cute little protestor wanna-be" kids who were very easily controlled and ineffective. We were easily handled and caused no uproar, and gave the PPB much reason to gloat about their great preparedness.

Next time we need to, oh, actually get off our asses.

The bus 04.Oct.2003 12:55

was there

The bus incident was real enough. I don't know why the coppers picked on the girl in question. We had been moving back into the park, following Rosie the coppers orders. They jumped used Mace for no apperant reason . We can only hope, now that the Croakmeister is gone, the cops won't feel as much pressure as in past performances.

Yellow Police Tape 05.Oct.2003 18:15

Portsmouth Resident

No one has mentioned the lines of yellow "do not cross" police tape strung all up and down Portsmouth and all the cross street alley ways. We on Portsmouth had been told two days ahead of time that we couldn't park on Portsmouth that day. Fair enough, we thought. No mention of the damned tape-off!

All of the neighborhood people I've spoken to shrug it off: they all say it could be gotten around. That isn't the point. Doesn't anyone else get chills around this? My house was the only one with an anti-Bush message, and it certainly seemed as though the cops singled us out for "special" attention.

And oh yeah, while the protest organizers actually spoke to residents and distributed flyers assuring people of peaceful, non-destructive intent a week before the protest, the office of neighborhood involvement's flyer received two days prior, warned people to remove "bricks, planters, lumber, pipes,etc" from around their homes, as well as keep their pets and themselves indoors. And my favorite: "Although our objective is to have a safe and lawful event, it is indeed possible that civil disobedience may occur."

And a non sequitur: Cops dressing up like inhuman robots means that they ARE gonna use SOMEthing on SOMEone.

Argentina Protest 04.Nov.2005 17:35

odiousvermin

are you all watching the coverage from argentina of the protest there? that's the real shit. unfortunately the best pics so far are from mainstream news: yahoo and such.