Tonight was the premiere for "A million dollars later" the indymedia collective's film of the recent a21 Bush protest. One aims of our film is to expose the a21 conspiracy by the Portland police to take vengeance on peace encampment activists. A couple of the peace camp members were there to tell their own story and appeal for support.
Todd who was very active in the peace camp photographed the notebook of photographs of Peace Camp participants that the Portland Police assembled. Todd is facing Federal Charges for not moving his nap sack out of the Peace camp park and onto the sidewalk fast enough. He faces a fine of several thousand dollars and 30 days in jail. His trial is this morning November 7th at 9 AM in the new courthouse -- The new Mark Hatfield courthouse. The trial is on the 9th floor in room 9B. Todd was also arrested for protesting the "sit/lie" ordinance that the mayor and others wrote to make protests such as peace camp illegal.
Amber Kristine Hicks also spoke at our indy video showing to ask supporters to come to her trial on Monday November 10th at 2 PM in room #124 of the Old Courthouse near City Hall. Amber is the woman everybody in Columbia Annex park was talking about on the afternoon of the August 21st Bush protest. What we were all saying is, "WHY did the police just grab that woman and drag her out of the park?" At this point the Portland police had demanded that we leave the sidewalk and go into the park. We had left the sidewalk, gone into the park and everything was so peaceful that I'm embarrassed to admit that myself and three other indy videographers turned our cameras off and started chatting about how the protest had gone. Fortunately, a couple of other videographers were not so careless.
If you see "A million dollars later" you will see Amber strolling in the park unaware that several Portland police officers are making a "bee line" straight for her. They pass up lots of others equally peaceful folks to grab her and drag her to the ground. Amber was handcuffed, pulled up to her feet and then pulled across the street by Sergeant Kruger without being given any explanation of why she was being abducted. Sergeant Kruger was one of the officers captured on March 25th 2003 on another indy video repeatedly pepper spraying a terrified young woman named Miranda May. On August 21st this same Sergeant Kruger gave Amber a black eye by ramming her face into the side of a van.
This part of our film is narrated by Brandi Steinmetz another peace camp participant who was beat up and arrested that afternoon and who is also going on trial on Monday afternoon. Brandi was arrested after we were told to leave the park. She was in a group that was being force marched out of the park. The officers shouted at her to "Move your fucking ass faster," bumped her with their bikes and tried to cut her legs with their bike pedals. But she could only walk as fast the people in front of her. After she had left the park one of the officers got his handle bars caught in her shirt. When she tried to free herself she was jumped. The officers tossed her on top of the bikes they had jumped off of and hit her in the head with a belly club. She suffered two broken ribs and a concussion. Then she was handcuffed and dragged face down over the bicycles and down the sidewalk. She was then charged with interfering with a police officer.
One key fact that Brandi establishes in her narration is that earlier while the officers were lined up on the sidewalk they were passing photographs that were head shots of people up and down the line. I believe Amber was out of the park at this time getting a cup of coffee. But by about ten minutes later she had returned and the police grabbed her.
When I interviewed Amber for the film I asked her if is she had any idea why she was singled out for arrest. She answered that while she was being dragging across the street Sergeant Kruger said to her, "You've been pushing your luck for far too long, young lady." When I asked what he could be referring to she told me that she thought he could only be referring to her work in Portland peace camp when she was often photographed and confronted by the police and the Homeland Security officers.
This is getting long and its late but I'd like to try to give you some sense of how inspiring it was to interview Amber and Brandi for our film. I'd also like to share with you some of the interviews that we cut out to make it a film focused on what Bush is doing to America and the world rather than just on what the police are doing to protesters.
I asked Amber what she had done at the Peace Camp to "push her luck." She told me this the following story. To prepare for Memorial Day Amber folded a thousand cranes, first out of paper, but then, because of the constant rain, out of tin foil. However, the police had by this time prohibited the peace camp protesters from sticking anything in the ground or hanging anything from the trees. So how was she going to hang her thousand cranes? The police had also forced the peace camp onto the sidewalk and surrounded the park with yellow "Police line: Do Not Cross" tape. So Amber hung her cranes on the yellow tape and turned the "police line" into a "peace line."
Amber was moved to help start the Portland Peace Camp because of an experience she had at a big pre-invasion of Iraq march in Washington D.C. After the march everyone just went home. And she could never get out of her mind the question: What would have happened if 100,000 people didn't go home? What if they had all just sat down until the war madness stopped?
Certain members of the Portland Police Department seem to think we will continue to pay them to beat up young women.
And then there is the shots we have in the film of an officer kicking a young man's head like it was football he was determined to knock over a goal post. So, yeah, I guess it isn't just women.
:: Todd goes to trial this morning Nov. 7th at 9 AM on the 9th floor (room 9B) of the new courthouse -- The new Mark Hatfield courthouse.
:: Brandi & Amber go on trial Monday at 2 PM - November 10th at 2 PM in room #124 of the Old Courthouse near City Hall
Please do what you can to show your support. The only hope we have to stop this madness is for these comrades to get acquitted and then be able to file lawsuits that will force the city to change their rules of engagement.