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Why it is wrong to stand in a Free Speech Zone

Why it is wrong to stand in a Free Speech Zone
Free Speech Zone is to open dialogue and freedom of speech as cattle cars are to public transportation. It isn't just foolish to allow one self to be paraded off like a monkey at the zoo. It is self-destructive.

With a few exceptions, as there are no absolutes in life, anyone should be able to say anything anywhere. Of course this does not mean shouting fire in a crowded theater. But the reverse is also true, if you comply with zoned free speech you end up not communicating with the public, which is exactly what the powers that be want. Free speech is the right to communicate, verbal intercourse. Being told by 'organizers' or police that you will only be allowed to demonstrate, as they see fit is to jump their hoops.

Also people pointing this out were denounced as cops. How sad that an editor of Portland IndyMedia had to attack a posting questioning openness by saying words like "free speech and censorship" have no meaning here.

Well the Cheney visit is over so those who want to work to make Portland IndyMedia stronger though "No Fear to Speak" can continue on. I only get posted about half the time these days, so have fun with what ever you make of this site. I would rather stand with four other demonstrators at a time and place we picked than with four hundred who followed the leader or cops to a Free Speech Zone. I have never stood in an oxymoron. After seeing the cage I have to ask "whose cage, Our CAGE"?

Good-bye and Good luck Portland
shut up and do as you are told 14.Jan.2004 05:20

how's that feel?

Death of liberty by a thousand cuts. This is the thought that came to mind when I ponder the situation of free speech zones. During the Vietnam War we were not as easily cowed by the dictorial powers as now. Of course people were shot and beaten to death then. So I don't see any benefit in "bringing it on" with the militarized authorities to achieve dubious results. On the otherhand creative non-compliance is an option that needs to be explored more seriously.

Let's Do It! 1-Year Invasion Anniv. Rally--Noon Sat. March 20 in N. Park Blks! 14.Jan.2004 11:35

Lars the Infidel

Now is not the time to get discouraged. We must all get the courage up to get back in the streets, even in face of arrest probabilities, and show the city that all the people who poured into the boulevards of Portland in 2002 and 2003 are not cowed, are not going away.

So now it's time to follow up on this and prepare for the next logical step in public protest here in Portland. It's got to be the one-year anniversary of the Iraq invasion. Am I not right?! And thankfully, that anniversary basically falls on a Saturday, March 20, 2004.

Everyone who got fired up with that war criminal's visit to Stumptown last night should now get ready for the anniversary of the illegal invasion:



Let's Do It Again ! !

p.s.: March 20th also is the First Day of Spring. What better omen could we want?!

Right on, passive resistance 14.Jan.2004 11:38

go ahead arrest me, arrest all of us kc_lahar@juno.com

I completely agree. In the future I will not stand for being caged for my dissent. I believe that we must stand up up to this infringement to free speech get arrested in a peaceable and orderly fashion. The question is how do we organize this so it is peaceable and non violent?

good luck - plan for next time 14.Jan.2004 12:32

an organizer

Sure free speech zones suck.

So if you don't like them, protest somewhere else, not at the place that others have organized themselves to protest at. It is the paradox of calling a location for a protest: mass publicizing of a specific location is the best way to get lots of people to show up, but also the best way to broadcast to the police where most people will be so they can plan around you. If you have an effective answer to that question, please submit it.

At the Cheney protest last night, it was the hotel that was surrounded by fences and barbed wire, not the protesters. It was a huge, heavily guarded perimeter the wealthy Republican donors had to be bussed into to meet with Cheney. If we'd had more folks (not just the 200 or so who showed up) we could have surrounded the place like when Bush came to the downtown Hilton a couple of summers ago. Last night's protest, despite the relatively low numbers, drew heavy media coverage and thus massive pubic visibility because a location was picked and publicized and people showed up there (more than the several dozen drivers who would have seen it if the media hadn't covered it and we'd stood on Airport Way).

Once there, no one was bound by any 'leader' or anyone to stay at that location. The biggest problem was the barbed wire topped fence around the hotel which the cops were very serious about maintaining with violence if necessary. Sure, they moved a small section of the fence once when people were standing at the edge of the street the cops had already blocked off. But big deal, was the street no one was driving on anyway worth a fight?

If you want to have a big impact - organize, plan and communicate with other activists in advance (posting to indymedia doesn't count). If you are angry about police fences - plan on the down low about how you will subvert them, or block entry and exit points for example, with your affinity group to accomplish what you want to because the police will be listening for agitators and try to head their plans off. If you want to turn out mass numbers call in public for a gathering location and expect the cops to know all about it. Respect that some groups in the interest of turning out mass numbers and focusing the messages will call for a public location and that you don't have to show up at that spot and pull off your your actions. We are more powerful if we organize in advance and have mulitple things going on that aren't all tied to one location. Don't expect to be able wait and organize at the protest what the group, factions or affinity groups' next steps are. It's basically too late by that point and will take a lot of 'leadership' on your part with the cops observing if you are concerned about that sort of thing.

And just because the cops line up somewhere, do you really need to line up against them? Aren't you just being reactionary and letting them control what you do in that scenario? Letting them distract you from your focus? Better to craft your plans and organize in advance than complain on indymedia later.

dont be so greedy 15.Jan.2004 07:59

for mass numbers@protests

because there isnt any amount of people that can really shake the system the way it needs to be shook. Better off making sure it means something to you whether or not youre with 2 others or 200,000 others.

I can't believe I went to the airport 15.Jan.2004 08:13


I feel like a big, fucking sellout for going against all my better judgement and participating in the airport protest. I knew the free speech zone would suck, but the most disturbing part was the police escort on the MAX. I can't imagine what seeing that kind of oppression did to the non-protesting people on the MAX. Hopefully it woke them up, but still, what a way to become aware. Our free speech zone stretches from the Canadian border to the Mexican border. To everyone that conceded shrink our free speech zone, thanks for nothing. I agree with the idea that a protest with four loud, but proud folks that can be seen and heard is ten times more effective than what we had going on at the airport. For those that are screaming, "Well than, organize something else!" I will.

p.s. 15.Jan.2004 08:20


Posting on IMC IS a way to organize and communicate with both activists and non. It does count. Not everyone is a member of an organized group nor should they be. For some, this is an organizing tool. If IMC is not an effective way to communicate with others than why are you posting on it?

Ways around the dilemma 15.Jan.2004 09:08


"So if you don't like them, protest somewhere else, not at the place that others have organized themselves to protest at. It is the paradox of calling a location for a protest: mass publicizing of a specific location is the best way to get lots of people to show up, but also the best way to broadcast to the police where most people will be so they can plan around you. If you have an effective answer to that question, please submit it."

Exactly this problem has plagued promoters of raves for years: how to promote the event to lots of people without also enabling the cops to interfere with it.

One way the ravers have gotten around the problem is to not announce the exact location in any of the advertising they do. Instead, they announce a phone number, which starting a few hours before the event contains a recorded message with the exact location. Not sure if this would work for a demo (every situation is different), but worth a try perhaps.

Come to think of it, a web site (think last-minute Indymedia article) would also work.


Here's what I have to say 15.Jan.2004 16:14

about free speech zones


What would be wrong with protesting wherever we would naturally protest, and, at the first chance someone gets, inform any cop that tries to violate your constitutional right to free speech, that the ground you're standing on is American territory, so he is not allowed to encroach on free speech here, and tell him you will sue his ass, the whole department and the city. I bet a lot of people would sign on to the lawsuit, and I can't imagine that a lawyer would not show up for that many people. We could pool our money to back the suit, too. We could even plan it--ooh such an organized terrorist activity--so we will have the numbers of committed people in advance. We could get their signatures at the protest itself, too.
I am not in a position to committ a lot of time to this, but is there someone out there that would be interested??? Please, someone start this, free speech is too bedrock of a necessity to let slip away.

The war's not over yet 15.Jan.2004 17:18

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On Tuesday I warned that the Sierra Club was transparent. At the time I said "The only good thing they ever did was to piss off members who went off to start Earth First". This post was hidden. As liberal organization you can always count on them to do a membership stunt. They, with the help of PPRC, phoned to ask people to turn out for a Clean Air protest against Cheney. They then showed up with an inflatable White House and a gasoline powered compressor. And you censor me. If the readers are tired of PPRC (Portland Police Reconnaissance Committee) and NGO's that side track demonstrators let's meet up in public, I'm not afraid, and work out new tactics don't ever worry about the cops knowing, they will always find out. This can be an open brainstorming session we can use later. With a little thought and planning now we can make the cagers and the leaders follow us. Who's up to it.

PS the only people needed to say this is a police trap are the police.

Ok, here is what I will do next time, but I will need help 15.Jan.2004 17:40


Here is my idea, but I will need a bit of help with photocopying and handouts at the next protest (it's just a suggestion on how to counter the free speech zones, I welcome comments):

Fill out a small claims lawsuit form for Multnomah county court with just the defendant and plaintiff's names blank, with the damaging action listed as civil rights infractions.

Fill out a criminal complaint for for state and federal legal violations (with appropriate statutes cited), again with the names of the accused and victim blank.

Copy the buggers a few thousand times (and upload the forms so people can print them out and copy them, so we have enough).

Pass them out at protest with a quick-fill instruction sheet.

Every single cop that gives the order to move will be asked his badge number, and the forms filled out on the spot. After the protest, the criminal complaint forms can be collected or shoved in the nearest mail box, and those who want to file the lawsuit papers againt the individual cops can staple a check to them and send them along to the courthouse (this will cost around 50 bucks though, it is well worth it but many people just don't have the cash on hand to do this).

The reason I think this would work is because 1) this removes the cops' ability to hide behind their command structure and police union, because those entities are not named in the lawsuits. Only the individual cop is. 2) Cops may begin to think twice about doing the wrong thing after a few dozen of their buddies get sued and have criminal complaints against them, even if the lawsuits amount to nothing more than an annoyance. 3) Filing federal criminal complaints forces action, even if that action is nothing more than a cover-up.

SO, what do you guys think? Should I try to crank out these forms, or would nobody bother to follow through with them? Is this even a good idea, or counter-productive?

GPFX 15.Jan.2004 18:28

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GPFX a small grant for this is not a problem, after you work up the language IndyMedia should be good for that, for open suggestions. IF PEOPLE ARE UNSURE OF MEETING IN THE OPEN LET'S MAKE IN A CUSTUME PARTY MEETING, come as your favorite mask.

to gpfx and 358132134 16.Jan.2004 03:32

about free speech zones

I think that we need to talk about this and organize more. The problem is that the police might unexpectedly back off just enough to make us ineffective, thus leaving their free speech idea on their books, and us left to repeat the whole effort all over again. We need to allow them to mess up, then get them. This is exactly the tactic that they do to us, only they aggravate situations, harrass, and lie about us.
Anyway, I think making copies of lawsuit forms is FUCKING DOWN, and I wonder why no one ever thought of it before. If it catches on, it could revolutionize the whole nation. This is just the exact kind of simple, yet powerful, action that anyone fighting a battle dreams about.
My point was that I wanted a serious, end all, precedent setting court ruling on this. I don't know about not suing the bureau and city, etc.--they are just as guilty, IF NOT MORE SO.
I say, unless someone else has a better idea, that we meet at the next IM meeting at the Red and Black--when is that, Saturday night or something? Or at the meeting after that. We need to decide which protest(s) we will do this at.
(.....Curiously, my internet session just "ended" right when I typed this, and I had to reconnect...)
My original intent was to have something like a class action suit, with Alan Graff to help us. I think that's a good idea, and that we will stand a better chance of getting his help with more numbers. I will contact him. We will need to write new postings to keep this idea alive and public. If Alan Graff doesn't step up, then probably we can figure out a way to file this as a class action ourselves, if that is what we want. I like the individual lawsuits, but we need to go for the jugular, and like they say "drain the swamp." Let's talk later. I will plan on being at the next IM meeting at the R&B, unless you write back in to this posting and say you can't make it.

LET'S ORGANIZE 16.Jan.2004 14:49

and meet, tomorrow

at the red and black, during the indymedia meeting, at around 5-ish on saturday.
we can discuss the whole free speech zone thing, and what we can do about it. i talked to the aclu today, and i have a call to alan graf in the works--they may come through for us. in any event, let's meet, so we can exchange phone numbers and stuff. i will be there on saturday, and i will find you there.
all people who are interested in protecting our free speech are welcome to attend. this will basically be the ground floor stage of this free speech effort in portland. be there!!!

where's the "Free Speech" zone so I know where NOT to go? 17.Jan.2004 12:40


As someone who isn't involved in protest organizing but shows up to protests when I can, I'd LOVE to see the "Free Speech" zone clearly defined and signed when I'm there so I (and others) who don't want to comply know where NOT to stand.

When I went to the Bush protest up at U of P last year, I also wanted to protest whatever "Free Speech" zone they'd have up for us; but all I saw was the fence (I only was at the University site, not at the park where things might have been different), and it wasn't clear to me if there even was a Zone and if there were any boundaries. How great it would be to see, at the next demo, people holding a fat (and very long) red ribbon around the Zone with clean, official-looking signs reading "Free Speech NOT Allowed Outside This Zone". Then the point is made loud and clear, and the media has a great visual to show (and people can still choose for themselves whether or not to stay in the zone, without the point being lost).

I'll look into bringing something like this to the next demo.

Taking the cops to court will not work 22.Jan.2004 01:51


The idea of trying to hold the cops accountable to the laws they enforce on others has been tried and tried again. Often times, when cops KILL PEOPLE, the families of the people they kill take them to court. The police ALMOST ALWAYS get off with NO PENALTY. In one famous case, the murderer was suspended from the police WITH PAY (ie, he was given a paid vacation as punishment).

I think the courts have already spoken on whether they think cops have to obey the law or not. If the courts don't care if cops MURDER PEOPLE, then they don't care if the cops violate your free-speech and free-assembly rights, either.

Doh! protesters 12.Apr.2005 16:44

All eyes on You

Protesters, late to the cage had the opportunity to get the word out to attendees arriving in a bus. Keep your eyes on the prize so you can get your words out without any asphalt on your sweat shirts.