Yesterday's weekly Portland Peaceful Response Coalition (PPRC) march and rally centered on Ronald Reagan and the record of abuses and crimes undertaken during his administration. There were a number of props, including 3 coffins which were labeled in ways that reminded those who saw them of the many deaths caused by his policies.
Joining the marchers on their sojourn were a pair of Reagan supporters who carried a poster glorifying the Gipper. Unfortunately for them, their poster's message was altered by the context in which it was displayed. Surrounded by Peace Signs and "Reagan was no hero" posters, it took on an air of sarcasm rather than the reverence which it was intended to have. The result was that the march had two more members, not two detractors.
Their conversation ran between the bizarre, the interesting and the insulting. My favorite quote: "...of course the Palestinians want their land back, now the Israelis have made all those improvements...."
Since this is Rose Festival week, the yearly presence of Naval vessels at the waterfront proved it's usual irresistable draw. The marchers, however, arrived at Waterfront Park only to find their progress impeded by a dozen or more Portland Police officers. The officers, led by a Lt. named O'Dea, claimed that there were "too many people down there" and the march would somehow endanger them.
For some marchers, this action was deja vu all over again. A couple of years ago, the PPD had done the same thing, resulting in a lost lawsuit for the City and the Rose Festival- an expensive lost lawsuit at that. While it is unclear who was giving the orders this time, it looks like they had not heard of this. According to at least one person it is very likely that a new suit will be filed next week, and that if that takes place some real money is going to go into the anti-war chests of the organizatons involved.
What might irritate the powers that be as much or more is the presence of a gentleman from CIPA, the French news photography agency, in town looking for a story. He found plenty to burn film on while PPRC organizers and a crowd of around 40 marchers representing many groups including the War Resistors' League, NW Veterans for Peace, Veterans For Peace, WILPF, Cop Watch and others confronted the officers. It is entirely likely that PPD's violation of the marchers' right to proceed will gain international exposure.
There is a rally scheduled at the same spot to protest the presence of US Naval vessels tomorrow, Saturday the 12th of June, at 1pm at the fountain in Waterfront Park. This event will likely receive a great deal of attention from PPD and other agencies, considering their response to today's peaceful demonstration. Should be interesting to see how they handle things. All are invited to attend. Bring signs, banners, drums and cameras and of course, your wonderful anti-war/peace and social justice selves!