Published on Monday, August 30, 2004 by The Oregonian
Antiwar Demonstrators in New York Impress Seasoned Portland Protester
by Jeff Mapes
NEW YORK -- Electrician Fred Faveluke has often participated in antiwar protests back home in Portland, but he said he never saw anything quite like the march he took part in Sunday in New York City.
Besides its sheer size, Faveluke said he was impressed by the seriousness and maturity of the demonstrators who sought on the eve of the Republican convention to show the depth of opposition to the war in Iraq.
"There would have been a larger contingent of troublemakers in Portland, I believe," said Faveluke, an intense, soft-spoken 32-year-old who is taking a week off from his job to demonstrate at the convention. He has frequently participated in demonstrations sponsored by the Portland Peaceful Response Coalition.
Sunday's march, he said, was "a very mainstream, family-oriented event . . . I didn't see anybody making trouble."
Portland protests have often been marred by so-called anarchists, Faveluke said, who "are just kids looking for a party."
He said protests in Portland, which was dubbed "Little Beirut" by officials in the administration of the first President Bush, often draw groups interested in advancing a wide variety of causes.
Faveluke said he and other demonstrators know their protests could backfire if they lead to violence and widespread property destruction. For example, Oregon Republican Chairman Kevin Mannix last week noted that if protesters leave a bad impression, voters are likely to associate them with President Bush's opponent, Democrat nominee Sen. John Kerry.
At the same time, Faveluke speculated that additional demonstrations this week could be more confrontational and include acts of civil disobedience. In Portland, for example, he participated in an attempt to shut the Burnside Bridge to vehicle traffic when the Iraq war started.
"I'm completely committed to nonviolence," he said, "but we've got an administration that just completely ignores the people."
Faveluke added, "There's arguments both ways on civil disobedience. I'm not here to do anything to people. But I don't think we can let the Republicans have a night on the town here, have them just think nothing's going on."
Faveluke, who sported a "RNC Not Welcome" logo on his T-shirt, said he didn't know what he would do later in the week but would wait to see how things develop.
He's also looking forward to playing the tourist. A rail buff, he wants to visit the subway museum in Brooklyn.
He said he's staying with a family he met through a Web site for demonstrators looking for lodging. He said his hosts have a son in the New Jersey National Guard who may be called to active duty in Iraq and a daughter-in-law who is in the military in Baghdad.
Faveluke argued that the invasion of Iraq was a distraction from the real war on terrorism, which he said should involve a more committed effort to dismantle al-Qaida and catch the group's leader, Osama bin Laden.
"Bush says he doesn't care about bin Laden," said Faveluke, referring to how he said the president no longer makes many references to the hunt for the al-Qaida leader. "But I'll tell you, in this city, 10 million people do."
© 2004 The Oregonian