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KBOO, Joanne, NWCRC... Care to Comment?

I was listening to KBOO this morning as I got ready for work. And an otherwise interesting and laudable report was marred by a caller named "Will." He said he was a friend of Joanne Bowman, and he went on for a long time about himself. And then... here is what happened.
The report was about the inability of the "Independent" Police Review Board to actually get in there and do its job. Lots of interesting facts came out about how the IPR allows the police to investigate their own misconduct, and how there has never been a single substantiation of a citizen complaint regarding PPB's use of force during the entire reign of this IRB's tenure. People were calling in about Kendra James and other citizens who were killed by police officers who were later exonerated in false "investigations." I was riveted to the radio when Alejandro Queral, the director of the Northwest Constitutional Rights Center spoke up about the failure of the IPR to hold the police accountable for their violence. Couldn't that failure be attributable to the fact that the police are allowed to investigate themselves, he asked the IPR person. No, she replied. There was a pause, and then a polite but understandably flabbergasted Alejandro asked her to please explain how that could be. And she coughed and spluttered, and could not find a reasonable answer.

I wanted to hear a lot more about all this, but suddenly the flow of conversation was interrupted by a caller. I thought it would be an inciteful addition to the subject at hand, as other calls had been. But no. This man came on and importantly introduced himself as "Will, your fellow activist." He then went on for nearly 5 full minutes about... himself! He talked and talked and talked about things that had nothing to do with the subject at hand, derailing the whole flow. And then, incredibly, he went off about anarchists. Or, as I believe he called them, "so-called anarchists." He referred to them as "adolescents," as "agent provocateurs," and as "people dressed like it's halloween." (Oh, you mean like aging hippies in tie-dye? Oh, no wait. That would probably be Will.) He was mostly angry that he wasn't getting enough airplay on TV. He said that he and his cronies are out there "trying to stop a war," and indicated that the people dressed in black are getting too damn much attention to suit him. Then he said that these anarchists are "doing exactly what Bush and Cheney want them to do." (God, what a sad, tired, clueless old line.) He actually had the gall to accuse the black bloc of "staging" altercations with the police, and of being in league with them. That's right, this dumbass sat there on community radio, laying a false jacket on comrades, and Joanne and Alejandro sat there and let him do it. Neither interrupted him, neither challenged him at all.

I couldn't believe my ears. I suppose it didn't surprise me too much coming from Joanne, whom I have grown fond of despite her inability to challenge the liberal death grip on her mind. But Alejandro, why? Why didn't you say something? The NWCRC has always come to the aid of anarchists and others who were brutalized by the police. They stand out there, shoulder to shoulder with us in the streets. Their legal observers are beaten and pepper sprayed right along with us. They have mountains of video tape depicting police brutality against radical activists. They KNOW who we are. They KNOW the truth. Why, Alejandro, did you not speak up? Were you too shy? Was it because Joanne kept cutting you off? Was it because this Will person seemed so far afield of anything anyone had been talking about before that he seemed irrelevant?

This was not the kind of thing to just let pass like that.

Please, NWCRC, and KBOO, please speak out against this kind of baiting, this laying of false jackets. This man sat there and accused people of bringing police violence upon themselves. Not only that, but he actually accused them of "staging" this violence. People who have been beaten and traumatized for their political beliefs. For standing up for what they believe in, for what is right. How could you let this man get away with saying that, without so much as a soft rebuttal? Joanne and Alejandro, I love you both. You both do outstanding work in the community. So please, speak up and let people know that you do not support anything that Will said this morning.

This "Will" person went on to complain, at great length, about how the anarchists (radicals?) "steal away the spotlight" from him and his friends, who are trying to get their message out. He was very, very concerned about how much media play these anarchists, these "adolescents" get. Clearly, he was not concerned about the police violence, nor really even about "stopping a war." Rather, he was interested in being "in the spotlight," in being a celebrity, an important guy. And he felt that these "adolescents" were unfairly taking media attention away from him. And rather than challenge any of his assertions that the radicals "have it coming" when the police beat them up, Joanne merely echoed his concerns that the media shows too much of "those people" and not enough of the "peaceful" demonstrators. What?!

Perhaps Will needs to reflect on just what he thinks he's actually doing out there, marching around in the streets. Is he really "trying to stop a war"? If so, how does he imagine that marching around being important, or holding a candle at a peace vigil is going to accomplish that? What is the long term strategy there? Or is Will just trying to get his 15 minutes of fame? Because that's what it sounds like to me. And either way, he's going about this all wrong. If you really want to stop a war, then you need to unify the resistance. You need to stop dissing other activists, stop undermining their work with stupid and false accusations, and you need to recognize a dead horse when you see one. The marching-in-a-circle horse is dead. Get up off it and MOVE. DO SOMETHING. That way, you will be more likely to actually help the flow of resistance, and yes, you might even be more likely to get oon TV. If that's what you care about. You don't need to dress in black bloc if you don't want to, but you better stop helping the police state to oppress those who do, because it's very likely that they are your only chance to ever really stop that war.

Yes, so I was pretty disgusted and angry after listening to this. It had been such a good and informative show up till then. I would love to hear Joanne or Alejandro speak up here, to say that they do not support what this idiot Will said and that they should have said more on that this morning.

Upcoming Forum at Laughing Horse on PDX Antiwar Movement Sat June 16 24.May.2007 14:11

Lew Church, PSU Progressive Student Union lewchurch@gmail.com

On Saturday, June 16, at 6pm, at Laughing Horse Books, 12 NE 10th, just off Burnside (on TriMet routes #12, 19 and 20), close to Doug Fir, there will be an open forum (facilitated forum) on "Portland's Antiwar Movement in the Fifth Year of the Iraq War." Based in part on Don McIntosh's recent WWeek critique of PDX's big rallies on the "subthemes" issue, this forum will also look at wider organizing issues, locally and nationally: Is yelling at empty buildings in big marches on weekends an effective strategy to actually stop the war? (especially when Congressional Demmocrats just negotiated with Bush to NOT have deadlines in the current war funding bill). Is Portland's "peace witness" approach, as Don McIntyre has noted, anything more than self-affirmation, with little reference to genocide already occuring in Iraq (a US genocide since Reagan supported Hussein against Iran, post-Shah??)? Are Portland's big rallies and marches (absolutely!!!) "successful" at turning out large numbers of people? Can marches be successful even if they are ineffective in their stated goals?? Cheney and Gen. Petreus both say, after five years, the "Iraq war is just getting started." The US apparently occupied the Philippines for 50 years, and occupied Haiti for 20 years. What sorts of tactics, locally and globally [and strategy?] might interefere with the US war machine's ability to continue the wars of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, the proxy war in Lebanon/Palestine and Gaza, and the 'October surprise' of another 1953/Mossadegh-style war against Iran, on or before the Nov. 2008 election?

The format of this forum, in Laughing Horse's new location, will be to facilitate those voices excluded or marginalized from "three minute time limits" or even from attending meetings of the middle class/big march planning meetings, but to allow reps (Will Seaman/Dan Handleman??) from the big marches to talk, but not to dominate, discussion, at this particular "antiwar evaluation" meeting.

Are there lessons, for example, from the UK antislavery movement, in terms of organizing strategy and tactics, to be gleaned vis-a-vis stopping this current Iraq War by the U.S.? Wilberforce was conservative on most issues, but it was the Quakers and Thomas Clarkson, who (although it took 40 years) eventually got the UK slave trade banned? Is there something akin to the "sugar boycott" used then against UK slavery, that the current antiwar movement is missing, as an ecomomic target to stop the Iraq War? Did UK slave trading end, overall, because of the efforts of Toussaint L'Overture and Henri Christophe, not just the anti-slavery lobby in London and Manchester?

The June 16 forum at Laughing Horse Books at 6pm to evaluate Portland's antiwar movement, in Year 5 of the Iraq War, is facilitated by PSU Progressive Student Union.


PO Box 40011, Portland, Oregon 97240

A brief response 24.May.2007 16:20

Alejandro Queral, NWCRC info@nwcrc.org

Thank you Listener, for expressing your well-founded concerns. The answer to your question is very simple: Personally, I did not feel like responding to "Will" would have been a good use of our time; the attention and air time wasted by responding to him would have accomplished his goal of spreading a senseless, worthless "message" but nothing else. I disagreed with him thoroughly, of course, but we were trying to get as many questions for Leslie Stevens about the police review division and its lack of independence, as well as the use of force report, which failed to analyze use of force by race and gender. So, while I am sympathetic to your outrage about this person's comments, I do not believe they deserved much of a response in the context of the radio show. I agree with you though, that dumping him sooner may have made more sense.

Thank you, Alejandro 24.May.2007 22:55


Thank you for hearing me, and for having the character to speak to what I said in such a respectful manner. (A lesser man would have become really defensive.) I understand your reluctance to engage with this person, since he was so off topic in the first place that you probably just wanted him to go away. However, I still think it would have been better to speak up, even if just briefly. The problem is, there are a lot of clueless people out there who think the way he does. When they are allowed to spread a message like that without being challenged on it, it becomes dangerous for all of us. Because these are the building blocks that create a climate of crackdown and oppression. Every time some clueless (I'll say it) liberal makes a statement like that in public, it strengthens the police state's "good dissenter/bad dissenter" tactic, whereby those who sit on their asses and do nothing are "good" and those who do anything at all are "bad," and violence against the "bad" dissenters is excused and justified in the guise of protecting the good.

I am heartened to know that you disagreed with him (though I had guessed that much already). I would still hope that the next time such an opportunity arises, you could speak up. Just a short, "Wow, that's kind of off topic, and I really disagree with you on that but we need to move on" would do it.

Thanks again, though, for having the respect to respond to what I said. And also for all the great work that you do.

Upcoming Forum 26.May.2007 10:33


I appreciate the efforts of this group, PSU Progressive Student Union, to put on this forum and it sounds like a wonderful opportunity to get together and talk. I especially like the facilitated, safe aspects of it.

The problem I see is that it has been planned for Pride weekend here in Portland. If this was an oversight, it makes me sad that the PSU Student group perhaps doesn't have any queer students in it who could have said, "Actually, lots of queers are going to be busy that weekend, let's choose another date."
And if the Student Union WAS aware of the weekend and chose to hold their event that day anyway, then they have effectively eliminated most queers from their discussion as we celebrate the only gathering of the year where we are truely safe and accepted- no queer I know would pass that up to attend a forum, no matter how important it may be.

I understand that an initial response might be, "But there's always SOMEthing going on in Portland, we can't avoid everything." But Pride isn't just "something," Pride is a HUGE citywide event which only happens once per year. And the use of Pride weekend for this forum just seems one more way that queers are minimalized and excluded from activist events.

So while I'm glad to see that this is being set up, I hope groups in the future will ensure they are picking a date where all types of activists can be present.