Report Back and Photogs of September 29, 2007 Portland Rally and March
Today, September 29, 2007, in the streets of downtown Portland, citizens gathered to voice their outrage at the Occupation of Iraq and the slowly growing drum beat for war with Iran.
For a city as anti war and anti Bush as Portland, today's event seemed moderate, one could almost say mediocre. There was a fair amount of people in attendance, perhaps 200-300 at the rally in the north Park blocks and easily over 700 or so as the march swelled to its conclusion in front of the World Trade Center.
Yet, Portland gathered 30,000 or more a few years ago, and that was before the enormous U.S. casualties and criminal slaughter of perhaps a million innocent Iraqi citizens. Not to mention the victims from earlier phases of this war under George Bush Sr. and the sanctions and bombardments under the Clinton administration.
And too, not to mention the slow motion deaths, injuries and birth defects due to the use of radioactive weapons, deliberately mislabeled as "Depleted" Uranium.
Yea, as this country meekly marches towards a war with Iran, submits to another round of lies and dissimulations by a swaggering and cowardly Empire, only a handful step up, stand out and shout down the arrogant imperialists, the greedy capitalists, the sycophantic legislators and spineless media.
I marched beside and with the crowd, applauding their spirited chants, smiled at the creative signs, often humorous in the face of growing gloom. Many stood up and spoke brave words, uplifting and rhyming with harmony and melody the many causes which brought people together again in the streets of downtown Portland: Free Palestine, Impeachment, Health Care for All, Impeachment, 911, Impeachment, the travesty that is the forgotten war in Afghanistan, Impeachment, Fair Trade, and many, many more.
The "cool" bus from the forest advocacy campaign served as podium for the speakers, both at the beginning rally, at two stops along the way and finally at the World Trade Center where tables were set up for some of the 50 or so groups who organized and participated in the event.
After some anti war music, the initial Rally first featured an Iraqi woman who urged us to remember the reparations we owe to her people, even if the troops were to come home. She was followed by Hala Gores, a Palestinian American who spoke of what our 3 billion dollars of aide to Israel is buying every year. It builds walls that completely surrounds 12 villages, preventing farmers from reaching their fields, workers from getting to their jobs, children from attending school, and the sick from securing health care. It demolishes 1000's of homes and destroys 1000's of olive and citrus groves.
Later along the path a speaker from Military Families Speak Out spoke of the war and of his son who has been to Iraq and will have to return. And later still a man spoke up about Lumumba Ford, a Portland Black Muslim sent to prison, charged with terrorism under the PATRIOT Act, but ostensibly to prove that our war on terror is effective and protecting the American people.
At the World Trade Center various speakers took the microphone: Ghourdz Eghtedari, an Iranian man who clarified much of the lies and propaganda spewing from the Bush administration and it's codependent Corporate media; a member of the Freedom Socialist Party; a young man speaking for PDXPeace, a lawyer speaking about further excesses of the PATRIOT Act, and others I wasn't able to catch.
Though the group was relatively small, it was united with an abhorrence for war and yearning for global Justice. I suspect that for every brave spirit who took to the street there are thousands, 10's of thousands whose busy lives or fear to speak out prevented them from adding their voice to the
crescendo of resistance to U.S. imperialism and repression of peoples everywhere upon this planet.
According to the Defense Department's annual "Base Structure Report" for fiscal year 2003, which itemizes foreign and domestic U.S. military real estate, the Pentagon currently owns or rents 702 overseas bases in about 130 countries and has another 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories.
As the bumper sticker says, " Be nice to America or we'll bring Democracy to your country."
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