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Pioneer Square: NOT just for Shoppers!

Downtown has steadily been becoming more and more a thing of the corporate interests who populate the buildings around Pioneer Square. Ordinances have been passed which have, by inches and degrees, driven out the people of downtown to make things more comfortable for the hordes of consumers who flock there to spend their money on frivolities from stores like Macys. Now, in Portland's living room, free speech expression is under attack as well.
For going on 6 years now, PPRC has met, drummed and marched from the NE corner of Pioneer Square every Friday like clockwork, BUT
Last Friday's rally was told in no uncertain terms: if you continue to do
what you've been doing for the past six years, you will be issued a
citation. What was it that we were doing? Using a megaphone or playing
drums. PPRC has been doing both at Pioneer Courthouse Square for over
half of this current decade, and with no problems. We've never received a
complaint from the city of Portland. We've never received a complaint
from any of the downtown businesses. Indeed, the city of Portland's noise
control office hadn't received complaints until recent weeks when Pioneer
Courthouse Square, Inc. (a corporation created to manage PCS, which is a
city park) decided to flex a little muscle.

PCS, Inc., said that they had to enforce a ban on the use of any sound
amplification (which included our little megaphone and our drums). They
said that they felt compelled to enforce this ban on the Friday rally
because they were concerned that others might complain of selective
enforcement if they didn't enforce it against the Friday rally. When
asked if anybody or any group had based such a complaint on our 6-year
traditions at Pioneer Courthouse Square, they quickly changed the
subject. After repeating the question a few times, however, their
spokesperson confessed that nobody had ever yet made such an argument;
they wanted to pre-empt any such attempt.

PPRC is now exploring whether and how to challenge this effort to muzzle
the Friday rally. We will continue to drum and to use the megaphone on
the streets, but while we're on Pioneer Courthouse Square, we will have
only our voices.

Will you join us this Friday to add your voice to our chorus for peace
and justice in the coming new year? With each voice, our message becomes
stronger, stronger than any battery-powered megaphone or drum, stronger
than any city ordinance, stronger than the plans of a private corporation
to reduce our downtown public park to a commercial zone for
advertisements, a space merely bridging one department store to another.
Help us to keep the message of peace and justice loud and clear in
Portland's living room. Please join us this Friday, or any other Friday,
at 5PM, for the weekly rally for peace and justice.
For peace, for justice, for solidarity,

PPRC General Meeting

Time for PPRC to radicalize a little 28.Dec.2007 18:50

anonymous or made up

Keep doing what you're doing, and let them cite you. I bet there are any number of activist lawyers in this town who would love to challenge this on constitutional grounds. In fact, why not call one of them? Check with the NW Constitutional Rights Center, the National Lawyers' Guild, Paul Loney, or any number of others.

Here's the thing, PPRC. You can "play by the rules" and play by the rules and play by the rules. But then you find, like the rest of us have already found, that the rules keep changing. You give an inch, they take a mile. That's why the rest of us have been asking you not to seek permits and etc all this time. You've been good campers all this time. Pat yourselves on the backs, and now break some rules. Play your drums, shout through your megaphone, and let them try to cite you. We still have the US Constitution, or what is left of it, and it's still worth fighting for. Don't just roll over for them.

By the way, who was it that told you you had to have a permit? Was it the police? Or was it the Clean and Safe people? Either way, fuck them. (And now you know why peace cops are so irritating, too. Reinforcing stupid, unconstitutional rules is just helping the fascists.)

don't give in, please! 30.Dec.2007 22:22

just your average joe NOT wanting to live in a police state

don't give in, please! There's more than a few attorneys and/or orgs to have your back!

in solidarity

Free Speech 31.Dec.2007 02:12

Joe Anybody iam@joe-anybody.com

Here is a short outtake from the last Friday pioneer courthouse 5 o'clock peace march

A Free Speech, ...by a citizens in their living room - 12/28

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtLVueaHysY

FREE SPEECH
FREE SPEECH

5 o'clock Peace March <video> 12/28 31.Dec.2007 10:39

Joe Anybody

The Portland Peaceful Response Committee has their 5 o'clock Peace March.
Before the march starts, there is a serious constitutional issue discussed... The right to free Speech!

This is a 40 minute Google video of the speakers at Pioneer Courthouse and then the rally through the streets on Friday 12/28 in Portland
 http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2714662409700523691

PPRC video
PPRC video

Suggestion / kind-of-a-loophole 31.Dec.2007 22:06

Ben Waiting

How about using an old style "speakers cone"
Like the type you see at sporting events or at a circus?
Cheap and Effective

Hey my other idea was a hidden speaker<s> with a (hidden) remote mic...!

How about suing the city again? 01.Jan.2008 02:05

Nathana Hale

The three entities contracted/subcontracted by the City of Portland to provide security in parks—Portland Business Alliance, Pioneer Courthouse Square, Inc., Portland Patrol, Inc.—apparently are either ignorant about or deliberately ignoring the federal and Oregon Supreme Court recent rulings protecting activists' First Amendment rights. In the last four years, verdicts have declared one city ordinance/state law unconstitutional when police interpreted its stipulations of "disorderly conduct" and disobeying a police order to disperse could be applied to political activists on streets and in Portland parks.

It might be well that activists sue again to require those rulings be included in training PPI personnel and posted both in their quarters as well as those of PBA, PCSI, and the City Attorney.

The first case lost by the city involved a state law [ORS 166.025 (1)(e)] and combined two events: Twelve activists opposing President Clinton's 1998 bomb runs over Iraqi air space and, in 2000, those arrested in a South Park Blocks May Day melee set off by overreactive police. Though sworn to support and defend the Constitution, Portland police obviously had no more idea about its First Amendment than do today's PPI employees who are permitted to carry guns.

By 2003, more than 135 anti-war demonstrators had been arrested under that law. Aided by two legal entities (National Lawyers' Guild, ACLU of Oregon), activists finally sued the city on grounds that applying that law to demonstrators or union members and families was unconstitutional. In 2004, the Oregon Supreme Court agreed.

The second case involved the city's 30-day "exclusionary" ordinance (PCC 20.12.265), designed to rid parks of "undesirables." In April 2002, police arrested two women soliciting petition signatures legalizing medical marijuana. Aided by the Oregon Law Center, they successfully sued the city and Pioneer Courthouse Square, Inc. in U.S. District Court over the unconstitutionality of the ordinance when applied to activists.

The judge ruled the ordinance indeed violated not only the First Amendment's speech and assembly rights, but the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of procedural and substantive due process. The women also were permitted to sue the city for damages.

Police paid attention. Exclusionary citations dropped from an annual 2,500 to 1,500, but the lesson seems to have been lost once PPI employees were hired to police the parks. PPI haressment of activists began almost from the moment its proprietor, a former police officer, signed the PBA contract in 2006. One of these PPI rent-a-cops threatened to arrest an activist distributing literature in the Square on the laughable grounds that this downtown park and surrounding sidewalks were "private property." That included one of the 63,000 enscribed bricks she bought a daughter in 1981 when brick sales earned nearly a million dollars for the Square. Not to mention taxpayers' seed monies ($1.5 million from the federal government; $100,000 from the state).

Harassment of political activists has intensified in recent months, culminating on December 21 with the decibel ban leveled against the PPRC.

The PCSI spokesperson indicated the group's Friday rallies just outside the Square (corner of Yamhill & Broadway) exceeded Portland noise codes (55 decibels—ice-cream truck maximums) because of a bull-horn and the No War Drum Corps music. Complaints had come from business owners and visitors to the Square, they were told. First time in six years, they declared. PPRC leaders pointed out that among the Square's 300 annual events, several were far noisier (e.g., Tuba Christmas, Mexican independence celebration) and and lasted far longer (the three-day Italian festa) than the group's 30-minute rally. PCSI's retort was that these events were given noise variances.

It will be interesting—especially to a court—if PPRC seeks and is denied a noise variance. It's doubtful that a judge will deem peace, patriotism and the Constitution of far less importance to the public than, say, the boisterous Love Rally or El Grito events.

Meantime, it might be worth PPRC leaders reminding city officials about these two First Amendment cases, plus losing that most expensive one ($300,000 to 11 plaintiffs, $545,000 to their attorneys): The Hilton hotel police riot of May 22, 2002 when President Bush arrived for a Sen. Gordon Smith fundraiser. Today, the calibre, ignorance, and swagger of PPI personnel playing Blackwater wannabes could lead to an even costlier and/or bloodier results if activists tire of being civil and law abiding to the uncivil and lawless.

To prevent these consequences, a flood of email reminders about these cases from activists to the City Attorney might be a good start in ending the decibel ban on PPRC. So would a posted notice about those cases and much needed training of PCSI/PPI employees about activists' First Amendment rights.

The Public Square 02.Jan.2008 15:29

a citizen

When I first realized that protesters couldn't have any unmoving sign, table, etc., at Pioneer Square, I became very heated. I beleived that we need to reclaim the square, but I could see that we are tied up with bigger political issues.

It's horrifying but not surprising to find that these restrictions have grown, both in and out of Pioneer Square. I don't go into town very often, but have noticed that the square looks very different these days now that virtually all social activity has been dispersed.

Some day we are going to have to reclaim the square. Whether one group stands up to restrictions or whether we create a "Free Pioneer Square" group, I don't believe that any court would agree that a place can both ostensibly seem to be a public square, yet simulaneously not be one (re first amendment). Of course, whether our constitution stands remains to be seen. And you can always be arrested, whether you are right or wrong.

Ultimately, I suggest we take our megaphones, drums, tables and literature, TV and videos, and impress on others the meaning of free speech and a public square. Once this issue is settled, we can continue our work.

Here's your permit 03.Jan.2008 14:26

Andy

When they ask you for your permit, hand them a copy of the First Amendment to the Constitution

Peace March to City Hall - PPR 5 pm Rally 1/4/08 <video> 07.Jan.2008 11:28

Joe Anybody iam@joe-anybody.com

Well Indy Readers

Here is "the next weeks video" I made from the recent rally:
 http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3821938770285476905

This was the film from 1/4/2008
Its a 40 minute video of (speeches) and includes the march to City Hall

No arrest no tickets no problems .... (this time)
I was told the "noise-policeman/ticket-writer was sick on this day, but would be out next time!"

See you next time ........ this Friday @ 5:00

Be There !!
Be There !!