(This article is adapted from a Report Back on the event from Portland Peace and Justice Works. The Report also includes coverage of the Teach-In at First Unitarian Church which is not in the video)|
The first speaker was John Grueschow of Portland War Resisters League who talked about countering military recruitment in the schools, and requested the assistance of the community in this regard.
Mireaya Medina of Portland American Friends Service Committee spoke next. She brought up the AFSC youth group, most of whom were attending their first rally, to emphasize the importance of youth for peace.
The music of "Loose Change" got people ready to march--for the first time in memory, the march was ready to go before the permit said we could so he police wouldn't let us start till 12:30, where they usually are bugging us to get started. At least they were generally hands-off and invisible during the march.
The no war drum corps led the way most of the route, with chants about Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine energizing the crowd.
At the First Unitarian Church people socialized, ate food, checked out the many literature tables, and headed up for the panel discussion on US Foreign Policy.
The Teach-In moderator, Shizuko Hashimoto of Portland Central America Solidarity Committee , did a great job laying the groundwork and keeping things moving.
Dan Handelman of the Peace and Justice Works Iraq Affinity Group ended up speaking about Iraq as many Iraqi friends were busy or feeling worn down from so many years of war and occupation. Dan talked about the history of the sanctions and "Gulf War I" as well as the present situation with almost 100,000 US Troops still there. Grant Farr of PSU spoke about Afghanistan and the mess that the US has made, including an increase in corruption and opium trade.
Goudarz Eghtedari from American Iranian Friendship Council covered the US policy in Iran, also talking about the people in Iran who have been organizing themselves for a democratic future. Wael Elasady of Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights described the somewhat hopeful recent news that the US has condemned Israeli settlement expansion in Palestinian East Jerusalem, but noted that was just a blip in the status quo and we must keep struggling to end that US-funded occupation.
Taj Suleyman of Center For Intercultural Organizing described the unique situations of Somalia, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, talking not only about how the countries interact with one another but how and why the US is involved in their affairs.
Ann Huntwork used a baby doll to illustrate the brutality of torturers in Central and South American trained by the US School of the Americas. Josh Simpson of Coffee Strong described his background as a GI resister after his first tour of duty in Iraq, but then detailed US policy in Venezuela, Colombia, Honduras and Haiti, which is under yet another apparent form of occupation.
Wrapping up the panel was Adele Kubein of Military Families Speak Out, who urged people to think about the effects of war on families here and in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the years of hard work it takes for activists to win their struggles--though we eventually do.
About 1/2 hour of Questions and Answers wrapped up the panel and the "teach-in" concluded with more visits to literature tables and friendly goodbyes.
Overall, a lot of hard work paid off and we showed that Portlanders want the troops home now!