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N17 Occupy the Banks, photos & reportback

N17 marked the two month anniversary of OWS, who put out a call for a day of action to block bridges, occupy banks, and other creative protest actions nationwide. In Portland, the day began with a peaceful blockade of Steele Bridge shortly after 8 AM by 25 labor and other activists. The police were on their "best behavior," arresting the activists one by one, in an orderly routine. Hours later, the gloves came off, when hundreds of protestors marched downtown to "occupy" the banks. It was back to paramilitary policing, and the indiscriminate use of pepper spray, night sticks, horses, bikes, motorbikes and riot cops to attack unarmed protestors.
N17 marked the two month anniversary of OWS, who put out a call for a day of action to block bridges, occupy banks, and other creative protest actions nationwide. In Portland, the day began with a peaceful blockade of Steele Bridge shortly after 8 AM by 25 labor and other activists. The police were on their "best behavior," arresting the activists one by one, in an orderly routine.

Hours later, the gloves came off, when hundreds of protestors marched downtown to "occupy" the banks, responsible for much of the economic hardship and the suffering of millions of students, homeowners and workers, caused by the big banks' greed, corruption and fraud. It was back to paramilitary policing, and the indiscriminate use of pepper spray, night sticks, horses, bikes, motorbikes and riot cops to attack unarmed protestors. The cops constantly ordered us to "Stay on the sidewalks," and there were cops everywhere, boxing us in on the sidewalks, and even blocking streets to make sure we complied. Which we did, for the most part. Some protestors dared to defy the order, and for a few brief moments, made an unexpected turn and ran into the streets, leaving the cops flummoxed and furious. That's when cops attacked protestors, beating them with sticks, and called in the horses and that big white truck with the eerie loudspeaker, bellowing constant threats to attack us with chemical weapons.

But we did successfully shut down several banks that day, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chase, which decided to close, rather than be "occupied" by angry citizens. A group of several protestors sat down in front of the locked doors of Chase Bank on Yamhill and 6th Avenue, near Pioneer Square. While the protestors were communicating their intent to be arrested in non-violent civil disobedience with the cops who had entered the bank, hundreds of cops suddenly arrived outside the bank. Cops on horses and riot cops blocked the entrance to the bank, and shoved protestors down the streets, beating the bewildered protestors who were standing on the sidewalks and not doing anything. Several folks were pepper sprayed, including one woman who got a full blast in her face. Another guy was also pepper sprayed, and was howling in pain. One man was hurt badly (I was told his leg was broken during the police riot), and had to be taken away in an ambulance.

After this ridiculous show of unprovoked police brutality, hundreds of people stood on the sidewalks, tensely watching, and booing angrily at the cops. A clown with pink hair showed up on his bike and stood in the middle of the street, making faces at the riot cops, providing a little surreal comic relief. Shortly after, the cops decided to leave; we responded to their abrupt departure with more loud boos. People soon filled the streets, but allowed buses and MAX trains to pass, with cheers and smiles. About 48 people were arrested.

OWS protests in NYC drew a massive turnout; thousands of workers, students and occupiers attempted to shut down Wall Street, occupy subways, banks and Brooklyn Bridge. Over 300 people were arrested. Protests were held in many cities nationwide, including Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, Miami, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Seattle, St. Louis, Boston, Milwaukee, Nashville, Columbia (SC) and Washington, DC.