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On Sunday, September 30, the Portland Peaceful Response Coalition (PPRC) held a peace action downtown. A rally in Pioneer Square featured a diversity of speakers, and was followed by a march to PSU. Afterwards, there was a panel discussion on Afghanistan at PSU's Campus Ministries, where a photo exhibit will be on display for the next month.
Since the September 11 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., peace actions have been taking place all over the United States. On the 16th, the PPRC held a downtown rally, and on the 20th, students at Reed College held a vigil (pictured) in conjunction with a National Student Day of Action for Peaceful Justice coordinated by students at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.
Solidarity actions called by other groups have been held in Eugene and Corvallis, where organizers highlighted the ties between military build-up and corporate globalization.
September 24 was a regional old growth day of action with actions in Eugene, Olympia, Portland, Ashland and Roseburg. Here in Portland, activists gathered at Waterfront Park for a rally and then a march to the Forest Service Building to present a letter of demands to the Forest Service. The rally was kicked off by music. Though the weather was rainy, the spirits were bright and enthusiastic. There were 75 people along with some colourful costumes and signs. Police presence seemed heavy for such a peaceful action (about 20 officers), but there was no trouble. Security at the Forest Service kept the building locked up tight, and carefully orchestrated the delivery of the activists' letter.
Earlier this month, Pictsweet Mushrooms announced they will be closing their plant in Salem in mid-November. Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN), Oregon's farmworker union, sees this action as union-busting, claiming, that "the company has steadfastly refused to negotiate with workers in the plant who have demanded union recognition." According to PCUN, some workers suspect that this is just a plan by Pictsweet to reopen later with a new, nonunion workforce.
U.S. government officials and corporate media correspondents are suggesting that the coming days or hours could bring a declaration of war from Congress and "overwhelming" U.S. military strikes against foreign targets. In contrast to this bellicose mood, over 2300 people gathered in Portland on Sunday, September 16, to memorialize those who died in last Tuesday's attacks on the East Coast, and to demand that the U.S. government not go to war in response. Though this march was unpermitted, Portland police allowed it to take over the streets, and blocked intersections for the crowd. Signs, banners, and speakers all expressed messages of peace, in contrast to the drive for vengeance being encouraged by the government and much of the population.
The newly-formed Portland Peaceful Response made the call for the event. The coalition decribes itself as "individuals and groups from many diverse backrounds united for a singlular cause: to see a peaceful resolution to these events, and to promote and protect the peace of those who may be unduly discriminated against as a result."
Emergency protest: At the Sunday rally, Portland activists reiterated that in the case of sudden events such as "retaliatory bombings", an emergency protest will take place in Terry Schrunk Plaza. The demonstration will take place from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. on the day of attacks, if they start before 4:00 p.m., and the day after attacks, if they start after 4:00 p.m. The plaza is located downtown, across the street from City Hall, at SW 3rd & Madison. [ Details ]
Reacting to discrimination and war-lust: Local activists are also offering suggestions for how to "combat anti-Arab racism and rampant jingoism" here in Portland. [ Read more ]
In the wake of the attacks on U.S. soil, Afghanistan and its ruling Taliban are at the center of media attention. The Taliban, whose name means "holy student," was created by the the Pakistani Intelligence Agency (ISI), and developed during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The Taliban army consists of Muslim fundamentalist mercenaries from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, armed and financed primarily by the United States and Saudi Arabia. Over the last six years the Taliban have gained control over 90% of the country. (Until recently the Taliban have been referred to as 'freedom fighters' in the western press.)
Many people in Portland are deeply concerned about the events that are unfolding after the recent attacks on NYC and DC: U.S. government officials are making calls for a "massive" military retaliation against the unknown perpetrators; personal attacks against Arab-Americans are being reported; corporate media coverage is dominated by bellicose viewpoints. However, citizens who wish to speak out against this state of affairs in public might soon find their First Amendment rights limited. On Wednesday, 26 September, the City Council will be voting on a resolution that will change the permit process for events in public spaces. The measure will raise the fees, give the Police department greater control over the approval process, and require organizers to give their names and contact information. If attendance at an event exceeds the estimates supplied in the paperwork, the city will be able to fine organizers $500. Although this resolution was introduced before Tuesday's attacks, some activists are fearful that this is only the first of many government-sponsored assaults on civil liberties in the name of "security".
Any citizen may contact the City Recorder Auditor's Office by phone or email to sign up for a comment slot at the City Council meeting where this issue will be decided. The Joint Terrorism Task Force, the activities of which are also viewed by many as dangerous to civil liberties, is up for renewal that day as well.
In the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, about 150 Portland citizens gathered Tuesday evening to consider appropriate responses. People spoke about the tide of prejudice against Arab-Americans that is already rising, their opposition to any violent retribution on other countries by the U.S. government, and their concerns about a culture that many are expecting to become more repressive toward dissent. Representatives of the National Lawyers' Guild gave advice on defending one's rights, and offered to support people involved in these struggles who have problems with law enforcement.
The United States government has a well-documented history of suspending civil liberties and oppressing minority groups during times of war or crisis. With emotions running high, a corporate-backed conservative administration in the White House, and an official partnership between Portland Police and the FBI, fears of resurgent neo-fascism seem well-placed. The group of Portlanders who met Tuesday night seemed ready to resist any such illegal tyranny committed in the name of national security, and to stand up for their fellow citizens who might become targets of the general populace.
KBOO 90.7 FM Is offering comprehensive coverage of the events free of hysteria and finger pointing. They suspended their Fall pledge drive on Tuesday and dedicated the day to offering more information and taking calls on the air. Throughout this tragedy, KBOO has lived up to their admirable title of Community Radio by being very thoughtful and supportive.
LOCAL INFO: [ Schedule of meetings/actions | "Know Your Rights": National Lawyer's Guild info ]
Expansion is on the horizon for People's Food Co-op. After years of planning, the Co-op is scheduled to break ground on Wednesday, September 26th, having recently secured a large loan necessary for the $700,000 project. Efforts are now being made to raise the final $50,000 so that the project may commence as scheduled this fall.
An expansion benefit is planned for Sunday, September 16th. The event will take place at SEIU Hall on 26th and Powell from 3PM- 9PM. Music, food, a raffle, and a silent auction are scheduled. In addition a harvest and ground-breaking celebration is planned for Wednesday, September 26th at the Farmer's Market at People's. For more information call the store at 503.232.9051.
The Homeless Liberation Front (HLF) is currently protesting the recent eviction of Dignity Village, and issues regarding homelessness in general, by camping out at a site called the "Field of Dreams", near the waterfront in downtown Portland. Negotiations between the city and Dignity Village, a community of self organizing and self regulating homeless persons, recently ended with the Village grudgingly moving to a site many deemed unlivable. [See "Dignity Village residents vacate site" feature, below.] Some of the residents refused to go to the new site; local activists have joined them to challenge the city by setting up this new campsite. Portland Police have told the HLF that they will be subject to arrest starting at one minute after midnight on Monday night. On Sunday, HLF held a press conference to air their concerns. No corporate media attended. Alternative media activists are on-site overnight to report any new developments in this story. HLF organizers are strongly encouraging those who care about homeless issues to visit the site, which is located at Naito Parkway and Harrison Street.Update 10:00 pm Monday
Critical Mass riders experienced a great victory on their August ride. While their focus is to celebrate the use of bikes instead of cars to raise awareness for bicycle transportation, the last year has been spent fending off extreme police presence and force. The victory on Friday was a ride free of police while traveling in the Central Precinct and across to the east side. As the ride passed an officer in his squad car, he raised his hand to offer the group a peace sign. This progress came as the result of a few participants dialoguing with the police outside of rides.
Wednesday, 1:15 p.m. UPDATE: Indymedia reports from Dignity Village that the homeless community has decided to vacate their site. Some residents will be going to the city-sanctioned parcel near the airport, and others will be staying with supporters or have made other plans. Portland Police will be moving residents to the new site by bus and truck rather than arresting them. According to a statement released by Dignity Village organizers, Eccumenical Ministries of Oregon and non-profit organization City Repair will be among the groups helping residents make improvements to the city parcel. [ Statement from Dignity Village ]
Tuesday, 11:30 a.m. UPDATE: Police arrived at Dignity Village. They told residents that they must vacate the site by noon Wednesday, which is a 24-hour extension of the last deadline given by the city. Anyone still there at that time will be subject to arrest and all possessions subject to seizure. [ Read more | Analysis | Call for support ]
Tuesday, 10:00 a.m. UPDATE: Organizers at Dignity Village have received word from a source inside City Hall that the city plans to "make a sweep" of the homeless encampment between noon and 2:00 p.m. today, in order to evict the residents. Villagers are hoping that as many people as possible can come to site to show their support for their community. [ Read the appeal from Dignity Village | Suggestion to "Contact Vera Katz" ]
New IMCs were recently launched in South Africa, Portugal, and New Jersey. St. Louis, Missouri, will also soon have its own IMC. Activists in dozens of other cities worldwide are in the process of setting up still more. As this growth is occuring, Indymedia activists are creating a global decision-making process, based on months of meetings and discussions. Here in Portland, the IMC is forging ties with other alternative media organizations such as KBOO, the Alliance, the Microradio Implementation Project, and the Cascadia Media Collective, in what promises to be a long-term effort to provide truthful, non-corporate coverage of regional events and issues.
(Salem, OR)--According to the Cascadia Forest Alliance (CFA), about 30 protesters who arrived at the Salem Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office on August 29 to demonstrate against two timber auctions were met by "well over 50 heavily armed and undercover federal, state and local police officers". The auctions were for the rights to log on BLM parcels named "Rusty Saw" and "Fawn Creek", and marked the beginning of what is expected to be a flood of federal timber auctions of public land before the Federal Government fiscal year ends September 30. CFA activists erected a 25-foot high tripod structure in front of the BLM office as camouflaged snipers walked the roof of the building and a SWAT team stood guard. CFA reaffirmed its stance that "any logging of ancient forests on public lands will be met with determined non-violent civil disobedience and protest."
This weekend, September 1st & 2nd, there will be a Teach-in & Camp-Out for Forest Protection at the Slinky Timber Sale in Mt. Hood National Forest. The Slinky Timber sale proposes to log 195 acres of mature and ancient forest with 190 acres of that being clear-cut. This is one of over 40 timber sales being planned in the Mt. Hood National Forest alone. Carpools will meet at 10 am at the Daily Grind on SE Hawthorne and 41st in Portland on Saturday, September 1st.
The Teach-In and Camp-Out will include hikes of some beautiful but threatened mature and old growth forests, an introduction to Forest Issues in the Pacific Northwest, and workshops on a variety of tactics that can be used to protect public forests. There will be music Saturday night by Danny Dolinger.
The east-bound sidewalk of the Hawthorne Bridge was filled for ten full minutes today by a long line of people marching in support of City of Portland employees, who are currently negotiating a new contract with the city through the District Council of Trade Unions (DCTU). Union members will be voting on the proposed contract in the next couple of weeks. While it is not known how the vote will turn out, many rank and file members are dissatisfied with the health care provisions, believing that the city should pay more than it has offered. This sentiment was expressed with the chant, "Cut the crap / Raise the cap!" A broad spectrum of labor organizations were on hand for this action, making an impressive show of solidarity with the city workers.
The Bush administration has declared that the Roadless Area Conservation Rule was made with inadequate public input, even though 600 public hearings were held throughout the nation, and the number of comments received was five times greater than on any Federal rule in US history. Ninety-Five percent of the 1.6 million official comments that led to the Roadless Area Conservation Rule favored the strongest possible protections for the remaining roadless areas in America's National Forests.
In July the Bush administration put out a new public comment period requesting answers to ten loaded questions that portend reversal of the rule and the loss of hard-won protections for America's wild forests. Oregon Natural Resource Center has made it easy to submit comments in support of roadless forest protection at the ONRC Roadless Website.
Linn and Benton County members of the Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment (ASJE), together with the Corvallis Action on Globalization (CAG), labor organizations, social services organizations and environmental groups hosted a town hall meeting on August 23rd. The purpose of this event wasto discuss the issue of Fast Track authority for President Bush and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) treaty. Events were held at the Corvallis-Benton County Library. Nearly 200 speakers participated, including the mayor of Corvallis.
Animal rights activists carried out a protest action at downtown Bank of America, 121 Morrison, on Monday, 20 August, from 11:00-1:30. This action was taken as part of a national day of protest against Bank of America's involvement with Stephens Inc., the Little Rock investment firm who bailed out Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLs) with a $33 million loan in what otherwise would have been the last hour of their existence. Monday, August 20th marked the beginning of the campaign to get the Bank of America to recall their loan and refuse future loans, which would mean the end of HLS and their animal experimentation. This action brought out about 25 activists. A video was played showing animal cruelty while people carried signs and banners, handed out hundreds of flyers, and had lively discussions with passersby and Bank of America customers. A follow-up action has already been announced.
"Fee demo" was started in 1996 as a "demonstration program" to encourage "private-public ventures" to "commercialize, privatize and motorize" recreational opportunities on our nation's public lands, at the urging of private recreation industry, particularly the American Recreation Coalition (ARC). This situation is part of a general trend of privatizing public services that has been occuring during the last few presidential administrations, and the present Bush administration is in full support of it.
After five years, fee demo has proven to be a failure, at least for the purposes that Congress and the American public were told it would serve. Yet the legislation may be extended another four years this September.
Economics of Fee Demo
Ironically, although this "demonstration fee" is supposed to show how many Americans support the user fees, there is no tally of how many people refuse to pay the fees or who have stopped visiting pay-to-play forests. Essentially, each forest pass purchased is a vote for fee-demo and the money collected is used as evidence that the program has been successful in raising revenues and should therefore be made permanent.
Quartz Timber Sale on the Auction Block
Species known or suspected to be present, and that may be irreversibly impacted by this sale, intended to clearcut 130 acres and remove 17 million board feet, include populations of coho salmon, steelhead, cutthroat trout, and Northern Spotted Owl. The Astoria District has 520 miles of silt-depositing roads presently degrading salmon habitat and fragmenting wildlife corridors. The sale area is on 947 acres.
The clearcut logging of 52 acres for the 9 miles of road will begin before the Northern Spotted Owl Surveys are complete. ODF's own studies admit that the number of owl pairs in the north Coast Range west of Portland fell by 60 percent from 1994 to 1999, possibly the sharpest decline documented in a single population.
Read the update on the ODF auction of this sale involving over 1000 acres of public land in the Tillamook State Forest, and how the public can still comment on the 10-year forest plan that would allow more of the same by clicking on the "Quartz Auction Update" below.
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