Police Violence Mars Occupy Portland Rally for Tahrir Anniversary

photo by Paul

by Adam Rothstein

Occupy Portland activists gathered for a rally and march in Pioneer Square today, but met with violence by the police department when they attempted to take the street. Fired up by the police action, the protesters, already in a mood colored by the shooting of man today in downtown Portland by police, spent the rest of the night marching through the streets, ending up in a vigil on the steps of the Justice Center.

The night started peacefully, as activists met at Pioneer Square, and made speeches and shared food. They met to remember the one-year anniversary of the Egyptian uprising in Tahrir Square, in the center of Cairo. Today, in Egypt, protesters gathered once again in Tahrir to protest the continued repression by the interim government, controlled by the army.

After the rally, protesters began an unpermitted march. Protesters started to march in the street, but police pushed them back onto the sidewalk, raising tensions. The march arrived at the PSU park blocks in the Southwest part of downtown, and a moment of silence was held for Tahrir. The mood calmed down, and the protesters returned to being reflective.

The march started up again, and though it was mostly on the sidewalk at this point, the police began selectively enforcing jaywalking ordinances, writing citations for particular individuals. When marchers objected vocally to the citations, saying it was unspecific and unclear what ordinances were being enforced, arrests began. Many police officers arrived, some wearing protective riot gear, and pushed the march up onto the sidewalk. Witnesses say that police grabbed peoples’ bicycles on the sidewalk, and began pulling at them. A boy was punched repeatedly by a police officer on the sidewalk, for reasons that were unclear. Livestream equipment was broken by police blows. Several protesters were detained, and some were arrested, others released. Witnesses report that the police were targeting individuals, on an unknown basis. “That one, there,” said an officer, pointing at a male protester who was then tackled and arrested. Several protesters were hit with fists and sticks while on the ground.

The marchers responded by heading to City Hall for a dance party. After a little while there, near the permanent vigil to end the camping ban, the march moved to the block of Main Street between Chapman and Lownsdale Parks, the parks that the Occupation had been evicted from two months earlier. Some protesters gathered on the elk sculpture in the middle of the street.

At this point, police on horseback arrived. Rather than attempting to move the protesters on the statue, they moved against the protesters on the northernly sidewalk, pushing them back against the large security fences that still surround the park. Two women, including a Livestreamer, were arrested. They were thrown onto the ground, and then tossed into a van. One woman was forcibly slammed in the door of the van by officers, on purpose. The famous disco-trike, the music broadcasting unit of the Bike Swarm, was impounded and its rider arrested.

The march returned to Pioneer Square. After a short period of indecision, the protesters decided to go on the march again. Followed by police, the march went North on SW Third Avenue, now entirely on the sidewalk. Diners in restaurants looked out the windows curiously as the protesters went by, shouting “Whose Streets? Our Streets!” They looked oddly at the tent monster, which was helped by his fellows over the uneven squares of the sidewalk. A teenager, who remained unidentified, appeared out of a side street and threw three lit road flares at the march. Peace and Safety volunteers from the march caught him, and released him after he promised not to do it again.

photo by Paul

At this point a news van from KGW showed up, and a camera person began filming. A few agitated members of the crowd approached the crew, yelling at them, asking them where they were when people were being arrested. They chanted, “Show the Truth! Show the Truth!” The camera person backed up, eventually climbing onto of his van, evidently threatened by the crowd. Other protesters mic-checked the crowd, and asked them to calm down. The many members of the march that had grown as it wound through the streets and others arrived, began to twindle, as people were turned off by this spectacle. Eventually the march moved on.

Heading up Burnside to Broadway, the march swung South again. The police had trailed away, and the protesters took two out of three lanes of the street. Traffic drove around, though slowly. Upon reaching Pioneer Square, the march sat in the street for two traffic light rotations. Though there was a lane clear, at least one driver sped angrily around the protesters and through a red light, narrowly avoiding hitting a protester seated in the adjacent lane.

Then the march continued again, heading to City Hall. The front door had been mistakenly left open, and for a moment protesters entered the lobby. Most of them left when the security guard confronted them, except for one man who took off, and began running the stairwells of the building. The forty or so protesters that still remained went across the park to the Justice Center, to wait in vigil for the people who were arrested. A number of officers came to City Hall, and went in to arrest the man still inside, who was charged with trespassing.

And with the vigil, the night ended. What might have been a peaceful march and rally became a long, twisting night, marked with police violence. Emotions ran high, due to the police violence, on top of the news of the earlier, unrelated shooting. The activists from Occupy Portland do not easily suffer abuse at the hands of the police, and respond by claiming the street as their own. But it was a shame that such violence instigated by the police had to color a night that ought to have been filled with thoughts of compatriots in in Egypt, who even now suffer worse violence and murder at the hands of that nation’s army and police force. For Occupy, the mission is international, and while anniversaries happen but once a year, the struggle is constant.

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  18 comments for “Police Violence Mars Occupy Portland Rally for Tahrir Anniversary

  1. Justin Myers
    January 26, 2012 at 1:28 AM

    How’s all that working out for ya?

  2. Christina
    January 26, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    I felt outraged and sad when I heard the police have shot another citizen, though admittely this is the first time I heard about the shooting. Thank you, Portland Occupier, for keeping us up to date with the latest. There are more people than you know who are in support of all the work you are doing. What do you need from people who want to become more involved? Food/snacks, more writing, marchers, letanything government officials? Or, is there simply a need for more people to take a lead in filling holes where they see need?

    • January 28, 2012 at 12:33 AM

      The best way to get involved is to either stop by Headquarters in St. Francis on SE 12th and Oak. Or you can go to http://pdxga.org and look through the group listings and contact the admins directly about how to best plug into the group.

      The other way to help out is to donate a bit to this paper, rent or to livestream

  3. January 26, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    According to my dictionary (Wordnet 2.0), terrorism is defined as “the calculated use of violence (or threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear.” The City of Portland, through its Bureau of Police, is clearly guilty of terrorism.

    • joe mahoney
      January 27, 2012 at 7:22 PM

      Way to go Sarah. Riot cops and other out of control police, are terrorists. Instead of being trained by the Department of Homeland Security, they should be arrested by them!

  4. Anonymous
    January 26, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    “Peace and Safety volunteers from the march caught him, and released him after he promised not to do it again.”

    And what would they have done if he didn’t promise?

    • rothstei
      January 26, 2012 at 11:50 AM

      You’ll have to ask them. However, I imagine they would have done what anyone would have done if an idiot was throwing road flares at them. Interpret as you will.

      • Anonymous
        January 26, 2012 at 5:10 PM

        I’m going to interpret it as they would have been handed over to the police. Great way to show solidarity with Egypt. To their benefit, they have a different way of dealing with police collaborators over there – http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2011/12/21/world/middleeast/21egypt_cnd.html. I believe that’s blood he’s trying to stop from coming out of his nose.

        • rothstei
          January 26, 2012 at 6:00 PM

          Now you’re just trolling. Stop being an ass. If you can tell me the name of the person who found the kid, and tell me that s/he likes to hand people over to the cops, then good work. Otherwise, you weren’t there, so you’re just another a****** with an internet connection.

          • jim thomsen
            January 26, 2012 at 10:01 PM

            *Comments that are composed primarily of ad hominem attacks will not be published. =
            appealing to one’s prejudices, emotions, or special interests rather than to one’s intellect or reason.
            attacking an opponent’s character rather than answering his argument.

            “Stop being an ass.”
            “so you’re just another asshole with an internet connection.”

            SEE point #2 Above.

            *Comments that are composed primarily of ad hominem attacks will not be published.

            I am a total rookie! Or, these are the furthest thing from acceptable responses by an author of an article on a Public “News-Site”, (let alone, a representative of a new, peaceful, educational, exciting, hopeful, honest, caring, THANKFULLY (for me) online community) to a reader, I have ever read, on this site, or in Media that MATTERS of any kind since this movement began. Is this YOUR idea of freedom of speech? Why don’t you just censor the post in the first place, is it because you want to get your jabs in? Who moderates YOUR responses? Who Punk, just you? Maybe I am just a rookie and I should just deal with folks like this from now on.

            *Comments that are composed primarily of ad hominem attacks will not be published.

            I loved this site, and YOU alone are dragging it, and ‘Anonymous’ above, through the mud. You already ‘did’ me, but, when you call someone names, then you and I have got a serious problem.

            *Comments that are composed primarily of ad hominem attacks will not be published.

            I actually would have loved to have met you and spoken with you in the space between my second response below, and reading this one, but, now I couldn’t care less because I don’t have to be psychic to know you too are just an asshole with a computer. I know I am, so go ahead yo. Its Just, I wouldn’t be caught DEAD writing like you to anyone, ‘but’, you. Then again, I am just a rookie.

            *Comments that are composed primarily of ad hominem attacks will not be published.

            I did not want to swear, not really. Thanks to YOU, now I know I should, Fuck-chop. Now, publish this, because if you are going to refer to someone, who goes the distance to make the point to; sign in, write you, find an image to better make their point… an ass and an asshole (myriad description) you should at least allow others, No? As I, you don’t have to answer everything now do you?

            *Comments that are composed primarily of ad hominem attacks will not be published

            PS. I just gave a homeless man on my porch my last Ensure. What have you done but, fail as a decent Author of, by, and for the People Twice – Three times in one thread? Dig the new site, but, you suck. And, the worst part, I am going to want to know what happened at the Community Public Forum on Police Accountability because I can’t go because I am a stupid, addict, cripple. I did that for you, so you don’t have to. If you are the author and I write in, (I wont) I risk everything from Mockery to Hypocrisy. So bag it. I’ll go elsewhere now, if there is one, shit. No, I won’t. Maybe I will just get what pals I do have, and guide them to your pages, so you can get a little publicity… Would you like that? Would that help ‘your’ cause, whatever that is? Now, I feel dirty. And, I deserve it, gross.

            *Comments that are composed primarily of ad hominem attacks will not be published.

          • rothstei
            January 27, 2012 at 11:19 AM

            Calling Anonymous an “ass” was not name-calling, but a description of his/her behavior, which actually carries over from another thread. Calling him/her an asshole, on the other hand, was out of line, and I’ve censored it. The commenter was in fact being an ass. S/he was stubbornly making comments accusing protesters of collaborating with the police, in order to make a point.

            I’m not sure what standard of journalism you are hoping to hold me to, Jim. One minute, you acknowledge that I might have my own biases. The next, you accuse me of failing to be a “decent Author of, by, and for the People”. One minute you say I should come into the streets to see what the protesters are actually protesting, the next you tell me to leave the streets if I don’t know what they are protesting. You say that you thought most of my article was positive (and that you attempted to tell me this) while at the same time comparing me to Fox News. Did you really just say that I failed the people because I didn’t give a homeless person an Ensure? I don’t know how to respond to that. Do you want to know every thing that I have ever done for another human being in my life? Well, I won’t. I’m done here.

            I can’t make my writing satisfy everything that every single person wants it to be. If you don’t find it useful, I’m really not sure how to fix that… or given your bizarre criticism of me, why I would want to. I’m glad that you have liked this site in the past. There are many other writers beside me, and I hope that you can continue to enjoy their writing, if not mine.

  5. jim thomsen
    January 26, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    Please know that before you read this, I think you did a mostly decent job describing what happened, yet, phrases like ” as people were turned off by this ‘spectacle’ ” I expect to be found on FOX’s ‘fair & balanced’ reporting. And yes, just a simple little quip like that gets you a response like this. Not to mention one of the largest ‘fails’ in reporting of the day. Do I need to explain?
    Okay; It was an emotional response being controlled by others in the group. Sounds like the entire #Occupy movement as a whole to me.
    I know you can’t remain unbiased in the field, but, there are people already throwing sound-bite opinions like this in the face of our struggle with troubles in the ‘Media’. We don’t need you, turning our actions, whatever they may be, into a ‘spectacle’. Is that what we are to you? No? Just when you think it is, right? — “the protesters, already in a mood colored by the shooting of man today in downtown Portland by police, spent the rest of the night marching through the streets” – That’s not a preparation for a ‘spectacle’ is it? It couldn’t turn into one either, could it? Well, by your report, it eventually did, even if in reality, it was under control when; ” Other protesters mic-checked the crowd, and asked them to calm down.” Shame on you for calling us a ‘spectacle’! Then, ” What might have been a peaceful march and rally became a long, twisting night, marked with police violence. ” Yes, and that was the ‘spectacle’.
    The protesters returned to being ‘Reflective’? Sounds again like that is right where you want them. Is a ‘Reflective’ Protest okay, I mean mandatory with you? It wasn’t even a ‘protest’ now was it, it was a celebration. With this kind of reporting, celebration unmentioned becomes Protest & ‘spectacle’…
    -Headline-Celebration in Portland Oregon interrupted by a ‘spectacle’ of sporadic Police Violence.
    By the way, Your article about the Police violence against the People’s ‘spectacle’, who just so happened to be out “Remembering” the anniversary of what? What was it again? Do you remember? Right, you, like almost every, single, other ‘reporter’ in the field has failed to report that it is; ” The one year anniversary of the rise of the ‘April 6th Youth Movement’ “. If you are reading this and fail to realize, understand or even know, what the ‘April 6th Youth Movement’ is, or why it is being celebrated, or “Remembered” on Jan. 25, your independent media has failed you. And if you were in the streets last night and you too do not know what or WHO the ‘April 6th Youth Movement ‘ is, you too, did not belong there, not really, unless it was just an excuse to be in the street with the Cops, which I encourage anyway, They are our streets, we don’t need an escort & Horses don’t belong in the City. But, seriously, learn why you were even in the street if still, you do not know. And leave the ‘spectacles’ to the Police.

    • rothstei
      January 26, 2012 at 3:48 PM

      I know much more about the movement in Egypt than your assumption, but I don’t think that’s really the point here, so I won’t prove it to you. However, I will mention that the organizers of the event last night titled it, “Anniversary of Tahrir Square”, when they promoted it, and made no mention of April 6th, so that is also the headline I went with.

      First, I won’t claim to be unbiased, because the act of reporting is a bias in itself. There will always be someone to decide who and want to talk about at any given time. I report what I find to be important and relevant, in a manner that portrays what I believe to be important. Claims of objectivity are in fact their own bias–because they allow the moral superiority for someone to turn their head away and pretend that they have more than their own interest to support them in that action.

      Second, given the former, it sounds like your complaint is that this reporting isn’t biased enough. Specifically, it is not your own personal point of view. Well, sorry. I’m not going to apologize that my view of the situation is not the same as your own. Did you know we take submissions? If your point of view is so upright and correct, why don’t you write about it? Or get your own blog? WordPress software is free, open-source, and available to anyone. That’s what I, and the people who work with me on The Occupier did.

      Third, I don’t really understand your problem with the word “spectacle”. That is not a bad thing. A protest is a spectacle, and that is why you do it. So people can see you do it. Otherwise, you could just sit at home and write a book on the subject. You seem to agree that there is a spectacle of some sort, but only want it to be blamed on the police. Okay, if it was purely pejorative, I would understand why. But the police didn’t stage the protest, they were only responsible for the violence. Hence my point: spectacle is not a bad thing, it is merely the fact of being seen. Anyone who was there was responsible for why there was anything to be seen.

      However, the particular spectacle of the few individuals yelling at the KGW camera person was different. While the police violence strengthened the resolve and the will of the protesters, the sexist language used to attack a random employee of a media organization made a good number of people take off. Each spectacle has a different effect. The spectacle of the protest was to celebrate Egypt. The spectacle of the police violence brought out more protest supporters. The spectacle of yelling at the camera person made them leave. That’s it.

      I couldn’t care what any particular protester chooses to do. There are protesters whose actions I like, because they make the spectacle of the protest more effective. And there are protesters whose actions I don’t like, because their own private ego spectacle makes people uncomfortable without a positive contrary effect. But there will always be both of those at any protest, so I don’t particularly worry about it. I just call it like I see it. That’s how I’m going to report. If you don’t like it, feel free to shout at me in the comments more. Or, see point #2 above.

  6. jim thomsen
    January 26, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    Your response, as your article is well written, yet…
    Wait, did you even read my response? I gave you a heads up for your writing, first thing & I addressed 2 valid issues (I thought). One was about my ‘opinion’ on your use of a single word. The word Spectacle is just as you say it is, it’s not a ‘Bad’ word, but, that’s how you used it in your article and still you insist it’s not a negative word. I know that, and yet you used it in a negative way. You had to. You were describing Sexual Assault. Did you report this to Anyone in authority? The reason I don’t know, is because you did not TELL us that part. Had I known, You would not have had but one simple complaint, about not mentioning the April 6th youth movement, but, that’s not important, is it?
    — “However, the particular spectacle of the few individuals yelling at the KGW camera person was different. While the police violence strengthened the resolve and the will of the protesters, the sexist language used to attack a random employee of a media organization made a good number of people take off. Each spectacle has a different effect. The spectacle of the protest was to celebrate Egypt. ‘The spectacle of the police violence’ brought out more protest supporters. The spectacle of yelling at the camera person made them leave. That’s it.”
    —- That IS it, this Is exactly what I wanted to see. This is exactly what I should have seen in your article.
    Do you remember this; “I know you can’t remain unbiased in the field” ? I wrote that, to you. Because I recognize your situation is hard and all you can do is try and do your best. And still a tirade.
    If you know so much about Egypt and the origins of the April 6th Youth Movement, I would love to have seen even a mention in the article. Your failure to correct what you admit the occupier failed to address in the first place was strange now that I know you knew. Was your job to ‘continue’ the lack of information just because that’s how it was presented by someone else as you said, or should you correct it or add to it, especially if you have the knowledge to do so? I am not a writer so I don’t know… yo. But, as a reader, I would expect it, personally.
    I do have my own wordpress site. I Just got it on the 19th of this month, know why? Because I am 40 years old with only a GED I got in OLY. 22 years ago after not being in school for 4 years, and I am only just now coming off Pain Medication that’s kept me in an 8 year haze. I’m an idiot. I’m an addict (quitting). I quit writhing with poetry when I was 14 for ‘Personal’ reasons, actually I quit writing anything more than my name and what is required of me until the #Occupy movement came along (thanks to Buazizi). That’s right, No school, no travel, just alcohol and anything else I could find to numb the pain of Everyday reality the reality I, and you, and the other 99% who give a percentage are trying now, to change. ALL the time doing what the Republican Party used to consider Chattel Slavery (work, for money) for s-t pay until I became disabled, in my spine, Forever, as I bent over to pick something up…At my Slavery post (job).
    So, All I do is sit at home now trying not to waste your money by trying to better myself in so many ways in the last few months, that I can’t even count.
    Why do you think I write so much? It aint ‘cuz I’m smart that’s obvious, it’s because I have the time. But, I am trying so damn hard I will do what you say and ‘Report it like I see it’ like I did, in my initial response. And, if you think I was shouting at you, you haven’t been writing long either.
    I saw your point #2 by the way. The one where you Apologize, then say you won’t, where you mock my opinions as ‘So upright and correct’, where you address bias for some unknown reason when I actually gave that one to you, where you refer me to your submissions page, instead of actually just addressing the two simple points I did make, and finally, where you lump everyone you work with into your response, knowing full well they have not read this thread giving them the ability to agree or disagree with you. What about it? Will you let them read it, or tell them ‘some jerk wrote in, you have to see it’?
    That response took me two hours to write. How long did you think about yours? This is lame. You called an unknown and poorly described event (a sexual assault), a ‘spectacle’. How were we to know? And, you fail those who’s day you (Protest?) Celebrate, by not even giving them the credit I would think that they deserve in name at least.
    Two things; One stinks the other stinks worse. That is ‘only’ my opinion, not an article. Why it is, that I should be defending MY writing, is beyond me, but, I learned a lot and I appreciate your response despite its thoughtlessness, the article was decent though, as I said yo. j

    PS. it is Dwindle, not Twindle, unless, you are just calling it as you see it. You are a writer, use a spellchecker.

    • rothstei
      January 27, 2012 at 10:55 AM

      What sexual assault are you talking about?

      I’m sorry you thought my response was attacking you. However, remember that I have feelings too. I don’t write for The Occupier because it is my job, like those KGW reporters. I do it because it is important to me, and I like to think it helps other people too. I’m going to keep on doing it, but I admit that when someone writes a long comment castigating me, and calling out “shame!” in the same way that protesters call out the police, it affects me emotionally. Because I got a bit emotional, my response was unprofessional, and I apologize for that. Not that I haven’t taken worse, and won’t take twice as bad again in the future, but I think my coverage of this event is not necessarily deserving of your ire.

      That is why I asked why you don’t write your own piece, directing your tirade and emotion towards someone other than me. Comparing me to Fox News? Really? Using language like “Is that what we are to you? No? Just when you think it is, right?” as if I was not one of the people joining you in the streets, telling me to “learn why I was in the streets”, or telling me to leave? I really don’t think that is necessary. I have yet to see a positive suggestion from your original attack, and instead only see you spending your energy yelling at me. You’re welcome to do so, of course. Just be advised that it might make me a little touchy in my response to your supposed criticism.

      • jim thomsen
        January 27, 2012 at 12:58 PM

        “What sexual assault are you talking about?”

        “the SEXIST LANGUAGE USED TO ATTACK a random employee of a media organization ”

        this one.

        Unless that’s okay with you. Or, its again just a poorly described situation.

        And we still do not Really know what ‘Spectacle’ happened at that truck now do we?
        That’s it, I am done too. I can’t get through to you. No matter what I say. I’ll just go back to my Blog that no one and I mean NO ONE will ever see.

  7. January 27, 2012 at 7:53 AM

    Please sign, support and propagate this Petition To Stop Police Interference:


    For whatever value it may have – an essay on future strategies for Occupy and stewardship of Occupy zones:


    Thanks folks & with love from a Sacramento occupier.

  8. January 27, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    This link has some breaking news bulletins from J25 night that are archived on Portlandindymedia from watching the Livestream feed.

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