A Letter to Mayor Sam Adams and his Portland Police

photo by Big Jon

by The Organizers

To Mayor Sam Adams, Portland Police:

People of the City of Portland, representing all walks of life, will gather in Pioneer Square at 7:00pm on June 11, 2012 to express solidarité with people in Québec and around the world who are asserting their rights to education without lifelong debt-slavery. This event will also mark the beginning of a local effort to organize ourselves against the profiteering of education by the people and institutions that make up the economy’s financial sector. There will be music. There will be dancing. We have invited the public, including yourselves, to join us. This is about highlighting the importance of education, and asserting our right to it. We write to strongly express our desire for this to be a safe event for all.

With that said, we feel it is important to state that we will not pull a city permit for the use of Pioneer Square on June 11 because, in short, public space in the United States was made into a commodity during the last century. We reject the legitimacy of this process and the restriction of expression that has resulted from it. Additionally, the safety that city permits claim to provide explicitly requires our submission to the authority that you frequently abuse. The safety you offer has costs, both in terms of dollars and in the otherwise free movement of our bodies. As recent history demonstrates, to refuse this offer of safety is to accept fully any violence that you may choose to use on us. Again, we reject this. A continuation of your history of violence would not surprise us; still we write to demand better of you, our public servants. Regarding the offer of safety that your permits represent, we write to say “No deal.”

This event will be safe because we, the organizers, will ensure the safety of the people who choose to attend it against any and all people who choose to disrupt it. We thank you for your cooperation in advance.

The Organizers

  7 comments for “A Letter to Mayor Sam Adams and his Portland Police

  1. June 10, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    This will be a family-friendly event. I encourage off-duty police to attend and bring their spouses and kids. Kids who some day will want to go to college without crushing lifelong debt.

    • Chris
      June 10, 2012 at 8:13 PM

      Yes, this will be a family-friendly event! – unless the police try to enforce some kind of crowd control, which the author has practically dared them to do, at which time the event will turn into a cop fight. Bring your kids! Come for the activism, stay for the surprise violence and false arrests!

      • Hard Luck
        June 11, 2012 at 12:23 PM

        Jesus, this logic makes me so tired. Look, if there’s an argument that says we “invite” violence that is perpetrated on us, let me know how it isn’t akin to abuse mentality. How about acknowledging that our government does have the power to hurt us whenever they’d like and concluding that this isn’t okay. And not criticizing our friends and neighbors when they acknowledge this and are courageous in defying it?

        • Chris
          June 11, 2012 at 2:33 PM

          Occupy Portland is nowhere near having the level of participation it would need to defy city authority without inviting the familiar police response – nor does it have enough public support that such a response would anger a politically significant portion of the public. And as long as that holds true, it’s logically impossible to hold an event that is simultaneously defiant and family-friendly. YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS.

          I shouldn’t even have to explain this to anybody. There have been enough debates around peace/nonviolence vs. militancy, and the consequences of having both present in the same place, that no matter what anyone’s position is in that debate they should be familiar with the terms. And in every instance of that debate I’ve seen, it’s generally been agreed that no matter what your preferred tactics are, if you muck up someone’s intentionally peaceful demonstration with uninvited militancy, you are an asshole and you’re endangering everyone present, probably without their consent. So I really don’t see why I’m getting so much flak here and elsewhere for my objection to creating a supposedly “family-friendly” event only to challenge the police like this at the last minute, unless it’s because tribalism has completely replaced logic and common sense so that Occupiers treat any stranger who disagrees with them as either an unenlightened naif or an ideological enemy.

          Shit. You want to talk about tired? I’m tired of getting evasions, excuses, boneheaded rationalizations, and hackneyed leftist soundbites from Occupiers instead of clear answers or good-faith discussion every time I question their strategy or message. I’m tired of the smug, superior, teenage know-it-all attitude Occupiers use to insulate themselves from doubt and criticism. I’m tired of head-in-the-clouds utopian idealists who know nothing about government, economics, or behavioral psychology, and think we can just get rid of all the money, melt down all the guns, and tell the racists to stop and everything will be okay. I’m tired of being embarrassed by anti-nuke and pro-snakeoil progressives who seemingly get their science from paranoid schizophrenics and dime-novel thriller fiction. I’m tired of watching the peasant revolt I predicted twenty-five years ago crippled by institutional ADD. I’m tired of beating my head against Occupier tribalism. I was so excited by Occupy when it appeared and I’ve become so frustrated by how it’s fallen short of its promise.

          I’m really debating whether to attend this event. I think that, maybe, even if I don’t agree with what the organizers are planning or communicating, as long as I support the cause, I should show up in solidarity. But the more I interact with Occupiers, the less I want anything to do with them. It’s gotten to the point where I have to hold my nose – figuratively speaking – to go anywhere Occupy is, and if it wasn’t the only populist revolutionary game in town, I wouldn’t even bother.

  2. James
    June 10, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    What about other people who want to use pioneer square?

    • rothstei
      June 10, 2012 at 5:41 PM

      There’s a Christmas tree occupying the square for like a whole month every year. I don’t celebrate Christmas and never have, and no one asked me if I wanted a giant tree cut down and propped up there. And yet it is there. It’s public space. It is there to be used. I’ll be there tomorrow evening, using the public space to express solidarity with the Quebec student strike tomorrow.

  3. john gardner
    June 11, 2012 at 7:27 AM

    “Give me control over a nations currency and I care not who makes the laws”, said M. A. Rothschild. Has Occupy become just another circus, like the tea party, in the divide and conquer strategy of the world leaders. All issues taken up by occupy, from homelessness to war, are a result of the above quoted mentality. If you look through the forty-one pages of the Portland Occupiers archives there isn’t one article that directly addresses the insanity of the Federal Reserve Bank and its international counterparts. All the other issues taken up by Occupy and any other movements attack only the symptom and not the cause—a smokescreen behind which the Federal Reserve carries out their business as usual. I’ve marched with Occupy against war, police brutality, ALEC, etc., but it’s way past time to go after those that create the environment for all the worlds problems.

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