March 20, 2007

Follow Up on Portland's Protest

Yesterday, Raed Jarrar spoke at the Portland stop-the-war protest. According to NPR this morning, Portland had a largely peaceful crowd and very few ant-anti-war protestors. Whole families came to express their views including families whose loved ones were in Iraq or about to deploy to Iraq. Here's the Oregonian's take:

Marching to the solemn cadence of church bells in downtown Portland, thousands of anti-war protesters marked four years of war in Iraq on Sunday with rage, lamentation and demands for President Bush to bring U.S. troops home.

Under a sky of drifting silver clouds, the marchers, many carrying signs with slogans such as "Jail to the Chief," "Bring My Sister Home," and "Jesus Hates War," moved peacefully along the 24-block route.

And here's the AP's take:

The Portland protest was one of several around the country over the weekend and one of the larger ones, with the crowd numbering in the thousands. Organizers said there might have been as many as 15,000 people at the staging point for the march. Police did not give a crowd estimate.

Families, students and older citizens participated in the demonstration, with scores of officers on bicycles and afoot keeping watch.

The protest started with a rally at Portland's South Park Blocks. Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi and human rights activist, told the crowd that only a few Iraqis collaborate with U.S. forces, so the war is now between the occupiers and almost everyone else in the country.

The war "is happening because of the occupation, not in spite of it," said Jarrar, who left Iraq after Saddam Hussein was toppled and now lives in the United States.

"There are Iraqis who can rebuild their country," he said. "They don't need someone to come from thousands of miles away to tell them how to treat their neighbor. They are the only ones who can end this violence."

Steve Weiss of Salem accompanied a group of people with children who are in the military and said his 18-year-old son will leave for Iraq April 11.

"Kids go in for all sorts of reasons," he said. "I think physically he's really well trained, but mentally, I think he has no idea what he is getting into."

The Oregonian says that 15 people were arrested. That's a pretty small group of people when you realize that the number of people who marched was close to 15,000.

It would have been nice to take part in that march. Maybe next year unless we can finally bring this horrible war to an end before then.

Posted by Mary at March 20, 2007 12:23 AM | Oregon News & Politics | Technorati links |

Well thank you Portland!

Posted by: Jim DeRosa at March 20, 2007 09:59 AM

Stay Safe out there! I'm glad to hear it went so well

Posted by: dav at March 20, 2007 12:39 PM

it was indeed a great march.

the organizer's figure that the AP quotes is probably the correct number. my own estimate (based on years of estimating crowd sizes back in my journalist days) was around 15,000 as well.

in contrast was the relative even-handedness of the oregonian and AP, the the local tv coverage (especially that of channel 2) emphaized the activities of around 100 'anarchists,' who wandered around downtown for a couple of hours. during the 'official' march, i was right behind the anarchists, and watched them try really hard (and unsuccessfully) to pick a fight with the cops.

i wish these so-called 'radicals' could learn that direct-action tactics in the street are not in and of themselves political action. they might be fun, but they certainly don't change anyone's mind about the war in iraq -- let alone represent any sort of threat to the regime that's running the war ... the acme of the anarchists' pointless activity was the blocking of one of the light rail lines. now blocking a *troop train* or a train full of armaments could be a powerful and effective political tactic at the right time, but i really can't see how blocking public transit does anything except piss off people who may already agree with you.

Posted by: Magpie at March 21, 2007 10:31 AM

Do you know these "protesters" were burning flags and a mock soldier, along with carrying signs that read "F**k the soldiers." Where's your write up about that?

Posted by: Bill Scanlan at March 27, 2007 09:05 AM

Protestors are getting carried away. How can you hate the greatest country in the world? I had a college professor who lived in 7 different countries in her lifetime and she said by far the United States is the greatest country in the world. Our country is like a family member, we take the good with the bad and support it and love it always. We can make changes in this country without convincing each other to hate it.

Posted by: Jessica Doyle at March 27, 2007 09:16 AM

I think all you protestors are wimps and scared to face the real issues. I think you should go over to Iraq and protest in front of all the troops and see how attention you will get. I support our troops and the freedoms they are protecting

Posted by: MARK at March 27, 2007 12:37 PM