Karen Wainberg and I went to Portland today to join the Occupy Wall Street event. It's been going on for a week. When we arrived there were just a few folks in Monument Square but more were gathered at their camp site about one block away. We stood on the side of the road facing traffic and held our signs and handed out flyers to passing motorists.
After a few hours more began to arrive. It was a hot day for October, 89 degrees, but seeing the buses go by with rubber necking tourists inside made it bearable. Very few people were negative as they passed us by during the 4 1/2 hours we were there. By the time we left about 75 people were protesting in the square. We heard that last night about 200-300 people had come to be a part of the Occupy Wall Street action.
Many young people either came to the square to hold a sign or to see what is going on. I handed many of them a flyer. It was good that today we had several of us there from the peace movement holding signs that connected the dots between endless war and economic crisis here at home. Many of the younger activists have been working on environmental or corporate power issues, and while they are against the war, they've not had many chances to make these important connections. So it is vital that peace movement people go into these spaces and help make these links. Everyone is totally receptive.
When I got home I saw an email from friend David Swanson, one of the leaders of the Occupy DC effort that began this week in Washington. He posted several videos like the one below on his web site and wrote this:
We intended to hold signs and sing inside the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, protesting its promotion of unmanned drones, missiles, and bombs, including its sponsorship by and promotion of weapons corporations. We don't have any museums promoting health coverage or education or retirement security.
We had marched from the Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square occupations, taking over the streets of DC. The museum knew we were coming. Some of our group got in and dropped a banner. Hundreds of us did not. Instead, we were greeted at the door with cans of pepper spray.
There were three sets of entrance doors. I was among the first to open the third set of doors. A guard shook a can of pepper spray in front of me and demanded that we back out. But a dozen feet away at the second set of doors, people were staggering out and collapsing in pain, having been pepper sprayed in the face. I started to go toward them, but began coughing and vomiting. A lot of people were effected, directly or -- like me -- indirectly by the pepper spray.