Mayor Sam Adams came out and spoke to the media about the respect he wished to show Portlanders and how surprise raids were dangerous and counter-productive. Despite this, only hours later the remaining exhausted people at Occupy Portland were confronted by a disproportionately large group of riot police again attempting to carry out the eviction.
Several officers engaged in deplorable behavior completely unfitting of a public safety officer, including beating peaceful protesters with batons. Several of us were left with injuries and were treated in reprehensible ways, with our First Amendment rights being violated. Justin Bridges, a beloved member of our community and Occupy Portland’s only ASL interpreter, fell due to an pre-existing injury. Yet once he had fallen he was dragged through the mud, choked by his collar until he lost consciousness, and injured by the police until he had lost use of both legs and his right arm. He was hospitalized for these injuries and is now in a wheelchair, living with what he describes as “excruciating pain”.
Police Chief Mike Reese came out after the parks were cleared to congratulate his officers (and the protesters) for being so peaceful. The Portland Police Bureau claimed that no officers or protesters were injured, as reported in the Oregonian (the official newspaper of the Police Bureau). That is a lie.
Mike Reese, two weeks ago, announced that he was considering a run for mayor. Simultaneously, the City and the Police Bureau began publicly talking more and more about safety problems, and deliberately doing less and less to solve them. These things are not a coincidence.
Everyone in this city knows who Mike Reese is now. He was able to stand up in front of the cameras and in front of the city and declare that special kind of victory where everyone wins. That story is a fantasy, elaborately created. The truth is that his officers tried very hard to provoke us into violence, doing things as petty as sticking feet out and tripping protesters, and when we did not turn violent, some retaliated in brutal force anyways.
What happened in our city at dawn on Sunday was an incredible moral victory for our movement and a clear sign of how we as people hold the key to our peaceful future. What then happened just a few hours later made November 13th into a dark day in this city’s history, as the First Amendment rights of the peacefully assembled were violated and soiled as part of a political campaign advertisement. They were suspended for the business interests that Mr. Reese is so close with, that must be pleased if he truly wants to be elected.
Portland: this is exactly the flavor of corruption in our electoral process that we are protesting against. Yesterday our City government engaged in hostile behavior, not because the people of this city demanded it, (indeed, the enormous turn out that night speaks quite the opposite), but because the business interests of the city continue to successfully manipulate our municipality, and our representatives, in ways kept secret from the general public.
Portland is better than this. Portland is one of the most incredible places in this country, and it is not because of its amusement park, or its weather, or its well known tourist attractions. What makes this place so amazing is its people. We stop at cross-walks for pedestrians, we say hello to each other in the checkout lines, we enjoy our environment and our parks, and we sometimes are just a little bit strange.
We are better than what happened on November 13th. We are better than corrupt politicians and closed-door lobbying. We are better than asking our Police Officers to take time from protecting the public and instead asking them to infringe upon the Constitutional rights of others. We are better than expelling the public from a public place because businesses are worried about holiday shopping becoming uncomfortable. We are better than our Police Chief utilizing brutality as a campaign advertisement for his eventual run for mayor.
We all know that Portland is better than this, so let us please show the country, show the world, what kind of people we truly are. For the first time in a long time, the world watched our corner of this planet, and what they saw was a city that does not respect the free speech of its people.
We can do better, and we call on each and every human being to help us do better. Sunday, November 20th, at 3PM, come down to where this all started on October 6th: Ankeny Plaza underneath the west side of the Burnside Bridge. We will once again come out of our homes, out of our chairs, and into the streets, this time with purpose; we have now seen the corruption and the tyranny up close, in our own streets. We will instead fill our streets with the peace and love that we find so absent in those who hold positions of authority.
Join us, as you join each other. When we as Occupiers march, we often chant that “we are the 99%”. It’s true, we are the 99%, but we are not all of the 99%. You are important, and you are necessary. Your government, your city has just issued a challenge; a challenge to your rights as a citizen and as a human being, who has a birth-given right to dignity. This Sunday, come down and show them what free speech looks like, and since some of them evidently need the lesson, be sure to show them what non-violence looks like.
We all love talking about how great this city is. Portland, it is time for you to show just how great you are.