Portland marches against police violence once again (O22 PDX)

On October 22, over 300 community members turned out to march against ongoing police violence. Ranging in age from toddlers to seniors, protesters marched through North and Northeast Portland raising a call for police accountability and independent oversight of the police. All along the route from Alberta Park to Peninsula Community Center, residents cheered and marveled at the spectacle of a march being led by a costumed mounted patrol on stilts while being tailed by the PPB's real Mounted Patrol.

At one point, the march stopped at the Northeast Precinct, where State Rep. Jo Ann Bowman spoke out against police violence and unfair sentencing practices, and the Union Chorus performed. By that time, it had become clear that excessive police surveillance­including detailed video recording of the event and bystanders­was discouraging residents from joining the event. A spontaneous speaker gave a rousing speech inspiring a half-dozen protesters to bare their backsides and give the police some interesting footage.

The march proceeded south on MLK to Skidmore, where the lead-pellet "beanbag" shooting incident occurred during a protest on August 17, 1998 (see PPR #'s 16-17). Kendra Smith Rosser, whose child was grabbed from her arms by police officers at Skidmore Street on that day in 1998, sang about that incident, racial profiling, and police violence.

Police presence at the event was heavier than expected, considering that the organizers of the event had obtained permits. The marchers met stringent-- and somewhat outrageous--requests by the police, including providing one "safety" person per ten protestors. At meetings coordina-ted by the Police Accountability Campaign (PAC-2000), organizers decided to apply for the permits in order to focus on getting the message out and to create an atmosphere where families could participate in the event.

The march was endorsed by Portland Copwatch, Peace and Justice Works, the Portland Alliance, Sisters in Action for Power, KIDS, the Portland General Membership Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World, and others. Art and Revolution helped make this a colorful and somewhat theatrical event with the stilt-cops and other puppets, creative signs, and banners.

By 3 PM, the march reached the Peninsula Community Center, where food was provided by a number of local eateries, the band Estosterone performed, and people enjoyed the sunny afternoon. Despite the positive spirit and non-violent course of the day, police surveillance did not cease until the last people had left. Organizers of the event plan to bring this exhibition of excessive scrutiny of non-criminal activity to public attention.

For more information on the Police Accountability Campaign, call 503-287-2255.

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