Portland Anti-Austerity Protest Draws 1,000 Despite Police Violence

Search form

Portland Anti-Austerity Protest Draws 1,000 Despite Police Violence

Portland Anti-Austerity Protest Draws 1,000 Despite Police Violence
Tue, 11/6/2012 - by Shamus Cooke
This article originally appeared on Workers Action

Photo: Ross William Hamilton

It’s difficult to build a pre-election protest with so many labor and community groups busy campaigning for Democrats. Nevertheless, more than 1,000 people marched the streets in Portland, Oregon, against austerity cuts to education and other public services and the consequent debt accumulated by students.

The specific date of the pre-election protest was timed to educate the public about the bipartisan plan of national austerity cuts, which are expected to occur post-election and likely include massive cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, public education and Social Security.

The Portland demonstration was endorsed or supported by six labor unions, including Portland’s teachers and the largest public employee union in Oregon. Over a dozen community groups endorsed the event.

But the police came ready to start a fight. There was a fleet of bicycle police and dozens of riot police, including those mounted on horseback. The police created confrontations by blocking streets on the marching route and pepper spraying marchers if they got too close. About 24 people were pepper sprayed, including several high school students and an elderly woman.

It should be noted that Portland’s mayor is the first openly gay Mayor in the country and a “liberal” Democrat.

Despite the police’s repeated attempts to dismember the march, the day was an overall success. The demonstration gained enough coverage to teach the city what austerity is, while speakers and fliers offered alternatives that would make austerity cuts unnecessary, such as taxing the rich and corporations instead of making cuts to education and social programs.

Also, the organizational framework has been created for further coalition building against austerity, with labor and community groups finding common purpose against a bi-partisan policy that is destroying the social safety net while being used as an excuse to attack unions.

This is important because future state budget deficits are expected in Oregon. Instead of raising taxes on the rich, whose tax rates have declined for the past three decades, the Democratic governor will likely try again to implement austerity cuts in response to a budget deficit. In other words, he will try to resolve the deficit at the expense of working people and the poor. Cuts will also likely be attempted again on the city level in Portland, in response to yet another budget deficit.

The economic crisis is not over for working people, who are likely to experience years of austerity budgets on all levels of government, while corporations, too, attempt to implement austerity wage and benefit cuts to their workforce in order to “remain competitive.”

If labor and community groups unite the broader population with common goals and collective, massive action, we can build a powerful social movement capable not only of defending ourselves from austerity, but changing the power dynamic in this country to the benefit of working people.

Article Tabs

A new bill provides two years of tuition at a community college for participating high school grads who might otherwise face a 7.5 percent unemployment rate – and other states are already following suit.

Rent-backed securities are the direct descendants of the mortgage-backed securities that crashed the economy in 2008.

Al Gore, Leo DiCaprio, Sting and hundreds of thousands of others swelled New York City's streets to demand climate justice.

In one of the most controversial “terror” cases in modern U.S. history, supporters rallied on the 16th anniversary of the arrest of the Cuban Five to demand the remaining three incarcerated men be released.

Community leaders, activists and residents affected by this summer's water shutoffs in Detroit are rallying at the Federal Bankruptcy Court on Monday to demand an immediate Water Affordability Plan.

If you're planning to take to the streets in New York City or elsewhere this week, know that today's IMSI technology used by police or the FBI could greatly affect the privacy of your cell phone and protest communications.

Posted 5 days 7 hours ago

Shifting toward community-based renewable power is a strong thread running through Scotland's Radical Independence Campaign, and a free Scotland could inspire other countries to relinquish their fossil fuel addiction.

Posted 6 days 3 hours ago

The history of resistance movements shows that when 3.5% of a population mobilizes on an issue, no government can withstand it – and organizers hope the climate justice movement can reach that level.

Posted 4 days 5 hours ago

Using social media and alternative news networks, activists and citizen journalists have found new ways to tell Americans the real story – it's immediate, it's personal, its electronic and its everywhere.

Posted 5 days 7 hours ago

This weekend I won’t be marching for the climate, but I won’t be sitting around doing nothing either – I’ll be at the sixth annual Australian Climate Action Summit in Queensland delivering some inconvenient truths.

Posted 4 days 5 hours ago
Organizers Tackle Walmart Workers Rights, Florida's Voter Future

Two innovative groups leading the way for increased workers' and citizens' rights — the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OURWalmart) and Florida New Majority — are pushing towards a new form of network organizing.
 

Since 2011, the arch-conservative American Legislative Exchange Council has lost more than 60 corporate members and nearly 400 state legislative members. But even this apparently isn't news enough to expose the shadow group.

Can We Get on Obama’s Ass Now?

We have to hold President Obama accountable with more than just our words. Unless he hears us loud and clear, don’t expect him to do us any favors.

Song premiere: "We Are the 99 Percent" by Tom Morello, Tim McIlrath, Serj Tankian and Occupy Wall Street

One of the slogans of the Occupy movement was "capitalism isn't working." Now, in an epic, groundbreaking new book, French economist Thomas Piketty explains why the movement was right.

Sign Up