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

900 environmental activists have been killed in the past decade – but only 10 perpetrators were convicted, report says.

Social movements and electoral movements, which are imperative for nonviolent social change, should work together.

In state capitols from Maine to Oregon, environmental advocates are filing bills to identify and ban noxious chemicals, and industry groups are fighting back.

As many as 17,000 people will die directly as a result of their states refusing to expand Medicaid.

Life in tent encampments, vehicles, motels, and storage units - REAL CHANGE focuses on four men who sell Real Change News, a street newspaper in Seattle. Follow ROBERT, GEORGE, DANIEL, and BUDDY as they navigate the less visible side of homelessness in America. Despite their struggles, they persevere. Each sells newspapers to get by.

"Right now the future of Spain's youth looks pretty black. The country is not creating anything. With minimal job opportunities, many young people are going to other countries to find work.”

Posted 6 days 21 hours ago

A series of potential jurors voiced opposition to Occupy Wall Street as Cecily McMillan, 25, faces seven years in prison for assault.

Posted 6 days 20 hours ago

The new 192-page book documents the activities of Occupy Austin and includes photographs of marches, arrests, assemblies, court trials, the camp itself and even law enforcement infiltration.

Posted 6 days 21 hours ago

In All the Presidents' Bankers, Nomi Prins writes a painstakingly researched history of the financial industry's collusion with the White House to create a self-serving United States financial policy.

Posted 6 days 20 hours ago

New research finds that richest 0.1 percent of Americans have doubled their share of the pie, dramatically expanding their portion of the country's wealth in three decades.

Posted 6 days 20 hours ago

For a whistleblower who exposed war crimes and unethical government behavior to face a lengthy prison term while the people exposed are not even investigated shows how confused the United States has become.

"Complete Victory": U.S. District Judge Blocks NDAA

A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction late Wednesday to block provisions of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that would allow the military to indefinitely detain anyone it accuses of knowingly or unknowingly supporting terrorism.

Occupy Denver staged a Canadian student solidarity march on June 1. Photo: lthnmsrtk

This week in Occupy, the Cruz home at 4044 Cedar Avenue in South Minneapolis became a national flashpoint for the Movement, overthrown Egyptian former dictator Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison, Canadian solidarity had everyone wearing red, the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall sparked a frenzy among politicians and activists alike, and an Occupy Yale activist left us far too soon.

The goal is to reduce emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The Gill Tract's Only Hope is Occupation

This occupation is our last chance to effectively communicate with U.C. Berkeley about the future of this land.

Sign Up