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

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.

As credit card companies try and spur consumer spending in the United States with introductory perks and cash rewards, they have raised interest rates on other customers to a remarkable 21 percent.

Inmates will refuse work, calling for education, rehabilitation and an end to overcrowding, life sentences without parole – and “the free labor system.”

Oil spills are the reality of transporting oil – and in the Pacific Northwest, where workers from the fishing to tourism industries depend on oil-free waterways, the threat is all the more grave.

The rage and nihilism that come from the frustrations of American life are expressed through violence.

Revolts are shaking the world, bursting in the most unexpected places, but they rarely take power. Is the big explosion still coming?

Posted 5 days 19 hours ago

The Vermont Senate passed a bill to require labeling on all GMO foods sold in the state – signaling a wave of nationwide victories against the Gene Giants may be underway.

Posted 5 days 19 hours ago

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.

Posted 6 days 19 hours ago

From climate change to Crimea, the natural gas industry is supreme at exploiting crisis for private gain.

Posted 5 days 19 hours ago

A new Cold War has arisen between Russia and the U.S. over the future of Ukraine.

Posted 2 days 19 hours ago
In Dead of Night, A Coup for the Investor Class

While Congress, the press and the public were kept in the dark, 600 corporate lobbyists gained access to the secretively negotiated text of the Trans Pacific Partnership — a free-trade agreement of epic scale that would grant supreme power to global corporations.

Tim DeChristopher is among the organizers calling for a Global Climate Convergence for People, Planet and Peace over Profit.

Corporate Feudalism: Paying Taxes to Your Boss

Employers are already treating their workers like their subjects. Now some of them get to collect taxes, too.

Report: Andean Glaciers Melting at "Unprecedented" Rates

Climate change has shrunk Andean glaciers between 30 and 50 percent since the 1970s and could melt many of them away altogether in coming years, according to a study published on Tuesday in the journal Cryosphere.

There is no limit to the amount of money billionaires can give to influence the political discussion in this country.

Sign Up