Read

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.

Add new comment

Sign Up

Article Tabs

climate chaos, carbon emissions, climate movement, Break Free from Fossil Fuels, worldwide climate protests, disrupting dirty power, Climate Mobilization, 350.org, keep it in the ground, renewable energy transition

Starting next week, a global wave of mass actions will target the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects.

protest movements, social mobilizations, movement of the squares, Occupy Wall Street, Podemos Party, Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders, protest demands, horizontal democracy, Arab Spring, Nuit Debout

The movements of the squares were a watershed moment that profoundly changed grassroots and institutional politics – they have enthused in equal measure as they have disappointed, both under-delivering and over-delivering on their promises.

The Bay Area currency operates a commercial barter system – where businesses with unused inventory or excess capacity "deposit" their excess into an exchange, and “withdraw” other businesses’ excess goods and services instead of money.

climate crisis, climate information, Climate Feedback, accurate climate coverage

Climate Feedback brings together a global network of scientists who use a new web-annotation platform to provide feedback on climate change reporting.

Black Lives Matter, ACLU of Oregon, state surveillance, surveillance programs

Monitoring the social media use of BLM activists is an example of "how the level of trust between law enforcement and communities of color has been so damaged," the civil rights group says.

migrant crisis, East African migrants, migrant smugglers, organ trafficking

A week ago, on April 17, 400 East Africans drowned in the Mediterranean Sea after their boat capsized on the way to Italy – and when the numbers get this big, we forget that they are individual lives being lost, like this, every day.

Posted 6 days 5 hours ago
Panama Papers, tax avoidance, tax shelters, corporate tax evasion, Oxfam

The names on the list of "Broken At the Top" are like a who’s who of big business – and some of the headline figures are simply staggering.

Posted 3 days 23 hours ago
British academies, privatized education, lower teaching standards, low teacher pay, National Union of Teachers, Anti-Academies Alliance

“It is a complete bonfire of pay and conditions," said David Gilchrist of the Anti-Academies Alliance, who claims the government has "no evidence to back up the claim that academies improve educational standards – in fact the opposite is true."

Posted 5 days 30 min ago

In recent weeks, thousands of people marched and were arrested on the steps of the Capitol demanding that the people’s voice be heard: that we the people, not money, be the driving force of our government.

Posted 6 days 5 hours ago

The Bay Area currency operates a commercial barter system – where businesses with unused inventory or excess capacity "deposit" their excess into an exchange, and “withdraw” other businesses’ excess goods and services instead of money.

Posted 3 days 4 min ago

In recent weeks, thousands of people marched and were arrested on the steps of the Capitol demanding that the people’s voice be heard: that we the people, not money, be the driving force of our government.

climate chaos, carbon emissions, climate movement, Break Free from Fossil Fuels, worldwide climate protests, disrupting dirty power, Climate Mobilization, 350.org, keep it in the ground, renewable energy transition

Starting next week, a global wave of mass actions will target the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects.

Panama Papers, tax avoidance, tax shelters, corporate tax evasion, Oxfam

The names on the list of "Broken At the Top" are like a who’s who of big business – and some of the headline figures are simply staggering.

solar energy, rooftop solar, California clean energy policies, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, carbon emissions, San Francisco solar policy

Starting Jan. 1 of next year, new commercial and residential buildings here up to 10 stories high must install rooftop solar systems for heat or electricity – making San Francisco the first major U.S. city to enact such legislation.

The Bay Area currency operates a commercial barter system – where businesses with unused inventory or excess capacity "deposit" their excess into an exchange, and “withdraw” other businesses’ excess goods and services instead of money.