You might call it the world’s shortest march. You might call it a real-life trolling of the police state. Both the police and the corporate media had learned of this event via social media… just as we had intended. Unfortunately, we weren’t there to sate their desire for tragedy, but rather, to have a conversation as concerned citizens. Corporate media reporters, descending on the scene in expectation of a replay of last year’s police violence, kept asking, “When is something going to happen?”
This time around, we were assembled to protest the FBI’s simultaneous harassment of activists in Portland, Oakland, Olympia, and Seattle, just prior to this year’s May Day. That, and them driving an Armored Personnell Carrier full of federal combat police through SE Portland, with similar militarized deployments in those other three cities. An over-arching theme of our protest was the right (and necessity) of silence in the face of state repression, so we covered our mouths, with masks or with tape, to signify this. I admit it — I referred to the APC as a “tank.” Somebody on Twitter split hairs about the difference… I swore at him in my reply.
We marched in silence in the street just long enough to raise the police state’s hackles — and then, just as quickly as we had taken to the streets, we were suddenly assembled in silence in front of the Federal Building. The police showed just how ready & willing they were to swoop in with overwhelming force. But, they didn’t have the opportunity to hurt or arrest anyone. And, to me, they looked quite foolish, as they stood around, in great numbers, doing nothing… for the entire hour.
Surrounded on two blocks by local & Federal police, I observed, in conversation with the Oregonian reporter, that there were some obvious ways that the city could make up for its budgetary shortfall. She asked if I had seen the report of the PPB’s $100,000+ salaries.
I was informed by those monitoring the police scanner that there were multiple units of cops staged in various locations throughout downtown, as far away as Voodoo Doughnuts. It sure did seem like overkill for a crowd of 50 people.
Our silence was lifted, and the protest transformed to a dance party, by the “surprise!” arrival of the music of bike swarm.
Finally, we marched from the Federal Building to O’Bryant Square, to meet up with the May Day main event. We walked right past the bicycle cops, waving, continuing along the sidewalk in front of the Justice Center. We ended up remaining on the sidewalk the entire route, given that our small group was tightly escorted by a small army of bicycle & motorcycle police.
While the Oregonian did vaguely pick up on the message about FBI repression of activism (sorta), none of the corporate media outlets that reported on this event said a damned word about the tank. The corporate media reporters seemed to lose interest when it became clear that no activists were going to get beaten or arrested. A disappointed KOIN reporter was overhead telling his colleague to go elsewhere to seek some exciting footage — but promised to stay just in case this protest got “rowdy.”
- Ustream coverage by Mungen Cakes
- Ustream coverage by Kevin Takalo — part 1 & part 2
- Ustream coverage by Joe Freedom — part 1, part 2, part 3, & part 4
- Filter Free Radio — May Day 2013 Our Roads Are For Revelry Not For FBI Tanks
- Oregonian — May Day: Demonstrators, police prepare for a busy afternoon in Portland
- KOIN — May Day marches bring awareness, results
- KGW — May Day marchers in downtown Portland
- KATU — Workers’ rights supporters march downtown for May Day