NY TIMES: ONE OF THE LARGEST GROUPS OF DEMONSTRATORS
MR. BUSH HAS ENCOUNTERED SINCE SEPT. 11.
sides pretty much got what they were looking for Thursday,
August 22, 2002, at the anti-Bush protests outside the downtown
a narrow stretch of Taylor between Fifth and Sixth avenues
hundreds of packed-in demonstrators shouted their disapproval
of administration policies -- everything from the looming
attack on Iraq to corporate takeover of US politics -- until
unprovoked riot police were given orders to clear the street.
They pepper sprayed and baton charged protestors back on their
heels several hundred feet to the nearest intersection.
Home Bush! Go Home Bush!
life-threatening injuries were apparent but scores of protestors
suffered inflamed eyes, nostrils and throats from the spray.
And several protestors suffered leg wounds when they were
shot at close range by police firing rubber bullets and beanbag
rounds. Many injured received makeshift relief from bystanders
using water bottles to flush out the irritants. Inside the
Hilton President Bush carried on as guest of honor at a GOP
$1,000 a plate fundraiser primarily to benefit incumbent Oregon
Senator Gordon Smith in his campaign for re-election this
More Corporate War! No More Corporate War!
one-sided clash between riot police in black battle uniforms,
full body padding, helmets and gas masks and the peaceful
sign waving protestors lasted no more than a few minutes.
First, a police official speaking through a nearly inaudible
bullhorn warned the crowd (estimates ranged from 1,000-5,000)
that an emergency had been declared. The melee
began when one 30something woman standing at the police barricade
was grabbed and ruffed up by several cops. She offered no
resistance. The scuffle was ugly in its display of police
aggression against an unarmed and unthreatening bystander.
George! Bush Sucks!
line of riot police then moved forcefully into the crowd,
one officer letting loose with a torrent of pepper spray that
washed over everyone in his path. Another officer literally
threw himself into the crowd like a defensive lineman charging
toward an unprotected quarterback. Individual protestors scrambled
wildly to escape the burning spray whose residue wafted over
the entire block. However, most of the crowd resolutely stood
their ground and only gave way as the advancing police line
reached their individual positions.
Paying Your Salary! Why Are You Doing This?!
the protestors had been forced back to the intersection, two
squad cars with lights flashing drove straight into the crowd.
The first one was immediately swarmed over by a handful of
protestors with no other choice. They started slamming on
the car hood and top forcing it to stop. Seeing their colleagues
trapped by the crowd which had nowhere to go, police from
the barricade line quickly moved in and fired beanbag rounds,
rubber bullets and what sounded like concussion grenades that
scattered the car bashers and freed up their motorized comrades
Protest! Peaceful Protest!
intersection stayed jammed with protestors but they now backed
away from face-to-face taunting with the frontline police.
For the moment the demonstrators had had enough. Organized
chants had all died away now except for individual rants.
Most of the protestors were either tending to themselves or
We Need Water Over Here!
addition to the prominence the local television and newspaper
reports gave the protests, video of the police attacks made
the intros to all three network morning programs the next
day. The anti-Bush protestors succeeded in making public,
however fleeting, their strong opposition to government policies.
national news organizationa also covered the protests including
CNN, MSNBC and ABC News. Even The New York Times, in the final
paragraph in the Aug. 23 article about Bushs swing through
Oregon, noted that the downtown protest was one of the
largest groups of demonstrators Mr. Bush has encountered since
an Associated Press article headlined Protests Took
Presidential Staff by Surprise, had White House spokesman
Ari Fleischer admitting that Bush saw the protests from his
limousine when he arrived at the hotel.
The government and police in turn
had a quick victory in easily routing the street demonstrators
who were in no mood, yet, for pitched street battles. However,
protestors did return later that evening for more confrontations
with downtown police. Bush was spending the night in Portland,
and protestors were not about to go quietly.
The whole incident was crazy. The cops just
went off on the crowd with no provocation. Yes, we were yelling
and screaming and generally protesting loudly. But were
supposed to be able to do that here in Amerika still. Or so
got right up on the frontline barricade. Figured that was
the only place to be. And Ill admit it got very scary
for a few minutes right before they attacked. The regular
police gave way to the robocops and you could see them preparing
their advance. I started looking around me to the sides to
plan an escape in case the shit really flew.
the pepper spray started flying I was luckily on the other
side of the line. The poor bastards across from me got it
full in the face in some cases. Not a pretty sight.
the police phalanx advanced, I shot up off the street into
a recessed entrance for a parking garage. But the riot cops
followed me and others and shoved us back into the fracas.
I pushed right up into one riot goon who plowed me along pretty
good. Thankfully the dude didnt wail on me with his
drawn baton or I could be Toothless Lars right now.
it got very crazy when the squad cars rammed the crowd. As
I noted, a dozen or so guys started slamming the car, justifiably
so I thought. A few riot cops then immediately waded into
the crowd and started shooting. The newspaper says they actually
used rubber bullets, in addition to the beanbag rounds. The
smoke was really flying.
just as quickly it was all over. The protestors did not regroup
and charge the police lines. We had all been peacefully protesting
and the crowd stayed true to form. Next time, who knows? The
first Bush administration for good reason had called Portland
Little Beirut because of its strident posture
against that GOP government. Cant see where much has
was proud of our side for not turning tails and running wildly
away when the cops charged. It was more like an organized
and orderly retreat. And Im sure the cops felt good
about their work. Hey, boys, that was some good training
there. And we protected the President. Yeah, right.
was all a ridiculous and unnecessarily dangerous situation
caused by the police and secret service that could have gotten
people seriously hurt or killed. I just wish I would have
taken photos of the protestors and police during and after
the attack, but I was too busy trying to cover my ass.
Photos by LJM.