Report from N3 Anti-Austerity Action in Portland

“Despite police confrontations, the day of action succeeded in its aims of communicating that we do not consent to coming austerity programs,” said Michel Losier of Portland Action Lab. “The 1% must pay for the crisis that they created.”

Post-Action Press Announcement

(Portland, Nov. 3, 2012) Today, a coalition of labor, education, anti-war, and community organizations took to the streets to protest against national, state, and local austerity measures that seek to put the burden of the financial crisis on the working class with budget cuts and the privatization of our social and public services. The demonstration was organized closely to the election to oppose the bipartisan ‘grand bargain’ that will require $4 trillion in cuts. The demonstrators came with the clear message that the wealthy elite responsible for this crisis should pay for it and that we also need to look to our communities to organize support and solutions. We estimate that about 1000 demonstrators were in the streets at the peak of the day of action and energy was consistently positive throughout.

Police had an early presence at the event, confiscating two banners that they claimed were “under investigation” when there were only a few dozen people at Holladay Park. During the march, the police indiscriminately pepper sprayed the front of the protest when it tried to turn North on 14th St., accusing demonstrators of using their banners as “shields”. Many people were pepper sprayed, including a group of high school students that were out protesting against cuts to education. Overall, it appears that around 25 people were sprayed in the eyes and received first aid from other protesters. A police van with riot police hitched to the outside would later pass by the group of recovering protesters and wave mockingly at the group.

Portland Police later issued a press release claiming attempts to contact organizers weeks before the event. The Portland Action Lab, the organizing body for this event was never contacted by the police regarding a permit. Either the police did not utilize the clear and established channels of contact with PAL (our email address is public), attempt contact in person at the fully public meetings where the event was organized, or are simply being dishonest as to justify the use of force after the fact. We invite the PPB to release evidence of their attempts to contact us and steadfastly declare that there is never a justification for the police to use violence against peaceful demonstrators. It’s unconscionable that a bureau that is under investigation by the Justice Department for civil rights abuses still behaves this way with the cameras on. Victims of the day’s police brutality are encouraged to submit complaints to the city and we will be gathering footage of these incidents to submit to federal agencies and the media. Political speech is a fundamental right and we will continue to fight for it.

“Despite police confrontations, the day of action succeeded in its aims of communicating that we do not consent to coming austerity programs,” said Michel Losier of Portland Action Lab. “The 1% must pay for the crisis that they created.”

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