Portland Austerity Battle

Protesters clashed with police in the streets of Portland Saturday, November  as a pre-election day anti-austerity March and rally became violent. A couple hundred permit-less protesters invaded downtown Portland, ready for confrontation.

In this dramatic video, you can see mask-wearing protesters with heavy wooden signs pushing against bicycle police. As the mob starts to break through and knock both police and their bicycles over, a couple of officers can be seen pulling out pepper spray to try and stave off the assault. Eventually, a handful of police in riot gear and on horseback rescue the relatively defenseless bicycle police.

As shown in the film “Occupy Unmasked,” the Occupy Portland movement was one of the most aggressive and violent in the nation.

The November 3rd action was organized by a group called Portland Action Lab. Here is how Portland Action Lab describe themselves. This is from their website:

We emerged from Occupy Portland’s N17: Occupy the Banks, part of an Occupy Wall Street national day of action. Inspired by the success of that action, we chose to continue working together as the Action Lab within the Occupy Portland movement. We organize as a spokes council of community organizations, affinity groups, and interested individuals eager to bring coordinated direct action to Portland and beyond. Interested groups and individuals are welcome to join us.

PAL’s announcement for the march/protest also makes their position very clear:

On November 3rd the Portland Action Lab invites all people to mobilize, march, and take direct action against austerity. Corporations control our governments, hoard wealth, privatize our community resources, and burden us with enormous debt — This is AUSTERITY and we say Enough is Enough!

We resist 1% austerity budgets at all levels, creating massive cuts to education, healthcare, and other social services. Our power is in our neighborhoods, building alternatives, and taking to the streets! Let the wealthy and corporations pay for the crisis they created. No matter who is elected, we are part of building a movement where our communities will make our own decisions and control our own resources. On November 3rd, we vote with our feet!

Solidarity against austerity!

Also embedded with the protest were a number of people carrying signs from Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA), which bills itself as “the most progressive, aggressive and fastest-growing union of construction workers, and one of the most diverse and effective unions representing public service employees.” They’re also squarely in the tank for President Obama, who is featured on the cover of the election issue of the LiUNA magazine, The Laborer.

The groups’ protest also had the endorsement of Chris Hedges, a left-wing writer who has previously criticized the black bloc tactics of Occupy. Referring to Saturday’s protest, Hedges wrote:

If we do not get out in the streets and prepare for mass protests we will be shorn like sheep.  The austerity cuts, if you grasp the awful algebra of the corporate state, is just the beginning.  And they are counting on us to remain passive and entranced by their electronic hallucinations.  If I was living in Portland, rather than Princeton, New Jersey, I would be with you on November 3.  Civil disobedience is all we have left.

In February 2012 however, Hedges wrote:

The Black Bloc anarchists, who have been active on the streets in Oakland and other cities, are the cancer of the Occupy movement. The presence of Black Bloc anarchists—so named because they dress in black, obscure their faces, move as a unified mass, seek physical confrontations with police and destroy property—is a gift from heaven to the security and surveillance state.

Watch the video again and you’ll see that it’s ironic that Hedges supports this group of anarchists obscuring their faces, moving in a unified mass, and seeking physical confrontation with the police.

Get ready for a bumpy 2013.

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