Protesters in Portland, Oregon, their numbers nearly halved after last years embarrassing conduct by some who burned a soldier in effigy and defecated on the American flag, held another march today in spite of the rainy Pacific Northwest weather.
Marking the fifth year of the Iraqi Theater of the War on Terror, and still reeling from the antics of some far leftist protesters just last year, anti-war groups in Portland organized under an umbrella group, the PDX Peace coalition and held another protest/march today, claiming attendance of some 8,000, just over half of last years claims of 15,000 attending.
It what can only be surmised as desiring to draw support and numbers from non-citizens in the country illegally, the groups made their flyers available in both English and Spanish this year.
In the weeks running up to today’s “World Without War” march, the protest groups debated inclusion of the younger, more radical groups that caused last years disruption and who advocate “disruptive and sometimes violent civil disobedience.”
One group, Oregon Military Families Speak Out, who has supported protests of the past, withdrew their endorsement of the planned march this year due to a potential repeat of the despicable conduct of some last year, which included a young man defecating on a burning American Flag in the middle of the street, burning a US Soldier in effigy while chanting “Bye Bye GI In Iraq Your Gonna Die” and singing, “Build a bonfire, Build a bonfire, Put the soldiers on the top. Put the fascists in the middle, and, we'll burn the f**king lot.”
Adele Kubein, a member of Oregon Military Families Speak Out said,
"We wanted assurances that there wouldn't be actions that disrespect the troops. We didn't get those."
Tom Hastings, who teaches the Ecology of War and Peace at liberal Portland State University, said of last years conduct,
“That's a great way to erode the movement,” adding, “the debate about how the radicals would mesh with the coalition slowed planning for this year's rally and turned off some of the more mainstream activists.”
Showing despair in their decreased numbers and ineffectiveness, one of the event's organizers, Kelly Campbell, of the American Friends Service Committee said,
“I think people are recognizing that we're not going to have a big march and the war will end.”
Echoing this, Will Seaman of Portland Peaceful Response said,
“It’s easy to despair. But if you understand the scope of the problems, it’s ridiculous to think we’re going to solve them overnight.”
By reports so far, marchers, carrying their signs and beating on drums, marching in the rain through downtown Portland, caused only traffic delays of some 20 minutes and delaying public transportation as they stretched out over half a dozen blocks early afternoon, closely watched by Police.
In the pre-protest efforts at reinventing the protest groups after last year’s debacle, they drafted a resolution to make Portland a sanctuary where police officers refrain from arresting soldiers AWOL, trying to revive the PDX Sanctuary movement, who’s mission statement says,
“We the people of Portland, OR, seek to provide a sanctuary for members of the military who exercise their duty to object to an illegal war. To that end, we hope to have the County Board and the City Council pass resolutions to not waste public funds on the arrest or detention of service members who are absent without leave.”
Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, mirroring the sanctuary effort, created a page where they state their mission is,
“The project aims to (1) counter-recruit the military's effort to swindle, coerce, and deceive the youth of America into entering military service; and (2) provide direct counseling and information to GI's attempting to withdraw from military service.”
Both ignore the seriousness of being AWOL (Absent Without Official Leave), especially during war time and that it is a Federal Crime, that has the potential to further erode relations between Portland and Federal Authorities after Mayor Tom Potter withdrew Portland from anti-terror task force in 2005 because he wasn’t granted access to Top Secret information.
Explaining the seriousness of going AWOL or deserting, the US Army released a pamphlet, AWOL and the CONSEQUENCES.
Another protest, some 150 miles north of Portland, in Tacoma, Washington, a much smaller band of malcontents with the intent of “shutting down” Military Recruitment Offices in a mall, were surprised when they were met by superior numbers of counter protesters who assembled earlier to protect the Recruitment Offices and the Recruiters inside, fearing the group would repeat actions taken elsewhere against Military Recruiters.
Other than shouting matches between the groups, separated by Police, no arrests or other incidents occurred, all disbanding with the counter-protesters feeling confident they had defended the Recruiters well.
Unlike during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, when anti-war anarchists had the run of the country and received the support of the main media unchallenged, today’s anti-war cretins will be met anytime they indicate a desire to harm or belittle our Troops by those of us who endured their abuse decades ago, when we returned from the battlefield of protecting freedoms these instigators only take for granted, rain or shine.