by kgw.com Staff | February 28, 2012 |
PORTLAND – Occupy Portland protesters marched from Waterfront Park through downtown Wednesday in driving rain under a sea of yellow umbrellas for a day of demonstrations called “F29.”
The goal, said organizers, was to disrupt targeted businesses with a march and civil disobedience.
It began with a couple hundred people gathering at Waterfront Park at 11:30 a.m., under the west side of the Burnside Bridge. Then, at 1 p.m., they began marching, winding through several downtown streets, including Broadway and Salmon. The marchers were, at times, disrupting traffic.
The group released a statement regarding their solidarity with a purported movement in 70 cities to protest companies including ExxonMobil, McDonalds, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Verizon, FedEx, Taco Bell, Walgreens, Shell, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America.
“We took action today to challenge ALEC, a group made up of the world’s largest corporations, as well as many state and federal politicians,” Nicholas Caleb of Occupy Portland said. “ALEC writes legislation focused on amassing more profit for the wealthiest 1% at the expense of our communities.”
The march came to a halt again at the Salmon Street Fountain and the crowd started to disperse at Waterfront Park late Wednesday afternoon.
Portland Police called the demonstrations well facilitated, generally peaceful and largely non-contentious. Lt. Robert King says F29 organizers designated a police liaison which made for reduced tension and more effective communication between police and protesters.
In all, seven people were arrested throughout the day. At the Wells Fargo Tower, three people were charged with criminal trespassing after they chained themselves to property with bike locks.
Two were arrested along SW Broadway for vandalism after jumping on a Verizon van. At a Bank of America at NE 12th and Broadway, two people were arrested for criminal trespassing after they refused to leave.
Photos: F29 Occupy Portland event
The protesters also made a brief stop at the Wells Fargo Building in SW Portland, but nothing was damaged. Wells Fargo issued a statement shortly afterwards that said they support the right to free speech. Bank officials added that Wells Fargo has repaid all TARP funds and was eager to help improve the economy by lending to individuals and businesses.More: Wells Fargo statement
The America Legislative Exchange Council was a professed target of the protest.
“That’s the peoples’ right. I want them to be able to express their opinion. I just hope they won’t be disrespectful of the business we have to get through. We need to get the people’s work done,” Rep. Gene Whisnant (R) Sunriver & Chairman of ALEC said Wednesday.
The protesters did not disclose to police or the public any specific march routes beforehand, but explained on their web site that it would be a “peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience” to protest corporations. They did not obtain a permit for the march.
Similar demonstrations were planned in at least 60 other cities.
Overnight Tuesday, vandals broke out windows in three Portland banks and one Starbucks. The group that claimed responsibility for the damage said it wanted to send a message to Occupy protesters, calling them out for their emphasis on peaceful marches.
The Occupy Portland protesters did not want to be associated with the group that caused the damage on Tuesday. They responded via twitter with this message: “To the rock tossers: Thank you for not hiding behind Occupy and forcing peaceful marchers to take a beating for you this time.”