Friday, October 7, 2011
Easily 5,000. The local media said between 3 and 4,000. Probably closer to 6,000 occupied Portland. In synch with the burgeoning movement that started on Wall Street, my town put it’s name next to those other cities where people want to express their frustration and anger with the current political malaise. Katie and I decided we needed to go there, so on a gloomy Thursday afternoon, we boarded the nearest bus and headed for Waterfront Park. Best not to drive anywhere near political demonstrations. My 60s experience always kicks in and I focus on what shoes to wear, having enough pockets, and something to write with. Too bad I forgot my camera. At least a couple of friends of mine didn’t and I can use their pictures as well as those of the Oregonian newspaper.
For me it was all about the signs they carried. Those said it all. That and the cross section of people represented. It was billed as the other 99%, and if the diversity of the Portland crowd is any indication, it surely was.
So, in the spirit of Bob Dylan "Hard Rain's Gonna Fall, here's a teaspoon of what I saw,heard, and felt my blue and brown eyed darlin' young ones:
I saw 5000 people carrying signs* and calling and responding
I saw people of all ages who felt it was important to stop their daily routine and put their bodies in the street to make a statement together
I saw hundreds looking down on all this from office high rises and hotels
I saw an older man in a suit carrying a triangular folded American flag (as inoff a coffin)
I saw more dogs and children than I've ever seen at any political demonstration
I heard "The Times are Changin'" on a boom box
I heard the monitors and organizers stress non-violence in any encounter with others
I heard the local media keep referring to this 99% as "protesters."
I smelled all manner of smoke, from herbal cigarettes, to tobacco to weed, to sewers, to expensive perfume, to rain.
I felt my youth return in the faces of the 20 sometings present.
I felt proud of Portland that, for the most part, people get that they need to do something without alienating others.
BUT...The best way to experience all this is to take a look at the signs people carried.* Here is a random sampling from my eyes to yours:
"Never be deceived the rich will allow you to vote away their wealth"
The only way to practice democracy is to practice democracy
Care aobut our future not Snookie's new shoes
We are the ones we've been waiting for
It's easier to get a gun than buy my education
I need a job; fuck your bonus
The police are part of the 99%
If I stole 50% of your 401k, I'd be in jail
I"m wait listed for Chemo thanks to Wall Street
Will work for democracy
Thee were hundreds of others.