Occupy Portland rises up against the powerful
By Mindy Cooper/ The Portland Observer
Thousands of residents gathered at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Pioneer Courthouse Square and other downtown landmarks Thursday to unite in anger against unequal access to resources, high unemployment rates, and the wealth of the country residing in the hands of the few.
As one of the biggest demonstrations since the political protests in the 1960s Civil Rights movement, countless Portland residents joined forces with the recent Occupy Wall Street movement in New York, which has inspired activists, demonstrators and individuals throughout the country to battle the political power held by the richest one percent of Americans.
‘We are the 99 percent’ echoed the voices marching through Portland, as individuals marched, camped, and united in an effort to fight corporate greed through peaceful solidarity.
No one knew the level of local support before the rallies began. Almost a week later, however, Occupy Portland is still very much alive, making it clear that the voices of many citizens have been suppressed for far too long.
While the initial fear of police intervention lingered for many when a permit wasn’t attained for the march, officers did not arrest anyone for unlawful acts, despite the thousands of individuals who have filled the streets.
Mike Leloff, a commander of the North Precinct of the Portland Police Bureau, was on the job at Waterfront Park as the protest grew. He said he couldn’t comment politically, but he said, “It’s a good group of people, and they’ve got a message, and we are going to facilitate them to deliver that message.”
Although no defining organizational structure exists to the non-violent protest, Occupy Portland has attracted people from all different walks of life who feel they have finally been given a chance to express their dissatisfaction with political decisions that favor the wealthy interests of Wall Street and banks.
Northeast Portland resident Laura Shepard, 41, and her four-year-old daughter Gabrielle, attended the rally, where they held together a sign, which read ‘Down with the Greed.’
“We’re here because we want to get the message out that the people should be making the choices—not the few at the top,” said Shepard. “We are super excited so many people are like-minded. It gives us hope for the future,” he said.
Keri Brunson, 34, another northeast Portland resident, agreed.
Brunson attended the rally with her homemade sign that attracted heightened attention and admiration from throughout the crowd. “My sign is all about the GOP taking orders from the Koch brothers,” she said. “Unfortunately, corporate interests are buying our politicians when it comes to sharing the sacrifices of the tax burden created by Wall Street.
Guillermo Magallon, 44, said he was at the protest to gather volunteers and support the economic rights of farm workers and other low income Americans.
Bob Crispin, 67, said he has been fighting corporate greed since the 1960s to current day, where he is now a retired high-techie and cleans houses part time to “bolster” his retirement.
“This is important to me because it seems to me that the political right is calling people on any kind of safety net ‘Takers,’ but don’t mention the people at the top who are taking.”
Although there are several reasons for why individuals felt the urge to attend the rallies, many residents said Occupy Portland is the beginning of the mission to find common ground and create a better and more just future for generations to come.