'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Friday, October 15, 2004

Oregon Welcomes Bush 

In two seperate incidents yesterday Oregonians got demonstrative about their feelings for our Dear Leader with predictable results. First three school teachers were thrown out of a Bush appearance at the Jackson County Fairgrounds for the crime of wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the words "Protect Our Civil Liberties". All three women were carrying valid tickets. Angry about reports of other peaceful protesters being expelled from Bush rallies and threatened with arrest, the three teachers attempted to choose a message that was completely inoffensive, thus, forcing the Bush campaign to show its colors as starkly as possible. Although, they made it past a couple of checkpoints they were utimately escorted out by Bush campaign officials who told them their T-shirts were "obscene." Here's a link to the Associated Press's coverage of the story.

After the Fairgrounds rally Bush retired to a Jacksonville, Ore., inn before going out again to another appearance. An estimated 500 protesters were there waiting for him, and a riot ensued in which police fired "pepperballs" at the crowd. Apparently pepperballs are gelatin-encased cayenne pepper powder; other witnesses say tasers, gas, and rubber bullets were used as well. The AP's coverage of the riot reports on the familiar he-said/she-said back and forth between spokespeople for the protesters and spokespeople for the police that inevitably arises in mainstream media accounts of events such as this. A participant in the demonstration told the AP, "We were here to protest Bush and show our support for Kerry. Nobody was being violent. We were out of the streets so cars could go by. We were being loud, but I never knew that was against the law." The police said "the protest was peaceful until a few people started pushing police," which, you know, isn't much of a defense given that the police were the ones firing the non-lethal guns and there are pictures of people who were shot in the back. Here's an excerpt from a first-hand account:

Around 200 people gathered in Jacksonville to protest the arrival of George Bush. The crowd included lots of families including babies and a numerous highschool students. People gathered at 5:30 in Griffin Park while others went strait out to Main Street including members of the Yurok Tribe who were there to protest Bush's impact on salmon. ... All was peaceful and no riot police were even seen until 7:30 or 8:00 when they began to emerge. Pro and anti Bush citizens were somewhat intermixed and struggled to chant louder than the other side, but no physical confrontations occured between them to my knowledge.

The riot police formed a line across Main Street and began to push the crowd, telling them to move back. People began to slowly, but reluctantly move back when suddenly the sound of a weapon was heard and pepper spray filled the air. This allegedly occured when the police pushed a 65 year old man to the ground. Another man placed his body in front of the elderly man to protect him. The police allegedly fired pepper spray projectiles at his back at point blank range. I saw several wounds on the man's back that were noticeably bruised. It was immediately following this event that the president's motorcade passed through to the Jacksonville Inn where he is staying. The police then continued to march in lock step with battons raised sometimes pushing and striking those in front of them as the crowd engaged in occasional chants of "Peaceful Protest" and "Public Space, Free Speech."

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