Today around Noon, what appears to be a fairly large showing of support for the Occupy Wall street will take place in the streets of downtown Portland. While I personally expect no troubles from organizers and participants, there has always been the threat and real damage caused by non-affiliated individuals looking to make trouble. While it sounds like a 1930’s cliche’, it’s a real problem. Anarchists in particular have used these peaceful demonstrations in the past as opportunities to clash with Police, break windows and damage property owned by the uninvolved.
Demonstrations downtown thoroughly anger and upset building owners, business owners and employees of downtown businesses. Rare is it that the principals of the protests are unpopular with these individuals, in fact – most are very supportive (except for perhaps political hot button issues like Abortion). What becomes very frustrating to downtown workers and business owners is how they become trapped downtown when streets get blocked or police activity has streets clogged.The noise also creates a difficult environment to work in and many businesses shut down for the day.
The good news is that Occupy Portland organizers are communicating to everyone who participates to “Keep Feet out of the Street”. That is, don’t march on the streets and block traffic – that’s a large part of what has gotten demonstrators in other cities (Seattle, LA, New York) arrested and in trouble. It will, however, create problems for downtown workers who need to get home trying to traverse the sidewalks.
Part of why protests and demonstrations are successful is that they force the average person working in that downtown setting to take notice. I’m not the type of person who cares to get involved with these sort of things directly. I have little interest in taking the types of risks that these demonstrators take. They run the risk of clashing with an already corrupt police organization – one that has nearly zero accountability for it’s poor decisions, actions and injustices to citizens.
Call me a wuss or a pushover, but there are things in my life that are more important: my health, freedom, ability to pay my mortgage and spend time with my family. I applaud everyone who will be out there today putting themselves in (potentially, hopefully unlikely) harms way. I will be at home and not in my usual downtown office, because I’m recovering from a cold and not because I’m trying to avoid the demonstration.
Best of luck to everyone. Keep your head on straight.