Pioneer Courthouse Square rally gets Occupy Portland singing
No mention made of controversial Pearl District move
Thousands of people crowded into Pioneer Courthouse Square for a Friday rally and concert to support Occupy Portland ahead of its controversial move into Jamison Square on Saturday.
Mayor Sam Adams has warned protest organizers that camping will not be allowed in the Pearl Street park, unlike the camping he is allowing in Chapman and Lownsdale squares a block from City Hall.
An announcement posted on the Occupy Portland website calls on people who intend to break the city's park curfew to bring sleeping bags, tarps and mats to Jamison Square on Saturday. The curfew is midnight.
None of the speakers who addressed the Friday crowd talked about the Saturday plan, however. Instead, they mostly assured everyone present that they are the 99 percent who have been victimized by the 1 percent on Wall Street who control the political system through their campaign contributions, a recurring theme of the movement that began with the Occupy Wall Street camp in New York around a month ago.
'The status quo must end,' said Rabbi Emanuel Rose, one of 11 speakers that included religious, labor and civil rights leaders.
Two Oregon Democratic congressmen also spoke at the rally. Portland-area U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Eugene-area Rep. Peter DeFazio spoke about legislation they will introduce next week to tax Wall Street speculators and rebuild the economy.
'It's time to roll back the attack on the middle class,' said Blumenauer, whose appearance sparked the only discord in the gathering. After he was introduced, a small group in the front of the crowd began chanting that he favors free-trade agreements, international accords that many in the crowd believe have cost American jobs. They stopped after organizers urged them to allow Blumenauer to speak.
Occupy Portland resident Carrie Medina called for an end to constitutional protections for corporations during remarks to the crowd. Medina, who said she was not speaking for anyone else, took aim at criticisms that the movement is ineffective because it has no leaders.
'We are a movement of leaders,' she said.
'This land is our land'
The rally was primarily organized by Thomas Lauderdale, the musician who leads the band Pink Martini, one of Portland's most popular acts. He and several members of the group performed during the event, including vocalist Storm Large, who recently joined the group.
They were joined by a number of other musicians, including members of the Oregon Symphony. Songs included a number of American classics, including a crowd sing-a-long to 'This Land is Your Land.'
The rally was largely upbeat with no references to problems that have surfaced at the Occupy Portland camp, including fights, overflowing toilets and an estimated $19,000 worth of damage to the parks. At the end of the rally, Lauderdale said that liberal filmmaker Michael Moore was expected to visit the camp on Monday while in town for a scheduled speaking engagement.
Other speakers included Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain, community activist Kathleen Sadat and Imam Mikal Shabazz. Also present were City Commissioner Amanda Fritz and state Rep. Jefferson Smith, who is running for Portland mayor.