Occupy protest targets 'corporate greed'
UPDATE • Some businesses forced to shut down because of march
Hundreds of Occupy Portland protesters marched through downtown Wednesday afternoon, closing offices of some businesses in a rally against what protesters said was corporate greed.
Wednesday's march and protests were part of a national F29 rally called "Shut Down the Corporations Day of Action."
The protests were organized by the Portland Action Lab in coordination with similar marches and rallies in 70 cities across the nation. It was aimed at businesses, lawmakers and groups that work with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a Washington, D.C., organization that promotes free-market, limited government legislation across the nation. It's state chairman in Oregon is state Rep. Gene Whisnant, a Sunriver Republican.
'We took action today to challenge ALEC, a group made up of the world's largest corporations, as well as many state and federal politicians," said Nicholas Caleb of Occupy Portland. "ALEC writes legislation focused on amassing more profit for the wealthiest 1 percent at the expense of our communities.'
During Wednesday's march, members of the Animal Defense League occupied the offices of Lindsay, Hart, Neil and Weigler and Paul S. Cosgrove, the state corporate co-chairman for the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Protesters also rallied outside offices of other businesses they said were linked to the legislative exchange council, including ExxonMobil, McDonalds, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Verizon, FedEx, Taco Bell, Walgreens, Shell, Wells Fargo and Bank of America.
In one bizarre incident, a man who purported to work in public relations for Regence BlueCross BlueShield told a crowd of protesters that Regence was withdrawing its membership in the legislative council. The problem was, the man had no connection to Regence, and the health insurance company is not a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council.
"To make the facts clear, our company is not a member of ALEC and as such, we cannot resign from this organization's membership rolls," said Scott Burton, with Regence strategic communications. "We appreciate the public's right to organize and exercise their right to free speech. However, we'd like to take this opportunity to correct the record."
Vandalism hits businesses
The march began with a rally in Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Organizers did not release a march route, but the group stated on its website that it plans to protest at a handful of Portland corporate offices.
In a statement, Portland Mayor Sam Adams said that the group has not received a permit for the march. He said Portland police have been planning for F29, 'with a goal of facilitating a peaceful, effective and orderly event.'
The march comes after two banks and a coffee shop were vandalized Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Two separate anarchist groups claimed responsibility for the vandalism in solidarity with F29.
No arrests have been made in either incident.
In the past, Occupy Portland marches have been both peaceful and marred by violence. A large march on Oct. 6, 2011, ended with protesters setting up camp in Chapman and Lownsdale squares. Police closed the parks and the protesters left on Nov. 13.
KOIN Local 6 contributed to this story.