[pjw] USS Portland: Media Ignores Protest Against $2 Billion Warship inPortland (April 21, 2018)
Peace and Justice Works
pjw at pjw.info
Sun Apr 22 18:48:56 EDT 2018
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We sent this to the media a few moments ago.
MEDIA IGNORES PROTEST AGAINST $2 BILLION WARSHIP IN PORTLAND
by Dan Handelman, Peace and Justice Works
On Saturday, April 21, the USS Portland was officially commissioned at
the Port of Portland on the west side of the Willamette River. Directly
across from the estimated 6000 people at the commissioning ceremony,
activists erected a 20 foot wide, 7 foot tall banner reading "No War."
All four TV stations and at least three local newspapers covered the
commissioning ceremony. Only one paper-- Willamette Week -- noted there
was a demonstration on the west side by anti-war activists.
KPTV-12 also spoke to the west side demonstrators.*
The papers and TV stations seemed to be deliberately cropping their
photos to ignore the giant banner which was clearly visible from the
ship's vantage point.
A photographer working with Peace and Justice Works, which organized
the banner protest, was able to get on board the ship and take photos,
including this one of a weapon aimed close to the protest.
The photographer reports that the navy crew was joking about how in
another time and place they would have blown away the demonstrators.
In March, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler proclaimed April 21 to be "USS
Portland Day" to honor the giant warship's commissioning. This
"amphibious landing dock" has two anti-air missile systems, two 30MM
anti-surface guns, nine 50 caliber anti-surface machine guns, and
according to Naval Today, an experimental laser weapon. Peace and
Justice Works (PJW) asked the Mayor to withhold the proclamation seeing
as in 2012, Portland City Council adopted a policy for redirecting
funds from wars to human needs.
Several of our Mayors have supported
similar resolutions at the National Conference of Mayors. One
resolution passed in 2017 asks cities to direct department heads to
consider what they could accomplish if money now being spent on the
military were redirected for local use. It called attention to the fact
that even "fractions of the ... military budget could provide free,
top-quality education from pre-school through college, end hunger and
starvation on earth, convert the U.S. to clean energy, provide clean
drinking water everywhere it's needed on the planet, build fast trains
between all major U.S. cities."
The proclamation states that the USS Portland will "protect our nations
[sic] interests but also provide aid during emergencies such as
earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes or other disasters." When Iraq was
under United States and United Nations sanctions, our country refused
to let in hundreds of items the Iraqi people desperately needed,
including tires for their ambulances. The federal government claimed
those items were "dual use" for both civilian and military. Just as it
was a morally imprecise stretch to prevent tires from reaching the
Iraqi public because they might be used for military purposes, it is a
stretch in the other direction to praise a warship because it may
someday be used for humanitarian relief efforts. Mayor Wheeler echoed
his contention that the ship was for humanitarian purposes in his
comments at the ceremony.
A little research turned up the cost of this floating behemoth-- two
billion dollars. The commissioning ceremony itself is costing hundreds
of thousands of dollars and is predictably (but dishonorably) being
supported by dozens of companies who profit from war including Northrop
Grumman, Raytheon, Boeing and Insitu (which have plants in Oregon) and
Wilsonville's FLIR Systems (which makes infrared devices to help target
When warships visit our waterfront during the Rose Festival, we are now
met with signs that say "No Trespassing-- US Navy Restricted Area-- USE
OF FORCE AUTHORIZED."
It is unfortunate that the Navy has decided to name such a warship
after our City. Given the current international tensions, Portland
should refrain from praising military spending when our housing, roads,
parks, schools and other critical infrastructure are under-funded and
crumbling, and given the US military's role as the world's largest
institutional driver of climate change. As Martin Luther King, Jr.
said: "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on
military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching
* RT (formerly known as Russia Today) also covered the west side
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