[pjw] REPORT BACK: Digital sign premieres at Friday rally #13 under stay-at-home orders
Peace and Justice Works
pjw at pjw.info
Sat Jun 20 13:35:45 EDT 2020
Hi supporters of Peace and Justice Works
Last night at the 973rd consecutive Friday rally for peace and justice, we
officially premiered a new tool for social change: a rolling, scrolling
sign with messages about US foreign and domestic policies.
The good news is that, whether due to it being the first day of Multnomah
County entering "phase 1 reopening," the hunger of people for information
with the uprisings for racial equality and police accountability, or the
presence of the sign, more people than ever since the lockdown gave us
thumbs up, honked horns, and a whopping (comparatively speaking) six
people took fact sheets about Iraq and/or Copwatch newsletters.
The bad news is that while we invited the media and I brought a camcorder
to document the sign, no media showed up and the camcorder failed to
function properly. None of the five of us at the event had a cell
phone (but we did all wear face coverings).
HOWEVER, I did make this recording when I ran a test on June 10, so you
can see the messages we used and what the sign looks like mounted on the
little green wagon of peace.
Initially conceived as a sign to focus on US military interventions and
presence, the digital readerboard sign also includes information about
police accountability. The political climate around the world has come to
recognize police violence an issue related to militarism and racism, as
PJW has noted since creating its project group Portland Copwatch in 1992.
The sign is supported by Peace and Justice Works' Ann Huntwork Fund for
Creative Action; Ann Huntwork was a longtime member of PJW who
brainstormed the concept of this sign long before she died in September
2017. She enjoyed mischievous direct actions such as sitting with
grandmothers in rocking chairs to block the entrance of the Portland
military recruiting station. She also crossed the line at the School of
the Americas in Georgia in 2001, leading to a 6 month federal prison
sentence. While in prison, she organized and cared for the women she met
Even though we didn't have our intended "audience" I still used our
"cone-a-phone" (an orange cone mounted on an oil filter wrench used as a
non-electronic megaphone) to talk about the 18.5+ years the event has been
going on at that corner, rain or shine. I acknowledged that up until March
of this year, Portland Peaceful Response Coalition coordinated the rallies
but that Peace and Justice Works took over responsibility when the
Governor's lockdown went into effect.
I gave the history of the sign and talked about Ann Huntwork.
I connected the issues of the US' ongoing wars since 9/11 and the movement
to end police violence. I noted that the US still has 5200 troops (and the
world's largest embassy) in Iraq, and that as of yesterday the
"withdrawal" of troops from Afghanistan had concluded.
Quick test: Do you know how many US troops that means are still in
Afghanistan under the agreement with the Taliban? If you said 8600 give
yourself a gold star.
I also mentioned the US' continued provocation of Iran and Venezuela, and
recent incursions by ship and aircraft into disputed territories near
Turning to what's going on with police, we acknowledged the amazing 22-day
streak of ongoing protests here in Portland, and the $15 million in cuts
to the police budget made by City Council on Wednesday. However, we noted
that was nowhere near the $50 million demanded by the people marching in
For those who didn't watch the video, the sign has two messages:
1) US out
... Iraq ... Afghanistan ... Syria ... Libya ... Pakistan ... Yemen ...
Somalia ... North America ...
We included this last one based on discussions we had with Ann who always
reminded us about the rights of indigenous people and how the nation was
built on genocide and stolen land.
Along the march route I noted that during the test run last week, someone
asked why Israel or Palestine isn't on the list. That's because while the
US continues to send Israel a huge amount of military aid and support its
occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, they are not directly occupying or
bombing those countries. The seven countries listed have all been bombed
and/or occupied by the US since October 2001 with most of the warfare
continuing (except for a now-lengthy lull in Pakistan).
... George Floyd ... Andre Gladen ... Quanice Hayes ... Aaron Campbell ...
Keaton Otis ... Kendra James ...
These are names of African Americans killed by the police; obviously
George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis in May precipitating the current
global movement. The others were killed by Portland Police in 2019, 2017,
2010 (both Aaron Campbell and Keaton Otis) and 2003. This is a digital way
to "say their names."
Notably the officers who killed George Floyd were fired and charged with
crimes. The officer in the Aaron Campbell case was fired and in the Kendra
James case was suspended for 6 months without pay, but arbitrators
reinstated them both with back pay.
You can learn about the history of bad arbitration decisions (and a bill
pending for the special session of the Oregon Legislature, which isn't bad
but doesn't fix the problem) here at the Copwatch site:
As for why the sign doesn't say "U.S. out of" and "Justice for" rather
than the abbreviated versions-- I can't change the font size on our sign
so it was a practical matter of what would fit across the screen.
Please feel free to share the link to the video of the sign, though I'm
hoping eventually to get video of us at the Square and along the route for
the full effect.
Peace and Justice Works
Iraq Affinity Group
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242
iraq at pjw.info
Donate on line: http://www.pjw.info/pjwdonate.html
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