[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 
the streets.

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).

2) Justice4

... 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.


--dan handelman
Peace and Justice Works
       Iraq Affinity Group
       PO Box 42456
       Portland, OR   97242
       (503) 236-3065
       iraq at pjw.info
       Donate on line: http://www.pjw.info/pjwdonate.html

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