[pjw] REPORT BACK: Friday rally #35 under stay-at-home orders

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Sat Nov 21 15:14:49 EST 2020

Greetings supporters of peace and justice

Last night at the Friday rally we had five people in attendance, four of 
whom went on the march. One of the regulars who normally takes public 
transit used a car to get downtown. Our fifth was a colleague who's living 
downtown and was able to walk to the rally. Though I've talked to this 
person almost weekly since the pandemic hit, I realized we had not seen 
each other in person for over 8 months. I later realized that means this 
lockdown has gone on about long enough for someone to have conceived and 
given birth to a baby (albeit a few weeks early). A long time for many of 
us to be apart. And in the meantime, over 250,000 Americans have now died 
from COVID.

We were all masked up and stayed socially distanced. There was a moderate 
amount of foot and auto traffic, strangely feeling more busy than the 
previous few weeks even though the Governor's new orders went into effect 
on Wednesday. We got a lot of appreciative responses including (as far as 
I remember) the first direct positive comment about the Ann Huntwork Peace 
Memorial Sign.

During the rally we talked about current events including the announced 
prosecution of Australian special forces for war crimes involving murder 
in Afghanistan.


I heard on the radio that the US is afraid of such charges coming up for 
American forces, so noted that while the US had signed onto the 
International Criminal Court when it was created, the treaty was 
"unsigned" by George W. Bush.

(from 2002: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/1970312.stm )

In other Afghanistan news, the new secretary of defense has ordered all 
but 2500 troops home from that country, and from Iraq. The US also plans 
to pull troops out of Somalia. All of this is making the establishment in 
Congress and the media freak out, even though America's been at war in 
those countries for at least 19, 17.5 (or really almost 30) and 13 (or 
perhaps 27) years, respectively.



While these condemnations are coming from both Democrats and Republicans, 
I noted that we might disagree with 90% of Trump's policies, and that the 
US will likely continue to intervene in these countries by airpower, but 
it's wrong to be against the move because of who made the decision. It's 
past time to bring the troops home now!

Along those lines, later along the march route it was noted that the new 
defense secretary was among those who talked Trump out of a military 
strike against Iran in retaliation for another report of increased uranium 


But it's possible that President-elect Biden will keep the messy situation 
with Iran going by making new demands in order for the US to rejoin the 
"nuclear deal":


Locally, I noted that data came out revealing that the Portland Police 
had used force against protestors over 6000 times just from late May to 
the end of September.


Portland Copwatch actually revealed the Bureau's original numbers (just 
from May/June) before the media got a hold of them-- I had attended a 
meeting of the Training Advisory Council where no media were present. I 
noted at the really that the 6000 uses of force included less than 3000 
strikes, impact weapons and uses of chemical agents, while the rest were 
more "low level" force called "control against resistance." Regardless, 
these are alarming numbers for police violence especially used toward 
protestors asking for police to use less violence.

Following up on last week's news about Secretary of State Pompeo's trip to 
the West Bank, along the march route we talked about how that trip went. 
Namely, the planned erasure of the idea of a Palestinian state by 
declaring that the US will label products coming out of the occupied 
territories as from "Israel" (in illegal settlements), "Gaza" or "West 
Bank" but no longer "Gaza/West Bank."


Kind of related to the bloated military spending that should instead by 
used for human needs-- including addressing the virus-- we talked about 
an article that came out about the US urging and traiing the military in 
other countries to take on policing duties. The article notes that the US 
has said it wants to stop being the "world's policeman," but is replacing 
that by militarizing police functions like drug interdiction (to the 
extent that is even a reasonable criminal policy, of course). This is 
known as "security assistance."


The readerboard sign made it to the middle of the block between 4th and 
5th on Yamhill this week (where it used to conk out until about 2 weeks 
ago) before going dark. When I was having a catch up conversation with our 
new attendee after the march ended, the sign turned itself back on about 5 
minutes after we arrived at the corner of 6th and Yamhill. Weirder and 

As we were leaving the Square for the march earlier, we noticed that the 
holiday tree was lit up, which is usually not done until a giant ceremony 
on the day after Thanksgiving. I think they were testing the lights. 
Pioneer Square's website says that the official lighting ceremony is 
canceled due to COVID, but it remains to be seen what kind of turnout 
we'll be facing next week. It's a particularly important question as this 
will be the 10 year anniversary of the FBI sting against Mohammed Mohamud, 
the Somali teenager who was given an apartment and a fake explosive 
device, and arrested on that entrapping plot at the tree lighting ceremony 
in 2010. We of course were there that day. I've marked every "black 
Friday" since with signs saying "Free Mohammed Mohamud - End FBI Stings" 
and plan to do so again this coming Friday. In the spirit of peace on 
earth, we usually get a lot of angry white folks yelling at us for 
spoiling the gathering.

I'll let you know how it goes.

--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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