[pjw] REPORT BACK: Friday rally #36 under stay-at-home orders

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Sat Nov 28 15:41:40 EST 2020

Hello again people who believe in peace and justice

For the past 995 weeks, the Friday Rally has been a weekly tradition. 
Starting 10 years ago, after the FBI entrapped a young Somali immigrant 
into a convoluted plot to attack the tree lighting at Pioneer Courthouse 
Square, an annual tradition has been for me to bring in signs saying "Free 
Mohamed Mohamud - End FBI Stings." At the 996th rally last night, I did so 
again, and also added a message to the Ann Huntwork Peace Memorial Sign 
reading "No Stings - Free Mohamed Mohaumud... it has been 10 years." We 
only got one response directly to the signs, a positive one from a man who 
seemed honestly curious to learn more after agreeing he could not believe 
that was 10 years ago. He also took a fact sheet, which we last updated in 


Interestingly, there were very few police officers (maybe two on each side 
of the Square) and almost zero lookie-loos wanting to get a look at the 
holiday tree lighting up for the TV broadcast (which was on a time delay 
as I understand it). I did spend some time thinking about how to say "I do 
not consent to this search" as two of the officers checked out various 
stationary objects (garbage cans, food carts) using a bomb-sniffing dog, 
but they seemed non-phased by the little green wagon of peace.

The streets were also free and clear of obstructions like barricades, 
buses and dump trucks, which have been de rigueur since the 2010 sting 
operation. I counted maybe 20 people sitting on the steps in the Square 
looking at Santa and the tree. I guess the Governor's lockdown has been 
very successful.

Anyway, the four of us at the rally (three of whom went on the march) wore 
face coverings and stayed socially distanced. I'd say there was a bit more 
foot traffic than usual-- some folks who went shopping, perhaps, and 
clearly some motorists had just bought holiday trees for their homes (or
were kidnaping them by tying them to their rooves). I guess we can give a 
bit of a break for them shopping on Buy Nothing Day -- the day after 
Thanksgiving-- since the economy's in such shambles... exceptions noted 
below in the last article link.

At the rally, I recited the story about how Mohamud's father called the 
FBI in 2010 worried that his son was becoming radicalized. Rather than 
point him to social services or social justice groups, the FBI gave 
Mohamud an apartment and used informants to build him a fake explosive and 
let him think he was going to blow up the Square during the holiday tree 
lighting. He's now in jail for up to 30 years; remember, this Somali 
immigrant was just 19 when the plot was hatched.

I talked, too, about how we knew nothing about this plot while we were at 
the Square the night it happened, but as soon as the news broke later I 
knew the City would use it as an excuse to rejoin the Joint Terrorism Task 
Force (which Portland had left in 2005). And rejoining is exactly what 
happened in early 2011. That decision was mostly reversed with last year's 
resolution to only cooperate with the JTTF when there is a "threat to 
life, including hate crimes." I noted that we're still pushing for the PPB 
to cut all ties to the JTTF and to improve the report on the Bureau's 2020 
activities due out in January. It will be particularly important to see 
whether the Portland Police followed Attorney General Barr's direction to 
JTTFs around the country to investigate Black Lives Matter organizers.


Turning to other newsworthy events, we also talked about:

--The assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist, which was most likely 
conducted by Israel to push the limits of what they can do to provoke Iran 
into a war while Trump is still in office for two more months.


Note that the BBC article says both that Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was like the 
father of the nuclear bomb in Iran AND that they abandoned their nuclear 
weapons program... in 2003, 17 years ago!

--President-elect Biden has picked an interventionist to be Secretary 
of State-- Anthony Blinken supported not only the Iraq war but also the 
disastrous US attack on Libya, and bemoaned that President Obama did not 
similarly carry out "regime change" by violence in Syria.


--A CIA officer was reportedly killed in combat in Somalia, even as the US 
is saying they are withdrawing from that country.


--Venezuela is resuming direct sales to China despite US sanctions.


and, locally

--the Auditor refusing to let the staff of the current police oversight 
system, the Independent Police Review, talk to anyone in City Hall 
about how to set up the new system that was voted in on November 3. Her 
bogus claim: That one day her office will have to audit the new system, 
and it's a conflict of interest to help create it. Since the people 
conducting intake investigations of police complaints are _not auditors_, 
her argument makes no sense.


Along the march route I noted that the fund for Palestinian Refugees just 
ran out of money for the first time, mostly because the US decided to cut 
its funding.


Toward the end of the route I echoed another marcher's observation that 
people are now sitting on long lines for food bank assistance while 
billionaires like Amazon's Jeff Bezos have collectively raked in hundreds 
of billions of dollars under the pandemic (so please shop locally!!!). I 
connected the rise in hunger to the $700 billion plus annual military 
budget, which as we say each week really should go to meet human needs.


The readerboard sign did fine on the north-side trip toward the Square 
this week but once again went blank on the south side of Pioneer Place. 
The man curious about Mohamed Mohamud was the second person to 
specifically compliment the digital sign.

So overall another relatively safe and successful rally, at rush hour on a 
Friday on what's usually the busiest shopping day of the year.

--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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