[pjw] REPORT BACK: 1 year on-- Friday rally #53 under stay-at-home orders

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Sat Mar 27 16:31:21 EDT 2021

Hi again PJW supporters

It was one year ago today that Peace and Justice Works took over 
sponsorship of the Friday rallies for peace and justice. I checked back to 
the report-back from that first week, when two of us met up at the corner 
of Pioneer Courthouse Square to make sure this tradition would keep going, 
and have pasted in excerpts below.

At the rally last night, I noted the one year anniversary since Portland 
Peaceful Response Coalition stopped organizing due to COVID concerns. 
There were four of us at the rally, masked up and distanced, and three of 
us marched.

Once again there was a lot of support, in the forms of honking horns, 
thumbs-up, peace signs and verbal thanks. With Multnomah County back in 
the "moderate risk" category, improving weather and more daylight, we're 
seeing a lot more pedestrians and traffic.

The first two updates on international affairs centered around President 
Biden's first news conference, where he:

--said that China should not be allowed to lead the world. Well, nobody 
said the US should lead the world either, in fact no country should "lead" 
the world, and it's certainly not up to America to decide that.


I also noted that the ratcheting up of tensions with China is a 
continuation of the Trump presidency, including US military craft entering 
disputed waters, surrounding China with military bases, and leaving in 
place most of the tariff's Trump put in place.

--claimed that the US will have a hard time pulling troops out of 
Afghanistan by the May 1 deadline, but said he doesn't envision troops 
staying past the end of 2021.


It is well worth noting that the Taliban and other militant actors in 
Afghanistan are likely to increase attacks on US troops if they don't 
leave when they said they would.

Meanwhile, in other news:

--Biden is planning talks with Iraq about withdrawing more US troops, 
though I would not be surprised if these talks end with a contingent of 
250-1000 Americans staying to occupy the nation.


--43 Senators urged Biden to take a tough stance on Iran including 13 
Democrats... one of whom was Oregon's Ron Wyden. The news story I read 
leading me to the letter implied they were saying not to rejoin the Iran 
nuclear deal (which Trump pulled out of), but the text itself says the 
signers have various views on that matter.


In local news, I talked about how the US Department of Justice made a 
presentation to an advisory committee Tuesday where they expressed a 
desire for the City to explain how they plan to get back into compliance 
with the now 8-year-old Settlement Agreement about use of force. The 
Bureau representative stubbornly said the City doesn't have to present a 
plan. The DOJ threatened to ask the federal judge overseeing the case to 
wield his "hammer" to force the City to comply.


Along the march route, at the corner where we talk Israel-Palestine issues 
each week, I noted that human rights groups have petitioned Israel's high 
court to demand that Israel provide COVID vaccines to people in the 
occupied territories (as opposed to, I said, offering them to other 
countries or throwing them out, as we've reported on in the past months).


When we got to the "money for human needs, not war" area of the march, I 
gave an update that Mayor Wheeler has been unable to get four members of 
Council to agree to add $2 million to the police budget on an emergency 
basis to, essentially, re-establish the Gun Violence Reduction Team. 
However, Commissioner Mingus Mapps used the rare "four-fifths" maneuver to 
put an item on this last week's agenda to add Juneteenth as a paid holiday 
for 911 workers-- people who are represented by the Portland Police 
Association. Because that item was added to the agenda at 4 PM on a 
Tuesday, nobody from the public was allowed to sign up and testify on it.

That info all came from my and others' observations in the police 
accountability movement, so there's no link to provide. The 4/5ths agenda 
item isn't yet posted to the Council archives. I see no reason to have 
called this an "emergency," except if they were trying to test-run how to 
shut the public out of testifying on an ordinance.

I had also meant to repeat something I said on a conference call on 
Thursday, but forgot probably because I had already said it out loud. The 
shooting in Boulder makes me very nervous as it appears to have been 
committed by a Syrian American man with mental health issues, meaning 
there will likely be backlash against both communities. As with the 
victims of the racist shootings in Georgia, we need to stand in solidarity 
with those communities to ensure people don't continue guilt by 
association, bias-based attacks.

The Ann Huntwork Peace Memorial Sign lasted about 1/2 block longer this 
week than in the last few weeks, once again freezing up outside the new 
Gucci store at Pioneer Place Mall, then shutting off around the corner on 
Yamhill St.

Here's the promised excerpt from last year's first PJW-sponsored rally:

  Date: Sat, 28 Mar 2020 15:00:18
  From: Peace and Justice Works <pjw at pjw.info>
  Subject: REPORT BACK on first Friday "rally" in the stay-at-home era

  Two PJW members met up at the regular corner of Pioneer Courthouse
  Square, held signs, did not use a bullhorn, offered information in a
  literature rack attached to our "little green wagon of peace," and
  stayed six feet apart from one another and from passers-by.

  The result was a very low-key "Friday rally" which got visibility to the
  very sparse traffic, public transit and pedestrians, with several
  supportive responses (and, I think, one young man who flipped us off).
  <snip> [We] then headed out to get some exercise by walking around
  downtown with our signs.

  We thanked PPRC for starting the rallies back in November 2001 and
  holding down the corner for so long, and PJW members for being
  supportive of the modified, hanging out with our wagon six feet apart in
  the park version that we will try to maintain for as long as possible.**
  [**-- the footnote here recognized that if we kept going till Dec. 25,
  2020 that would be the 1000th Friday rally, which, you know, happened.]

  Even though we did not have any notable dialogue with folks and nobody
  took our fact sheets, it felt really spiritually important to continue
  calling for an end to the endless wars in the midst of an upside-down

So thanks to everyone who's been part of this year of unusual protests. We 
hope that those who are able and comfortable will consider joining us 
either as a one-off or on a regular basis. One of the current regulars 
expressed that he'd like to see folks who used to rally with us drive by 
and wave hello sometime...


dan handelman
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

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