[pjw] REPORT BACK: car-free zone: Friday rally #140 since stay-at-home orders

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Sat Nov 26 16:11:57 EST 2022

Hello again peaceful people

The reason there were no cars driving past our weekly Friday Rally for 
Peace and Justice last night is directly related to some of the signs we 
held calling to "Free Mohammed Mohamud: End FBI Stings." The 2010 
incident where the FBI took the Somali teenager under their wing and set 
him up for a fake bomb plot at the Square led to heightened security ever 
since-- even though there was no danger at all in the first place. You may 
recall that Mohamud's father called the FBI saying he was worried his son 
was working with potential terrorists overseas. Rather than guide him to a 
productive life, the FBI (with the assistance of the PPB, as those of us 
at Friday rally in 2010 saw) entrapped the young man and he sits in prison 
now until 2040. A man of Middle Eastern appearance came over and thanked 
us for holding the signs and being there.

The eight of us attending stood kitty-corner to the Square. This was the 
first in-person tree lighting ceremony since the pandemic hit in 2020. As 
such, I did not remember this was also the first time we had the Ann 
Huntwork Peace Memorial Sign and the wagon with us. There was no way to 
know whether the Square would overflow as it had in years past. There was 
fairly heavy rain leading up to the event and persistent but less intense 
rain while we were there; I'd say the Square was only about half full (or 
half empty you could say). Pre-COVID we used to have to elbow our way 
along the sidewalks to march one lap around the Square. Last night the 
crowds were so thin that the only people who saw the sign's scrolling 
messages on the east side of the Square were about a dozen cops standing 
on the old Federal Courthouse steps. (By the way, you may recall that 
in January 2013 we projected "Free Mohammed Mohamud" on the old 
Courthouse right above where those cops were standing last night, see:
https://portlandcopwatch.org/freeMM.jpg .)

To the extent possible we stayed masked up and distanced, certainly easier 
without the full crowd. Still there were some challenges due to the 
barricades set up for traffic. The giant dump trucks blocking off the main 
streets made it easier to cross without fear of being struck by vehicles, 
but also meant, as I hinted above, that there were absolutely zero cars 
driving by.

OK, now, on to what we talked about at the rally after I recapped the sad 
story of Mohammed Mohamud.

--The UK has decided to pour more fuel on the fire of the Russia-Ukraine 
war by sending helicopters to Ukraine.


--Iran has said they have enriched nuclear materials to 60%, which is 
still well below weapons grade of 90%, but which Israel and the US have 
used as an excuse to promise to step up military activities:


--Iran also lobbed bombs into the Kurdish area of northern Iraq this week, 
telling the UN that they had "no choice" and it was in self defense; I 
guess the US and Iran are more alike then they will ever admit.


--Speaking of cross-border bombings, the US condemned Turkey's bombs in 
northern Syria... because they are threatening the safety and efforts of 
US troops there. Once again, say it with me: Why does the US have troops 
in Syria??


--And while the US is wary of those two countries' attacks, they said 
nothing about Israel firing missiles that killed for soldiers in western 
Syria. As usual.


--Vice President Kamala Harris, who rarely makes these news roundups, 
spoke on board a Filipino ship, vowing to defend the South China Sea.
Meaning, the US continues to confront China.


---As evidence of this confrontation, the US sailed yet another warship 
through the strait of Taiwan just days before Harris' speech.


--The Red Cross says that the sanctions on Afghanistan is causing the 
majority of Afghans to struggle for survival. Diplomats that they are they 
didn't mention the billions of dollars of Afghan money the US continues to 


In local news, about 7 hours after our Friday rally ended last week, the 
Portland Police shot and killed a 30 year old Black man, Immanueal Clark 
Johnson. This is the ninth PPB shooting this year, the most since 2001. 
Clark Johnson is (as far as we know) the first Black Portlander killed by 
PPB since Andre Gladen in January 2019.


The march this time consisted only of that one lap around the Square. This 
being an unusual and partly improvised event, I wasn't able to give the 
news I had set aside on Israel/Palestine. But here it is for you:

--Israeli soldiers distributed leaflets threatening Palestinians who 
crossed their barricades and the military called it an "error" (I guess 
I wasn't really expecting them to call it a "war crime" or anything).


I did mention to the few folks who didn't take off right when the march 
ended that all of the military in the world combined produce 5.5% of the 
carbon footprint, meaning if all military were a nation they'd be fourth 
highest on the globe ahead of Russia in emissions. Why spend all this 
money on war rather than fixing the environment???


Because we came nowhere near Pioneer Place Mall, the Ann Huntwork Sign 
never turned off. We walked our usual clockwise around the Square, though, 
so only people on the inner edges of the sidewalks might have seen it. 
Even if we were facing the other way, the people inside the Square likely 
wouldn't have seen the sign as they were facing inward toward the tree. I 
tested this theory as I walked away, rounding two edges counterclockwise, 
and it was as if I were invisible. We'll come up with a better plan for 
next year.

We're still out there every week if you can and are willing to join us.

--dan handelman
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

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