Occupy Portland’s “End the Camping Ban” March

by The North Star on April 9, 2012

First, a quick run-down in the “tactical” developments within Occupy.

Certainly the post-eviction period of Occupy changed the political climate towards a more radical perception of the Police as fundamentally agents against the working class in the interests of the so-called “1%”. The shutdown of the ports and a few solidarity marches with Oakland organized by the “Hella 503 Collective” – an amalgamation of anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian and just plain Occupy activists dedicated to an escalation of tactics – changed the game as far as tactics go towards more radical messaging and defense in street demos.

At previous mass marches by Occupy Portland, particularly #N17 and a Solidarity march with Tahrir Square there had been heavy accounts of Police Brutality preying on amateur or weak protesters.  So when the #F29 national call to action organized by the “Portland Action Lab” – an organizing arm of Occupy Portland – came around, the Hella 503 collective was enlisted to provide defense for the march. We built reinforced banners to prevent “snatch and grabs” and crash through police lines and well, it worked. About 30 people blocked up at the front of the March caring banners rolled through police lines and defended protesters.

Here is a picture from #F29

Here is from March 25:

Occupy for the most part took a little break after #F29. Returning to the streets on March 25 though it came ready with its own reinforced banners, militant tactics and folks blocked up chanting things the Hella 503 collective injected into the crowd at previous demos, but most intensely at the #F29 march – “The System has DIED – HELLA HELLA OCCUPY”, “A-ANTI-ANTI CAPITALISTA”, “I Declare a Class War, ORGANIZE AND LIBERATE” “We are THE WORKING CLASS”.

With only about 100 -200 folks it held its ground marching around downtown against Police calls to move to the sidewalk. The crowd of Occupiers who I’d seen only a few weeks previously so passionately protesting anarchist cooption and militant street tactics were now they themselves sympathetic, if not ardent participants. But there were those nostalgic elements of Occupy that don’t always fit in with the anarchist praxis that were successful and shouldn’t be overlooked: older folks with their kids whom coordinated the march from the sidewalk, aesthetically welcoming signs to those with bourgeois mentalities, and creative puppets or costumes which make the pigs think twice before breaking a march and 99%-1% rhetoric.

I don’t think it’s useful to argue against Occupiers. They are stubbornly liberal until we show by example, how we ought to march and act. Until they feel police oppression, they won’t become radical. Until they see firsthand the corruption of elected representatives they won’t become radical. But I suspect they are coming around and this action is testament to the positive role radicals can play in escalating tactics and ideology within the movement.

Good Job Occupy, let us be free May 1st.

Republished with permission.

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