PPRC Peace Rally and March

Event: PPRC Rally and March for Peace
Date: Monday, March 24th, 2003
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Place: Pioneer Courthouse Square

The Portland Peaceful Response Coalition will hold a peace rally and march starting at Pioneer Courthouse Square on Monday, March 24th, at 5:00 p.m.. “This will be a peaceful and legal peace rally and march,” said Will Seaman, a PPRC volunteer. “We are planning a safe, open and peaceful gathering which will confront the horrors of this criminal war, a rally and march that will confront the terror that our government is inflicting upon the people of Iraq, and we intend this action not to become a confrontation with the police.” Legal observers have been contacted to participate and to document conduct at the event. Organizers said the Monday rally and march would adopt the format of the PPRC Friday rallies that have been held every week at Pioneer Courthouse Square since late-October 2001.

"We all recognize the legitimacy and we respect the urgent call for many other forms of dissent from Bush’s war of terror, including the courageous acts of non-violent civil disobedience that we have seen carried out here in Portland, in San Francisco, and in many other cities here in the US and around the world," said Mikel Clayhold, another PPRC volunteer. "But Monday’s rally is intended for all people, for families and for the many diverse communities who are against this war but for very good reasons need to be assured that the action will be safe and legal."

"We are horrified by the conduct of this war and we grieve for the hundreds who have been injured and for the unknown numbers who’ve been killed," said Chris Roehm, another PPRC volunteer. "We are inspired by the massive peace rallies and marches that have taken place in Manhattan and Chicago, in London and Madrid, and we know that we must keep up the pressure to stop this war." Local organizers cited reports from hospitals in Baghdad documenting injuries to civilians caused by US cruise missile attacks. "This tiny girl, five-year-old Doha Suheil, has shrapnel in her legs and spine, blasted into her by a cruise missile that came down near her home in the Baghdad suburb of Radwaniyeh," said Seaman. "We must cry out against these crimes of the Bush Administration, and we must make our protests so loud that they can be heard around the world."

Organizers stressed that a large part of the responsibility for avoiding conflict rests with the behavior of the police assigned to the event. "We will be doing everything we can keep this event peaceful, legal and safe," said Seaman, "but we are very concerned with the escalation of the use of force by police, an escalation that includes arrests without warnings and very rough treatment of peace marchers engaged in actions that would otherwise have resulted in warnings or citations." Local organizers were particularly appalled by statements by City Councilmen Jim Francesconi and Dan Saltzman calling for more actions by police against protestors.1 "These kinds of statements encourage police violence against peaceful protestors," said Seaman. "Our intentions for Monday evening’s event are clear, to have a peaceful and safe rally and march like the over seventy PPRC Friday rallies and marches that we’ve organized in the past fifteen months, and we hope that the police will conduct themselves in a way that reduces rather than contributes to tensions."

Organizers said that they hope the Monday rally and march will provide all local anti-war activists with the opportunity to meet and discuss events and actions that are being planned for the coming week and beyond. "There will be many other kinds of actions against the war in the next few days," said Seaman, "and our hope is that the Monday rally will be both a powerful protest against the war, but will also be a setting in which people will meet, renew ties and build alliances for the challenges that lay ahead for the peace movement."

The Monday, 5:00 p.m. rally will include speakers from the alliance of organizations that have organized several of the large-scale peace marches in the past six months. After speakers, the marchers will make their way through downtown streets to Chapman Square, across from the Justice Center, at S.W. 3rd and Main Streets. There will be additional speakers at Chapman Square and then the marchers will return to Pioneer Courthouse Square. The PPRC plans to apply for a permit for the march in order to allow marchers to use the streets.

1. “Protests Test Police, Crowds – OFFICERS: The mayor offers praise, but others call the response too soft”, Oregonian, Saturday, March 22, 2003, pp. C1, C3.

 



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