PPRC Marchers Call on Community to Condemn Attack on Friday Rally,
Reaffirms Commitment to Peaceful Response to Belligerents
Event: PPRC Rally and March for Peace
Date: Friday, August 8th, 2003
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Place: Pioneer Courthouse Square
The Portland Peaceful Response Coalition Friday 5:00 p.m. rally at
Courthouse Square is calling for a community response against the
attack that occurred at the August 1st peace rally and march. "The
Friday rallies have been the target of aggressive and belligerent
harassment, and last week’s rally ended in a very serious assault on
marchers by several young men," said Will Seaman, a regular participant
the Friday peace rallies. "Fortunately none of the injuries were
life-threatening and the two primary culprits were quickly apprehended
the police, but the assault included the use of chokehold that might
seriously injured one of our marchers." Seaman said they are calling
community to condemn the attack on the weekly peaceful gathering, and
come out to show their solidarity with the marchers. The weekly peace
at Pioneer Courthouse Square has been held for over nineteen months,
starting in November 2001.
PPRC spokespersons said that this week’s gathering would emphasize the
’s commitment to the weekly peace rally and march at Pioneer Courthouse
Square and would include discussion and training in ways to respond to
confrontations with persons trying to intimidate the marchers. "We
been and will continue to be committed to peaceful opposition to our
’s criminal wars and violent foreign policy, and we will make every
to meet this kind of belligerent and violent harassment with
steadfast non-violence," said Seaman. "We are happy to engage in
mutually respectful dialogue with those who disagree with us, but we
not be intimidated by the kind of thuggery we witnessed last Friday."
PPRC spokespersons expressed concern with the degree
of organization reflected in last week’s harassment
of the marchers. When the marchers returned to the Square
last Friday, they were met with a line of between six
and eight young men blocking their entry through the
Southwest corner of the square. Many marchers went around
the blockade of this public thoroughfare, and several
marchers engaged with the young men who continued to
shout abuse. "We’ve never had to deal with a mob like
this trying to block our way through a public space,"
said Seaman. "And when the result is violent assault
on our marchers, we have to raise the question of whether
this incident might involve more than the usual elements
of hot weather, alcohol and an excess of youthful machismo."
One eyewitness account of the incident is appended
Eye Witness Account :
"There was a pretty significant attack on the PPRC
peace rally and march participants Friday at Pioneer
Courthouse Square. There were minor injuries (lacerations,
bruises, a previous injury was opened up and bleeding
pretty badly), but none serious (as far as I could tell)".1
"As we experienced last week (from a different heckler),
a single person started aggressively harassing our rally
as soon as we started. Several very courageous people
tried to isolate him from our group, but he pushed into
our circle and was yelling insults and obscenities at
us. After a few minutes, we moved out on our march.
(The person who was harassing us last week was identified
as being present among the crowd that was standing close
by, the crowd that this week's 'counter-protestor' was
a part of.) "When we returned to the square, about eight
or nine young men were standing side-by-side blocking
the usual path that we take back into the square, the
Southwest corner (Yamhill & Broadway). The drum corps
and most of our group went around them to the right,
avoiding this rather belligerent, but ultimately ineffective
'Maginot Line'. Some peace marchers confronted them
however, and exchanged heated words. At some point shortly
thereafter, the true assault began."
"Where I was standing, I could see that a shirtless man (wearing a camouflage
hat) had one of our people in a headlock, what looked
like a chokehold, and it appeared to me that he was
straining with every fiber of his strength to choke
our friend. Several people were trying to pull the shirtless
man off, to stop him from choking our friend, but they
were failing, and it looked to me that our friend was
indeed in very serious distress and could not breath.
He was grimacing and it looked like he was in pain.
Eventually, one of the peace marchers leapt onto the
back of the shirtless man, and that seemed to break
up the chokehold. At this point, I called 911, because
there was not a single policeman anywhere to be seen."
"Eventually, several police officers showed up. Statements were taken from
witnesses, and we have been told that the shirtless
man and the original instigator were cited and barred
from the Square for two weeks."
"Fortunately, there was a man video taping the incident, and we have
very good witnesses. However, this incident, in conjunction with the
harassment from last week, suggests that there is rather more planning
involved in this assault than the usual sort of harassment that we've
1. It was later discovered that one of the marchers had suffered what
appeared to be a knife wound.
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