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Anti-war demonstration in Portland Monday, March 19, 2007

I haven't figured out what I want to say about yesterday's events yet, so I'll just post the pictures. Maybe I'll add more later.

The "zombie" feeder march (which did not have a permit) attracted more police than protesters—at their announced kick-off time, there were 11 cops for 5 protesters, only one of whom was dressed as a zombie.

By the time they turned south from Burnside towards the gathering point for the main protest, there were
about 9 protesters and 18 police; the protesters had also collected three citations for jaywalking.

Most of the estimated 10,000 to 15,000 protesters looked something like these. There were babies and dogs, teens and grandparents.

A group of about 200 "radical" protesters dressed in black and wearing bandanas co-opted the front of the march. Before it kicked off, they did some unspeakable acts as shown in this photo, too edgy for the mainstream press.

Organizers had intended the front of the march to look something like this.

Instead, it looked like this (left).

It seems that, after the anarchists had taken over the front of the parade, the organizers and/or police intended to let them move on a block or two ahead of the main march. About four blocks into the march, the radicals realized what was going on, so they turned around to rejoin the parade. The police quickly directed the main march on a slight detour, and the radicals were stuck somewhere in the middle.

After a while of walking with the radicals in the middle of the parade, I moved up to the front to get some shots of that group. Then I noticed that a bit of a gap had opened up between the mainstream front of the parade and the anarchists. As I headed back to the group, something happened that set the group off. When I got close enough to see, the police were separating an older, long-haired man from the crowd. I don't know why. But the anarchists clearly disapproved, shouting "this is what a police state looks like!" and throwing rotten fruit from somewhere behind the front line. I can only presume that the fruit was aimed at the police; nevertheless, I took three direct hits from rotten oranges. I think they only threw four. Fortunately, rotten fruit is soft, and my gear was basically uncontaminated. As one photojournalist commented to me after the incident, that's how you know you're in the right place.

Make no mistake about it, these "radicals" or "anarchists," or whatever they want to call themselves, are looking for an opportunity to clash with the police. Most wear bandanas or masks to conceal their identity. As well as the rotten fruit that some "just happened to have on hand," some came equipped with gas masks; others wore lab goggles to protect their eyes. Some self-described 'medics' carried water and some other concoction to neutralize pepper spray or tear gas.

More interesting was the way that these 'medics' used the word as a verb, as in "Yeah, I'm going to medic this afternoon because I already got a jaywalking ticket." What they had been planning to do remained unstated ... but of course the police must have provoked it.

I left the rally as the march returned to the South Park Blocks so that I could file my pictures. Apparently, I left too soon. The people I had been following all day burned their flags. Shortly thereafter there was an incident at SW Morrison and Park where the police used pepper spray, then a group of protesters surrounded the Justice Center in a standoff that lasted well into the evening. Fifteen were arrested. Just like that, my images became (almost) worthless ...