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War Protest V Monday, March 17, 2008

Last Saturday, about 4000 people marched through downtown Portland to mark the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The event was organized by the Portland Peace Coalition.

This is the third time I've photographed this rally in Portland. Two years ago, about 12,000 people rallied on the waterfront. It was a pretty peaceful, family-style gathering.

Last year, a similar number turned out, including a large contingent of anarchists, and there were a number of incidents resulting in arrests, the use of pepper spray and tear gas, and a standoff with police at the Justice Center.

This year, perhaps because of the rain, the event was much smaller. It was also more peaceful—no arrests that I'm aware of. On my way home from the rally, I saw a contingent of about 20 police officers in full riot gear just hanging around a couple blocks away from the rally, waiting for a call.

As you can see/hear in the slide show, the tail end of the march evolved into a moving dance party featuring the March Fourth Marching Band. (I don't know if Black Rock City has a high school marching band, but if they do they probably sound like M4.) They always put on a good show. During this year's protest march, it included an impromptu version of Edwin Starr's "War (what is it good for)" ... very cool.