Thursday, March 20, 2003

Portland War Protests

After 5pm, some of my coworkers went to the windows to see if we could see anything going on. We had heard that there would be protests and that people might try to block downtown intersections. As the minutes stretched on and nothing happened, my coworkers started to announce the most minor events going on: "Look, someone's coming out of the hotel! They have a dog! A car's pulling up! Maybe they're going to put the dog in the car!" It was quite funny and reminded me of the way newscasters try to fill the airtime when there are no new developments.

At least two helicopters and one small plane were flying back and forth overhead. Someone said that the Morrison bridge had been closed, not by protests but in order to keep protesters off of it.

A guy on a very tall bicycle, maybe 10 feet off the ground, rode by. We wondered how he got on and off and what he would do if the light turned red and he suddenly had to stop. Another guy with long grey hair rode by on a bicycle, this time going the wrong way down the one way street. He was carrying some sort of long stick; I wasn't sure what it was. My coworker jokingly called it a "whale harpoon."

We saw a group of motorcycle police go by, and a few bicyclists, but that was it. A little while later we left the office and walked towards Pioneer Square. From a distance we saw that something was going on down on 2nd or 3rd avenue. There was a march of some kind. We approached to watch.

It was fairly large, the crowd seemed to number in the thousands. Some of the marchers had bandannas over their faces or other sorts of masks, but the majority were dressed normally. They played drums and moved in a fairly orderly way. The police were there to reroute traffic.

The crowd eventually stopped near the MAX tracks on 3rd. I couldn't tell whether they stopped there on purpose or had been made to stop there.
Uniformed transportation people kept the MAX trains moving through.

The whole thing seemed very casual and calm. We even noticed SWAT police standing around a few blocks away. They were talking with a passerby who stopped to ask for directions.

I left the area at about 6pm, so I can't say what happened after that, but up until that point it seemed like there were no problems.

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