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Eugene, OR: Police Riot in the Streets

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  • Clore Daniel C
    News for Anarchists & Activists: http://www.egroups.com/group/smygo Police Riot in the Streets The OTHER Paper (this is an old story but I just now discovered
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 17, 2000
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      News for Anarchists & Activists:
      http://www.egroups.com/group/smygo

      Police Riot in the Streets

      The OTHER Paper (this is an old story but I just now
      discovered this publication)

      by Serena Rainey

      About 70 anarchists, activists, journalists, artists and
      bystanders were arrested when police turned a peaceful
      gathering into a weekend-long riot this June.

      Jail support volunteer Geneva Johnson said June 17 and 18
      were planned as “the celebratory finish (to) nine weeks of
      workshops, community building, mutual aid and protest” that
      began with a march for condemned journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal
      on Abu-Jamal’s birthday.

      The purpose of the Eugene Active Existence events, according
      to Eugene Anarchist Robin Terranova, was “creating a
      community of resistance” through discussion groups,
      lectures, trainings, events and demonstrations. “We didn’t
      expect much trouble,” Johnson said, “but the police told us
      they weren’t going to allow Chaos Days, and it started with
      heavy police presence: people arrested for littering, for
      crossing the street, incarcerated for days. Of course, then
      conflicts intensified.”

      Around 9:30 p.m. Saturday, viewers of a documentary showing
      at the University of Oregon decided to walk home together to
      protect one another from harassment by police. The audience
      spread from the sidewalk to the street as they approached
      11th Avenue.

      “We were trying to reclaim a small amount of the area we
      were intimidated out of,” Johnson said. “People have a human
      right to be in the street.”

      The group left campus in four columns, arms linked.

      “The people upstairs (on a balcony) at Rennie’s Tavern
      cheered and raised fists as we passed,” Marshall Kirkpatrick
      said. “We went down 11th, and cars wound around us, many
      honking in support.”

      When the procession reached the Downtown Mall, they began
      jogging down an alley parallel to the Mall. Some spotted
      police in riot gear running along the street adjacent to the
      alley. The jogging group ran faster, and in a moment of
      alarm someone broke the window of a downtown store.

      “We outran the police,” Kirkpatrick said, “and cut off the
      line of riot cops through the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza.
      People cut toward the jail, then realized the police weren’t
      going to let us stand there, and headed down Fifth to
      Whiteaker to disperse.” The group planned to turn right
      toward Skinner’s Butte.

      Police shouted, “If they turn right, we’ve got them,” and
      “Don’t go right.” Advice against turning toward the Butte
      spread through the crowd. They proceeded forward — into a
      line of police in riot gear.

      Video footage shows police lifting bicycles overhead to beat
      people, though police chief Jim Hill said Tuesday the
      bicycles were used only “as barricades for officers’
      safety.”

      “I saw pictures,” Observer Carol Berg later said, “of a
      woman whose ankles were lacerated badly on all sides by
      those Smith and Wesson bikes.”

      Police surrounded the group, forcing them into a recessed
      loading dock while the crowd shouted, “Let us disperse! We
      just want to go home.”

      Commanding officer Terry Fitzpatrick responded by ordering
      “Everybody on the ground.” Nobody dropped to the ground.
      Police aimed rubber-bullet guns and tear gas guns at
      people’s heads from a distance of less than 10 feet.

      Police told the documentary audience that they were all
      under arrest, and that those who came forward peacefully
      would not be physically harmed.

      At that time, a play at the nearby Lord Leebrick Theater
      ended and the play’s audience of about 150 gathered to see
      what was happening at the loading dock. Newspeople also
      began to arrive at the scene. When the crowd from the Lord
      Leebrick Theater started chanting, “Let them go,” police
      pushed all media representatives across the street to the
      jail. A camerawoman videotaping from behind the police line
      was arrested and her camera was taken. A cameraman who
      remained in the loading dock area after the rest of the
      media were forced out was also arrested; his camera
      continued recording in the police car.

      The police announced their intent to arrest everyone
      present, one by one. People linked arms. Police hit them on
      the wrists and elbows with batons and flashlights to force
      their arms apart, according to witnesses, who also recall
      police saying, “Hurt that one next.”

      The documentary group, the Lord Leebrick audience, passersby
      and journalists were hit in the head with police batons,
      knocked down and pepper sprayed.

      Fitzpatrick twice said, “Less than lethal weapons ready,”
      then, “Fire into crowd,” but nothing was fired at that time,
      according to witnesses.

      When the 47 people who had walked from campus were arrested,
      “the cops got in a huddle and raised their batons over their
      heads in a victory signal,” Kirkpatrick said.

      “The media was locked out, but people heard about it,”
      Johnson said, and Sunday “what was meant as a small puppet
      show was a gathering of hundreds. There was a good puppet
      show, speeches were good, Food Not Bombs fed everyone. It
      was a good time, but some people were angry about the
      arrests and decided to walk to the jail to say, ‘you can’t
      make us so afraid of you that we can’t walk down the
      street.’”

      Police blocked off the streets, corralling the pedestrians
      into a small area, then ordered them to disperse.

      “Nobody knew where to go,” Johnson said. “A few people got
      the idea to go to the Free Speech plaza, thinking they’d be
      safe.” Across the street from the Free Speech Plaza a group
      began playing Red Rover, a children’s game. During the game,
      a player said, “Red Rover, Red Rover, let the fascists come
      over.” Police in riot gear came over, spraying rubber
      bullets and hitting Red Rover participants over the head
      with batons.

      Around 10 p.m. Sunday, police had chased some of the Red
      Rover and Free Speech groups back to Washington-Jefferson
      Park, the site of the puppet show. Hoping to avoid being
      corralled again, and because many live in Whiteaker and
      wanted to go home, hundreds of people streamed from the park
      into the East Blair section of the Whiteaker neighborhood.

      Countless Whiteaker residents took members of the fleeing
      crowd into their homes to help them escape the police.

      “Whiteaker residents had had it with police violence,”
      Johnson said. “They were willing to protect the activist
      community, protect them because they like them.”

      Though heavy police presence in Whiteaker continued into the
      following days, Johnson said, “the incredible community
      outreach and support continues to this point: the spirit of
      anger and resistance, Food Not Bombs, jail support and other
      outreach has not died down. Every time the police try to
      intimidate us, we fight back, stronger than ever.”

      In this light, the Nine weeks of Revolt could be called a
      success.

      “Everything we fight for,” Johnson said, “won’t be crushed
      by a little police violence. It won’t be crushed by a lot of
      police violence.”

      Police Attack Peaceful Assembly

      by Martin Champion

      At first it seemed that everything might be O.K. The
      anarchists, observers and media had left
      Washington-Jefferson Park to walk three blocks to the jail
      to show they cared about those who’d been arrested the night
      before. All but a few apparent protesters — and some
      observers and journalists — stayed on the sidewalk as they
      walked.

      The police arrived to block off the street. Some in the
      crowd said they saw more police coming. Several loud voices
      warned that police were trying to trap protesters as they
      had the night before. Several loud voices urged the crowd to
      move to avoid being trapped. So the crowd took the only
      direction open: south, toward the downtown mall.

      They went to the jail because their friends were there and
      left the jail because they feared their friends’ fate.
      Apparently, then, if the police hadn’t acted as they had
      Saturday night, Sunday’s gathering would have stayed in the
      park, and everyone might have gone home safely.

      On the night of June 17th, many Eugeneans went to room 180
      in the Prince Lucien Campbell building on the UofO campus to
      watch a video about last fall’s WTO protest in Seattle. On
      the way there, movie-goers noticed a lot of police in the
      area. After the movie, many attendees decided to walk home
      toward Whiteaker, through downtown, together. According to
      some who were there, they stayed together out of fear that
      they would be more vulnerable to police hassling if they
      walked in smaller groups.

      More than 100 police, including state troopers in riot gear
      and Eugene and Springfield police, quickly descended on the
      movie-goers as they walked and chanted, “there ain’t no
      power like the power of the people, ‘cause the power of the
      people don’t stop!” and other slogans. Eventually, the
      police used themselves as a visual barricade, preventing
      observers and most journalists present from witnessing the
      arrests. City Manager Jim Johnson, according to one
      eyewitness, was present, accompanied by an unknown, “very
      large man in a cowboy hat,” and appeared to be in charge.

      Despite the barricade, people with video cameras managed to
      record some officers apparently using bicycles to hit
      people. One man was badly hurt when officers roughly pushed
      him onto his knees. He claims not to have received the
      medical attention he requested in jail. His release was
      delayed as authorities apparently considered but decided
      against charging him with assault, despite video evidence
      that might have refuted that charge.

      On Sunday, the protesters went from the jail to the Downtown
      Mall. Police and protesters blocked Olive Street. Many
      voices urged people to go different directions as a voice
      coming from a police car declared that the assembly was
      unlawful, and more police closed in. Eventually, Human
      Rights staff person, Greg Rikhoff, persuaded the crowd to go
      to the free speech plaza at 8th and Oak. The crowd decided
      to stay on the park block where Saturday Market’s food court
      normally is because if offered more avenues of escape. After
      a few minutes, everyone except a TV news crew had left the
      street. One witness heard City Councilor and official
      observer, David Kelly, say, “I think we’ll be safe here.”

      After police blocked the street, some protesters returned to
      the street to play red rover. Police Chief Jim Hill, who did
      not appear to be present, later claimed that the police
      loudspeaker told people to get out of the street, but what
      it said was, “this is an unlawful assembly”. This was just
      days after the city council passed a resolution affirming
      our right to peaceably assemble. At no point did this
      reporter see any protester do anything violent or
      destructive. Few did anything illegal except jaywalking.

      A line of state troopers began pushing the crowd, arresting
      some. Observers described police pushing people hard into
      the sidewalk, and pepper-spraying people who were not
      resisting arrest. Occasionally, as the troopers herded the
      crowd north to 5th street, then west through
      Washington-Jefferson Park, the troopers would charge forward
      with batons raised to grab or push or tackle some in the
      fleeing crowd.

      Once the police reached the Whiteaker neighborhood, the
      original crowd seemed mostly to have disappeared, but more
      people arrived, mostly people in the neighborhood curious
      about what so many police were doing on their street. Many
      expressed anger at the police presence, and exuberantly
      chanted, “Who’s street? Our street!” when the police
      withdrew to 5th and Jefferson. Although people ran or hid
      when the police charged, more and more people came out to
      observe or to show their anger at the police for
      intimidating them so close to home. As one woman said at a
      recent public forum, “While I’ve got to live with the
      police, they’ve got no right to make me feel that way on my
      street.”

      --
      ---------------------------------------------------
      Dan Clore

      The Website of Lord Weÿrdgliffe:
      http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/9879/index.html
      The Dan Clore Necronomicon Page:
      http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/9879/necpage.htm

      "Tho-ag in Zhi-gyu slept seven Khorlo. Zodmanas
      zhiba. All Nyug bosom. Konch-hog not; Thyan-Kam
      not; Lha-Chohan not; Tenbrel Chugnyi not;
      Dharmakaya ceased; Tgenchang not become; Barnang
      and Ssa in Ngovonyidj; alone Tho-og Yinsin in
      night of Sun-chan and Yong-grub (Parinishpanna),
      &c., &c.,"
      -- The Book of Dzyan.
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