Eugene, OR: Police Riot in the Streets
- News for Anarchists & Activists:
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-Jamals 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 didnt
expect much trouble, Johnson said, but the police told us
they werent 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
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
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 Rennies 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 werent
going to let us stand there, and headed down Fifth to
Whiteaker to disperse. The group planned to turn right
toward Skinners Butte.
Police shouted, If they turn right, weve got them, and
Dont 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
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
peoples 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 plays 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 cant
make us so afraid of you that we cant walk down the
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 theyd be
safe. Across the street from the Free Speech Plaza a group
began playing Red Rover, a childrens 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
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
Everything we fight for, Johnson said, wont be crushed
by a little police violence. It wont be crushed by a lot of
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 whod been arrested the night
before. All but a few apparent protesters and some
observers and journalists stayed on the sidewalk as they
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 hadnt acted as they had
Saturday night, Sundays 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 falls 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 aint no
power like the power of the people, cause the power of the
people dont 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 Markets 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 well 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
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, Whos 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 Ive got to live with the
police, theyve got no right to make me feel that way on my
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The Dan Clore Necronomicon Page:
"Tho-ag in Zhi-gyu slept seven Khorlo. Zodmanas
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and Ssa in Ngovonyidj; alone Tho-og Yinsin in
night of Sun-chan and Yong-grub (Parinishpanna),
-- The Book of Dzyan.