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Tuesday, March 23, 2004
What a lovely day for a protest
The war's first b-day was on Saturday and fifty-billion local activist organizations decided to celebrate with a big ol' protest. While the rest of Portland was enjoying unseasonably warm weather with pic-a-nic baskets and suntan lotion, around 9,000 demonstrators rolled into downtown.
While the numbers pale in comparison to the number of attendees at last year's rallies, it was easily the largest protest the city has seen in almost a year. As in the past, I didn't participate, opting instead to stand on the sidelines and listen to the condescending wisecracks of passers-by.
Many of the protesters were in costumes and the march mostly resembled a politically-themed Mardi Gras (sans boobs). One guy dressed up like Captain America, others donned homemade Dick Cheney masks. The Radical Cheerleaders waived their pom-poms while Portland's finest glumly stood around in their Robocop fatigues despite racking up thousands in EZ overtime pay.
Oddly enough, I saw nary a Johnny Kerry sign but plenty for Dennis "What me worry?" Kucinich. There was even a kiosk for the perpetually optimistic candidate on Broadway.
These blue signs only further fueled the scorn of shoppers scowling down from the Pioneer Place sky bridge. While I was up there, two skater kids laughed at all the "stupid hippies" and tossed out retorts to the signs below. A man whose wrap-around goatee screamed "I'm still living vicariously through my days as a third-string Lincoln High running back" embarrassed his wife by making joint-smoking gestures. The crowd fired back with waves and single finger salute. He later argued with a photographer who looked and sounded like Tommy Chong. The winner of this shopping center debate? Tommy, of course.
While their friends starred nervously at their Nordstrom bags, he pleaded with them to go down on 4th with him to launch a direct verbal assault. They didn't budge. At one point, the man stormed off only to return thiry seconds later.
While I was walking down 2nd Avenue after the protest, two teenage girls got into an "altercation" with two gentlemen well into their 30s. Both sides shouted at each other for a few minutes and threats were exchanged. The kids finally stormed off and the men patted themselves on the back. One girl, nearly in tears, got the last word.
"It's guys like YOU that get elected president."
That they do, that they do.
The protestors enjoyed a day of sun and grass roots fun. Everyone else got to make snide remarks. The officers in attendence can look forward to a fat paycheck later this week. A good time was had by all.