It's no surprise, I suppose, that I am on Trent Luntz' email list. I've signed so many petitions, visited so many web sites and attended so many fora that my email address (firstname.lastname@example.org, by the way) was bound to reach the office of the Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Oregon by any of a multitude of routes.
(Say what you want about national Democrats, including President Obama. I'll probably agree with you. But Oregon Democrats are a different breed altogether. Much more fight to 'em.)
So that's how I heard about the planned march this evening. Trent sent email announcing that organized labor, as represented by the AFL-CIO of Portland, AFSCME, and other unions, would demonstrate in solidarity with the Occupy Portland movement.
|Hurrah for the boisterous working class!|
So, I went.
A rally in Director Park (dowtown on Yamhill) preceded the march. As with most union events I've attended, there were many speakers and they went on at length. I lost track of their number. Jobs with Justice, the US Postal Service, and many (if not each) of the unions had a spokesperson on the playbill.
|Vive le prolétariat|
The principle demands that I heard repeated were these: federal jobs legislation and increased taxes on corporations and top incomes. I thought the USPS spokesman was rather eloquent as he urged people to rally to save the postal service. (Alas, I don't recall his name.)
|Statement of fact|
This was a smaller demonstration than the big march that kicked off Occupy Portland. But my inexpert estimate is that there were just over a thousand marchers. Mostly union folks. Union support ought to lay to rest the absurd assertions by right-wing media outlets that the (now-international) demonstrations springing up everywhere are composed of mere hippies and Trustafarians.
|KATU reporter speaks with a demonstrator|
While at the rally, I noticed a bespectacled and sharply-hatted woman standing near me. She was making notes on a notepad. She saw me watching her, so I asked "Are you a reporter?" She handed me her card:
She asked me a few questions, and I suddenly felt bashful. But I hope I gave her coherent answers.
The march went from Director Park north for a few blocks, then turned west, then south on 4th, to go past the Occupy Portland camp and thence to Pioneer Square. I dropped out at Madison. That was my bus stop. But I shot video as the marchers streamed past. I raised my right fist in solidarity.
I have no idea where this movement is going. It is hard to be optimistic in times like these. But it is important to remember that this country has a long tradition of populist movements bringing about real change, real reform.
And more than that, it just feels good to be doing something.