The Portland Police Bureau has issued a preemptive warning about the long-planned nationally organized Shut Down the Corporations rally and march—essentially telling anyone who's going to be downtown on Wednesday, February 29, to expect to wait a few minutes longer at traffic lights and, also, maybe, you know, ogle as officers in riot gear come out to gently herd marchers along.
The Police Bureau's responsibility in marches is to balance the rights of all involved and maintain public order. Without public order everyone's civil liberties would be at risk. Our job is to assure the safety and convenience of all people as they use Downtown streets. No one group can disobey laws to promote their message at the expense of the rest of the community's right to unrestricted use of the streets of the downtown core. We know that families need to pick up their kids from school, business must be able to conduct business and everyone in the community must be able to make their way safely throughout the city.
The Portland Police Bureau is committed to vigorously pursuing the goal of supporting participants to express their view which is their free speech right and we also support the needs of our community to move safely and without disruption through the city.
The Portland Police Bureau will be at this march and will take all appropriate action necessary to balance the rights of all involved, ensure everyone follows all laws and will take all necessary steps to ensure that this is a safe and peaceful event for all.
In one change from some similar warnings, the bureau holds back on drizzling the missive with Occupy Portland references. The only one comes at the end of the release, in a list of "sources" (aka websites the officers read). It also offers a helpful link to the city's free-speech permit FAQ and points out a bunch of other events recently that had taken steps to get legal.
That's not going to work with this event—which will rely, in part, on a cloud of clever disruptions and sit-ins—because giving the march route to cops would kinda sorta ruin the surprise. And that would be a shame, because the target of Wednesday's protest is a worthy one: the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.
Why is ALEC so worthy? Think about the folllowing: when your late lunch winds up disrupted by riot police:
It is no coincidence that so many state legislatures have spent the last year taking the same destructive actions: making it harder for minorities and other groups that support Democrats to vote, obstructing health care reform, weakening environmental regulations and breaking the spines of public- and private-sector unions. All of these efforts are being backed — in some cases, orchestrated — by a little-known conservative organization financed by millions of corporate dollars.
The American Legislative Exchange Council was founded in 1973 by the right-wing activist Paul Weyrich; its big funders include Exxon Mobil, the Olin and Scaife families and foundations tied to Koch Industries. Many of the largest corporations are represented on its board.
ALEC has written model legislation on a host of subjects dear to corporate and conservative interests, and supporting lawmakers have introduced these bills in dozens of states. A recent study of the group’s impact in Virginia showed that more than 50 of its bills were introduced there, many practically word for word.