Update 4:20pm: The protest is done for the day! From Wells Fargo, the group marched to the Waterfront and then an organizer told everyone over the megaphone that it was time to wrap things up and head home. That's a surprise—we're used to having Occupy protests go on and on, until all the tents are destroyed. Anti-ALEC protests also took to the streets in New York City, Albany, Tuscon, Salt Lake City and apparently about 70 other cities.
Over and out, except for this photo of clowns pretending to be mounted patrol cops:
Update 3:48pm: There was a brief standoff between protester and riot police at SW 5th and Columbia, but the crowd seems to have now moved on.
Update 3:20pm: More hijinks! We just got word that three animal rights activists have chained themselves together with a motorcycle lock in the office of Paul Cosgrove, a corporate lawyer who serves as the state corporate co-chair of ALEC. Cosgrove's office is on the 34th floor of the Wells Fargo tower, where the protest has just arrived.
... and according to the Portland Police twitter feed, as of 3:30, the three locked-together protesters are now in custody.
Update 3pm: Hijinks! As the protest gathered around the building for Oregon's top healthcare contractor, Regence, a middle-aged man wearing a suit and red tie walked out of the building and declared he was Joseph Hill, the PR Director of Regence. The crowd booed, but the suit-wearing man announced that the healthcare group was resigning from ALEC because they're sick of funding anti-democratic activities. Cue round of applause and media swarm!
However, this is likely a prank (and a pretty good one). EDIT: Yep! Hoax! Pretty hilarious. Though Regence is not a member of ALEC, their parent company, Blue Cross Blue Shield, is involved in the organization.
Reporter Alex Z also has this dispatch from the McDonalds the protest swarmed a bit ago:
"Look up!" Shouts a woman on the megaphone, as a huge anti-ALEC poster drops from the parking garage above the fast food joint on SW 6th Avenue. The march slows to a halt and swarms around McDonald's facade. Food Not Bombs sets up shop out front, handing out "healthy alternatives" to the "carcinogen-filled, evil" wares inside. After the food is devoured, the protesters want more. The doors to the resturant are held open, ushering in a group of thirty or so ralliers. One prepared particiapnt serenades the small audience of Mickey D's staff and patrons with an anti-ALEC and McDonald's ballad, full of fuck you's. Beautiful.
Update 2:30pm— B Media Collective just tweeted that the protest is now occupying the Oregonian "to tell more truth." People are chanting, "Thank God for the Internet!"
Update 2:18pm— The protest march looped through downtown, chanting and hollering outside the offices of Verizon and Bank of America and heading around Lownsdale and Chapman Squares, the former home of the Occupy camp. There appear to have been two arrests so far. Mayor Adam's Public Safety Director Clay Neal says the arrests were for property damage outside Verizon (maybe caused by standing on top of a van?). Meanwhile, the livestream of the protest is up and running.
As noted in last week's issue, this is a nationwide Occupy protest that began here in Portland and has spread to other cities leading up to the big day. It's taking aim at a corporate interest group known as ALEC.
At 11:30 today, the protest began with a rally on the waterfront, with bands performing and a group of raging grannies singing protest tunes.
The real action began at 1pm, when about 300 people began marching up SW Ash, their chants mixing with the frigid, pouring rain. In anticipation of the wintry mix, protest organizers printed dozens of bright yellow Occupy umbrellas.
Police are following the march, though there have not yet been any confrontations. The protest is now heading through downtown toward the Verizon building. Updates as we have them! Follow live on Twitter @theriaultpdx and @alex_zee.
A protester was handing out these nifty foldy-comics along the route explaining the event. It's a pretty neat use of comics, I think:
Until you open the comic all the way and this is in the middle. Steve Humphrey compared the handout to a Dr. Bronner's bottle, saying, "It's like you're daring me to try to read it."