MARCH 28, 2003 “Would you like a little pepper on your protest?” Amelia Merrick
HERO: On Friday, Portland Peaceful Response used their weekly vigil to call for a cease-fire in Iraq. Let's face it: It's unlikely at this point that Bush will cease-and-desist because a few hundred people in Pioneer Square are asking them nicely.

But, there are viable ways to pull the plug on Bush's war machine--namely, Congress can repeal its authorization to Bush for military force. U.S. Congressional Representative Peter DeFazio (Oregon's congressional rep from Eugene) has co-sponsored a resolution to do just this. House Joint Resolution 20 will take away Bush's war powers. To move forward, the resolution must be ratified by the House International Relations Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A list of members of those committees--and how to contact them--can be found at house.gov/international_relations/fullmem108.htm and foreign.senate.gov.

This is the first organized group within the U.S. Congress that is dissenting against the current war in Iraq. Voice your support!

VILLaiN: U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) for co-introducing Senate Resolution 82. The resolution expresses concerns about the current political system in Iran.

The resolution has a haunting similarity to the rationale used to invade Iraq: "Whereas the Iranian people aspire to democracy," the resolution explains, the "regime" oppresses them. It claims that Iran is expected "to be capable of producing several nuclear weapons (by 2005)." And, in the most egregious attempt to wrap the warmongering resolution in liberal rhetoric, claims that the U.S. should "seek a genuine democratic government (in Iran)" because of "the continuous repression of freedomsparticularly with regard to women."

In a press conference, Sen. Wyden explained "the goal of the resolution is to prevent the plight of the Iranian people from slipping off the world's radar screen."

In October, Bush's murky rationale for invading Iraq also included terms like "liberation" and "regime change." A resolution that embodies that same spirit should be quashed before it also becomes a legal cornerstone for war.

Senator Wyden's Portland offices are located at 700 NE Multnomah Street, Suite 450. Call him at (503) 326-7525 or (202) 224-5244.

VILLaiN: Portland Police Officer Kruger. During Wednesday's lunch hour, protesters crowded the SE corner of Pioneer Square chanting antiwar slogans ("Smoke Crack, Not Iraq," "Bombs Drop While You Shop!").

During the prior week, police patiently stood by, simply corralling protesters. On Wednesday, they began a new tactic: Arresting alleged jaywalkers, usually an offense punished with a citation, not detention.

As the crowd began to swell, one officer grabbed a pixie-ish activist who was straddling the curb, one foot in the street. Two officers pinned her arms behind her back while handcuffing her. Like a mantra, she cried out, "I'm trying to bend my arms."

Then, like Shaq palming a basketball, Officer Kruger grabbed her entire face with his paw, twisted her head and shoved her. It was a chilling moment. For several seconds, the crowd was deathly quiet, before breaking into a chorus of boos. (Kudos to Channel 12 for showing the event in its entirety.)

Note to cops: A few bad apples spoils the whole bunch. POLICE YOUR OWN!

To make complaints about police brutality, contact the Police Accountability Campaign. Email info@policeaccountabilitycampaign.org or call 287-2255.

HERO: Alan Graf and the Portland Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG). On Friday, Graf sent a letter to Mayor Vera Katz cautioning her about police misconduct. In his letter he expresses grave concerns about pepper-spray incidents and "strong arm tactics against peaceful protesters." For the past several years, Graf has led campaigns and filed lawsuits directing city hall to rein in the police.

Although the current demonstrations are not aimed at the police, this is an opportunity to address an ongoing problem. It's truly only a matter of time before real injuries occur.

To report police misconduct to the NLG, email peopleslawyer@qwest.net or call 452-2375.

VILLaiN: Mayor Katz for putting a price tag on the First Amendment. Starting last Thursday, Mayor Katz has gone out of her way to indirectly blame protesters for the additional expenses incurred by the police bureau while patrolling demonstrations.

Has anyone in city hall once mentioned that a single cruise missile costs $1 million? Or has anyone asked how much city hall has spent to woo a major league baseball team?

In her normal fashion, Katz has not condemned the protests outright--but bemoaning the costs of demonstrating is clearly a tactic for turning public sentiment against protesters. (Sidenote: The same city council that refused to pass an anti-war resolution now has penned a letter supporting U.S. troops in Iraq. Read it on page 40.)

This Thursday, Mayor Katz delivers her "State of the City" address. Last year, when faced with the nation's worst unemployment rates, Katz pledged to deliver jobs and economic revitalization to the city. Yet, over the past year, Katz has stood idly by as the city drops deeper into woe. Still leading the nation in unemployment and hunger rates, Portland now also has the shortest school year in the country. Even so, Katz remains steadfast in her estimation that the city is ship-shape. It is impossible to fix problems if you don't recognize them!

Make your voice heard at Katz' "State of the City" speech. Friday, April 4, Multnomah Athletic Club, 1849 SW Salmon, 12:15 pm, $5.

Also, contact her office to voice your opinion about the anti-war demonstrations. Her office claims that four out of five calls support the current use of police force. Call 823-4120.

HERO: Inspired by a news report he heard on NPR, Portland resident John Norris has decided to set up a relief fund for 18 Afghani men who, according to the news story, after 20 months of imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay, were released last week. Originally detained as al-Qaida operatives, the men were simply released and charges dropped. No apology. No compensation.

Norris says he is not politically active, but wants to help these men and give at least a gesture of money--some sort of compensation for their time being held wrongly as political prisoners. For more information, email johnnorris@comcast.net