For months, as U.S. soldiers combed through Iraq, flags and pro-troop banners were slung on the I-5 overpasses around town. But last week, when a banner with a different message--an anti-war message--was hung from the Steel Bridge, it seems as if the legal rules changed as well.
Two weekends ago, as the Rose Parade passed through downtown, a banner was unfurled, reading, "Weapons of Destruction, Nothing to Celebrate." The large yellow sign was referencing the Navy ships that are moored annually as part of the celebration.
Ten minutes later, Amy Harwood and Josh Cohn were approached on the bridge by two police officers. The pair maintained they had done nothing wrong, but were hauled off to the Justice Center anyway and processed for violating two city ordinances--one stating that no pedestrians may stand, sit, or lean on bridge railings, and another which reads that no person may erect a structure on public property without permission from the city.
This comes on the heels of a man in Virginia arrested for trying to voice his opinion when President Bush arrived at an airport there. After being turned away and told to stand in a "Free Speech Zone" cordoned off a few miles away, the man snuck back into a presidential appearance and held up a sign reading "No Bush." He was arrested and faces several months in prison.
In Portland, Harwood and Cohn were released after being detained for nearly eight hours with tickets for their citations, and a July 8 court date. WILLIAM HELFRICH
Just one week after the two efforts to recall Mayor Vera Katz--one from each end of the political spectrum--agreed to work in concert, they split ways. One group, the Recall Vera Katz Committee, is angry that Katz is so lax with police control. The other group, the Better Portland Alliance, is angry that Katz has let activists overrun the city's bridges during protests.
The groups had tentatively agreed to reach the same goal, even if pursued for different reasons. But after heated exchanges, with each allegedly accusing the other of being "wacko," the two groups have huffed off on different signature-gathering paths. Last weekend, the BPA gathered signatures at the Rose City Gun Show. For more information about BPA, check out recallvera.com--not to be confused with the "other" group, recallvera.org. PHIL BUSSE