Anti-big bridge activists who tried to bring protest signs into last Friday's major Columbia River Crossing showdown received a shock at the door: a hired ABM Security guard turned away all people holding signs.

"Isn't this a public meeting?" organizer Shannon Palermo asked the bouncer. "Public meeting, private property," replied the guard, refusing to allow in anyone who held even a small sign. In a harsh post titled "Manipulating Citizen Input and Free Speech at the CRC Meeting", Portland Planning Commissioner and transit activist Chris Smith wrote that he saw three people removed from the meeting for displaying placards.

CRC Protest Signs: unsafe at any size.
  • CRC Protest Signs: unsafe at any size.

Today the Port of Portland got back to us on their policy for displaying signs during meetings: they don't have one. According to Port of Portland media relations manager, Martha Richmond, the Port has no policy on allowing or disallowing signs in public meetings.

On Friday, says Richmond, the Port directed security to "limit the number of signs" in the meeting, focusing on not allowing larger signs. "We wanted the meeting to go as [the CRC sponsors] wanted it in terms of decorum and safety," says Richmond. "We were afraid of the safety hazard of large signs in a crowded space. The security's actions may have gone beyond what we intended."