"Freedom of expression is an empty concept if the people engaged in these kinds of gatherings are effectively hidden from view," the letter states. They go on to list a bevy of complaints. Pushing the protest into a swampy field effectively cut out any disabled person who may have wanted to express his views, point out the 60 activists and organizations that signed the letter.
The mayor's office has yet to respond to the letter, but has already sent bills totaling over $110,000 to the Bush/Cheney campaign to recapture some of the money the city has spent on law enforcement at their events. PB
HELLO, ANYONE THERE? The Pentagon spends an estimated $2 billion annually on military recruitment. And every year, thousands of enlisted men and women try to get out of their "toughest job you'll ever love" duties. Many, says John Grueschow, a long-time volunteer with Portland's War Resistance League, are teenagers who were misled by recruiters.
Last year alone, over 23,000 GIs contacted the GI Rights Hotline, a privately operated national outreach service that provides legal aid to soldiers and reservists. The hotline was started before WWII by a network of U.S. peace organizations.
Since military deployment in Afghanistan, the hotline has heated up. Volunteers began receiving more than a thousand callers every month; since the beginning of the Iraq war that number has nearly doubled.
Yet, aside from grassroots attempts by volunteers like Grueschow, peace-loving Portland hasn't done much to help GIs get out of their duties. Grueschow is trying to set up a formal Northwest branch of the GI Rights Hotline.
A training session for lawyers, law students, and activists will be held this Saturday at Lewis and Clark Law School, 10015 SW Terwilliger Blvd, 9 am to 1 pm. For more information, contact Grueschow at 238-0605. ERIN ERGENBRIGHT