Occupy Portland, 15 October 2011
It was a joint rally combined with another group's protest against the war in Afghanistan. This increased the impression of lack of focus from which the Occupier movement still suffers; while the two causes may well have a considerable overlap in supporters, they are distinct.
Nevertheless, judging by the signs displayed, most people were there for the Occupier rally; the dominant themes were inequality, jobs, and the criminality of the rapacious financial sector.
[Click on any photo for a bigger version.]
I don't know what was up with all the tents -- there were far more than you see here. Perhaps a permanent encampment is planned? Update: I got this wrong -- there has already been a permanent encampment there for over a week.
There was a good cross-section of citizenry. Few people gave me the impression of being students, hippies, unwashed, or any of the other clichés favored by MSM coverage of the movement.
The majority of the signs were home-made, and expressed a wide range of sentiments.
The march paused for a rally which featured music and speeches, both at earsplitting volume which made it difficult to talk with people. The speeches ranged from on-target to frankly incoherent ranting on the Middle East. Proponents of various causes weaved through the crowd giving out leaflets. Jarringly, the Israel-bashers were out in force.
One leaflet I was handed by a serious-looking man my own age was for a "Jobs with Justice" march next weekend; I may well go.
In an absolutely grotesque display of missing the point, there were even some Ron Paul supporters present; I can only assume they were trying to glom onto the out-of-Afghanistan element, not us. They even joined the march when it started up again. The danger of co-optation by the right has been raised already and it needs to be firmly squelched; the Occupier movement, if it is to stand for anything at all, must be explicitly anti-libertarian.
But I think most people present did get the point. There were even at least two signs supporting the AJA, and most participants were clearly there for the economic / anti-financial-sector cause.
And I've never heard so many supportive honks from passing cars. I didn't see a single one go by without enthusiastically blaring its salute.
It's still early, but my current feeling about all this is much more optimistic than my initial assessment of it. From here in Portland, at least, it looks like the start of something very big.