Report from Portland, Oregon

7-12 October 2002

Carol Urner
3745 SE Harrison Street
Portland, Oregon 97214, USA
Voice: 503 232 7159  Email: curner@qwest.net


Senators Wayne Morse and Mark Hatfield and the Congressional delegations purposely kept military bases and war industries out of Oregon, so Portland WILPF and twelve co-sponsoring organizations did not find any specific target for their Space for Peace week events. The week started off October 5 with a huge rally and march against War on Iraq with a head count of 10,500 participants. This rally helped convince five of our seven member delegation to vote against the Authorization of use of Military Force Against Iraq in Congress (one Senator and 4 out of 5 Representatives). That event exhausted much of the energy of WILPF and co-sponsoring organizations for Space for Peace week, but we began on Monday the 7th with a series of events.

The march on October 12 was over twice the size of the one staged last year, and all told we directly engaged some 500 people in the various events, which is about three times the number of participants in the march and our two forums last year. The number of co-sponsors also almost doubled. Turn out for the Saturday night forum was disappointing, however, and we did not have success in arranging interviews or talk shows for our speakers. Given the exhaustion of the Portland peace community after over a month of organizing for the October 5 No to War in Iraq rally, and dozens of other related anti-war on Iraq activities, we should perhaps be thankful that we engaged as many people as we did and at least laid ground work for future work on these issues with our Congressional delegation, with the media and the general public. The speakers were well received.

Monday, October 7: The first specifically Space for Peace week was a table in the free speech plaza at Cascade Community College where a WILPF member dressed as a general tried, unsuccessfully, to sell multi-million dollar cookies to finance missile defense (It will be a great day when the Pentagon has to hold a bake sale...) and another distributed Global Network and relevant WILPF materials and engaged students and faculty in lively discussion on weapons in space and missile defense.

Wednesday noon, October 9: Raging Grannies regaled folk in the Student Center at Sylvania Community College with songs on missile defense (twirling an umbrella filled with holes) and won a standing ovation. In between song offerings a WILPF member spoke on the need to stop plans for weapons in space and missile defense and return to the UN disarmament treaty process. Global network materials were distributed to students and faculty.

Wednesday evening, October 9: WILPF led a lively discussion with Radical Women and the Freedom Socialist Party on the dangers of weapons in space and the push of aerospace industries, in close co-operation with the Pentagon, for hi tech weapons development and a policy of aggressive and pre-emptive wars.

Friday evening, October 10: Global Network speakers Peter Lumsdaine and Dan Whitmore spoke before an outdoor rally of some 200 anti-war protestors drawn by a co-sponsoring peace organization (Peaceful Response). There was a strong response by the local TV and news media to press releases on Keep Space for Peace week, but there was no report back on actual coverage.

Saturday morning, October 12: Twelve co-sponsors gathered at 11 am in a federal park located between a Federal Building and City Hall for a rally and march re keeping space for peace. Holly Gwinn Graham, a local singer and Raging Grannies belted out appropriate songs, representatives of sponsoring organizations gave brief talks on the Choice is Ours theme, Peter Lumsdaine and Dan Whitmore gave foretastes of their talks for the evening forum, and then the group of almost 150 staged a peaceful and permitted walk through downtown Portland. Signs emphasized No War on Iraq as well as Space for Peace.

Saturday evening, October 12: Approximately sixty people, most of them from the sponsoring organizations, gathered at Portland State University to hear Peter Lusmdaine speak about Vandenberg Air Force base in launching of satellite guided cruise missiles and other “precision” bombs on Iraq and Afghanistan, and of non-violent resistance to Pentagon/aerospace programs to develop missile defense and space weapons. Dan Whitmore gave an overhead projector presentation to back up his thesis that Missile Defense is both a Farce and a Fraud. Co-sponsoring organizations presented their literature at tables. Global network literature was again available and copies of Weapons in Space were sold.

Below is a copy of a small flier distributed to publicize the event. Larger posters were also distributed widely to churches, NGOs and the media. Global Network posters and WILPF banners were also used at presentations and to publicize the events.

 

No war from space on Iraq !

THE CHOICE IS OURS
WAR IN SPACE… OR PEACE ON EARTH

 
SATURDAY OCTOBER 12

MARCH AND RALLY

11:00 am   Terry Schrunk Plaza
SW 4th and Madison
Music, street theater
Meet the peace makers

PUBLIC FORUM

7:00 PM  PSU Smith Ballroom
Peter Lumsdaine
: Stop Military Madness!
Coordinator of non-violent resistance at Vandenberg AFB

Don Whitmore :   Stop Billions for Star Wars!
Nuclear abolition activist, former Boeing engineer

Carol Urner:   The Choice is Ours!
WILPF national co-chair:  Disarm!  Dismantle the War Economy

Co-sponsors: Portland Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Rear Guard (PSU), Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Oregon Peace Works, Portland Peaceful Response Coalition, Peace Action Committee of First Unitarian Church, Multnomah Friends Meeting (Quakers), Radical Women, Freedom Socialist Party, Sisterspirit and Women in Black, Oregon Peace Institute




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