Portland Says No to Escalation

I’m in Memphis at the National Conference for Media Reform, or you would’ve seen me on the streets in Portland (or maybe Hillsdale or Corbett) protesting this ridiculous Iraq escalation strategy Thursday evening.

I’ve read the text of the President’s remarks, and I think it’s fascinating how he is talking about “mistakes” instead of acknowledging that invasion is a failed strategy to create democracy. As a matter of fact, I think we should only refer to the invasion as “the failed invasion of Iraq.” Better do it it now… can we really afford, in terms of lives or money, to wait for six months and then talk about the “failed military escalation in Iraq?”

3,000 US soldiers dead… and counting

This week I went to the Interfaith service at the First Unitarian Church to mark the 3,000 dead US soldiers in the Iraqi occupation. The church was packed–I got there right as the service was starting and every pew was full. I wound up standing in the back with quite a few other people. The service was short and respectful, and they made sure to mention that the 3,000 deaths are only US soldiers, it does not acknowledge the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead. We lit candles and sang songs that I didn’t recognize (I asked someone about one song and she said it was an anti-Vietnam War song). There  was one news camera there, and I know that the next day someone told me they heard about it on KINK.

And there’s also the die-in scheduled for this Saturday at Pioneer Courthouse Square at noon. Don’t know much about it besides that.

Portland Passes the Resolution

Portland has passed the resolution calling for the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. Of course, I was there for the vote, but here’s a snippet from one of the victory emails:

By unanimous vote, the Portland City council adopted our resolution to bring
the troops home from Iraq and fund human needs!

A “standing room only” crowd witnessed moving testimony from more than 50 people who made the case for the resolution. Those testifying included military families, veterans and Iraqi-Americans, labor and faith group leaders, youth and students and those who work on health care, education, housing, homelessness, environmental justice and other human needs issues. The presenters made a strong case for the many local impacts of the war on the Portland community and why we need to speak up as a city for peace.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this campaign–those who signed the petition, gathered signatures, volunteered, spread the word and showed up for the hearing. This was truly a group effort and it showed!

Portland has spoken: now we have to make sure our federal officials act on behalf of our wishes to bring the troops home from Iraq and to change our policies to reflect Portland’s priorities.

So, now I have to focus on Congress. I think I only reach about 250 people or so: we signed up about 150 people in person, plus we dropped fliers in various public places, made about 100 buttons, and I know that we generated online sign-ups as well. I think it’s going to take longer than I thought to reach 1,000, which is also fine because now I’m thinking I don’t want to stop until the troops are withdrawn anyway and we have started paying reparations… this may be a while.
So, stay tuned… next stop: activating our wonderful Oregon congressional delegation to withdraw the troops and correct so much of what we’ve done wrong to the people of Iraq.

We’re Getting the Word Out

From what I can tell, we’ve managed to:

  • Send hundreds of emails to Portlanders promoting the resolution. At least ten people have told me that they’ve emailed anywhere from ten to 260 people (I think most people are closer to the ten-person mark).
  • Collect about 150 signatures in person. I’ve been turning over petition sheets to the campaign as we’ve been collecting them. I personally gathered signatures at the Portland Farmer’s Market and outside the NW Portland Trader Joe’s. People were for the most part appreciative and pleasant, with many people taking buttons to wear or fliers about the hearing. I also know people have collected names at their church, workplace, and one concert.
  • Leave fliers anywhere I go that has a bulletin board or a counter. Me and my assortment of friends have dropped around 250 fliers (the cute quarter-page ones with the portland peace dove).
  • Create a specific flier about why occupation is bad for public health (thanks, Elizabeth).
  • Mention the resolution at at least three Thanksgiving gatherings.
  • Begin sending emails to the Mayor and City Council members in support of the resolution.

Now I’m turning attention onto turnout for the hearing this week, with some more emailing, including a call for people to email their support directly to the Portland City Council.
My best estimate is that I’ve only activated about 200 Portlanders. Shoot, 800 to go. But, I’ve asked my friends for an update this week, so I’ll post an updated number when I have it. I want to keep working on this anyway, it just may take longer to reach 1,000 people than I thought.