More than 10,000 people marched through downtown Portland on Sunday afternoon, March 18, calling on political leaders to "stop the war, and bring the troops home."
March organizers said they were pleased with the turnout, but more importantly, that so many people took direct action for peace—hundreds of people gathered in the South Park Blocks to write personal letters that will be delivered to Senators Gordon Smith and Ron Wyden this week, and hundreds more signed up for nonviolent direct-action training, courtesy of Portland's Surge Protection Brigade.
"The idea was, let's not just march around and wave a sign, but do something about it," says Kelly Campbell of the American Friends Service Committee, which co-organized the march.
The message of this year's protest was also more focused than in years past, albeit with a peppering of off-topic placards like a few protesting the torture of students in Ethiopia.
Afterward, a splinter group of 50 self-proclaimed anarchists led their own march to the Multnomah County Justice Center at SW 3rd and Madison, stopping on the way at NW Park and Morrison and again near Pioneer Place Mall, to confront the police, yelling slogans including, "Whose streets? Our streets!"
At least 60 riot police from the cops' Rapid Response Team lined up outside the Justice Center, accompanied by bike cops, to face off against a group of around 800 protesters—led by the anarchists with a banner reading, "No God, No Country, No Masters." The police arrested 14 people, mainly on disorderly conduct charges, and for interfering with police officers.
"These people were not connected to the peace rally at all," says police spokesperson Catherine Kent. "It was a separate group of anarchists with a confrontational agenda."