Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Occupy Portland, bikes, and your thoughts on the movement

Posted by on October 6th, 2011 at 10:13 am

Bikes are a common sight
at Portland protests.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Occupy Portland (a.k.a. Occupy Together) the local version of Occupy Wall Street and a national movement to protest the imbalanced influence of corporations in American politics (and a host of other social justice issues) begins today. People will gather at noon near the Saturday Market in Waterfront Park and march through downtown at 2:30.

Many people actively involved with the local movement are also people that I have photographed and profiled here on BikePortland over the years. And, as Elly Blue writes in a column today in Grist, bikes are sure to play a highly visible role in today’s event (I’ll guarantee you’ll see flag-flying tall bike riders).

Not only do bikes provide a practical way to move in a street march; but many people in this town who are activist-minded also happen to ride bikes (as evidenced by the large number of bikes at the only public anti-CRC rally and efforts to both support Mayor Sam Adams and to boot him out of office back in 2009).

One reader (and friend) wrote this via email to me this morning:

“I’m writing hoping to see coverage of the Occupy Together rally on Bike Portland. There will surely be a much higher percentage of people who use bicycles at the rally compared to the greater population. Part of Occupy Together includes making oil companies and the auto industry more accountable for the destruction that they cause, and to call them out for taking corporate welfare, paying lobbyists, etc….”

I’ll definitely be there.

If you plan to show up, do yourself a favor and read this post on the Portland Mercury blog, An open letter to Occupy Portland from a public defender (but don’t let it keep you from showing up).

I’m curious… How do you feel about the “Occupy” movement, and do you plan to be at today’s event? How do you think bike-related issues and politics play a role? Or do they at all?

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • gregg woodlawn October 6, 2011 at 10:30 am

    There has been amazing coverage everyday on Democracy Now:


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  • John Mulvey October 6, 2011 at 10:36 am

    There comes a time when thinking, sane people need to stand up and be heard. Today’s event is a must.

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  • Schrauf October 6, 2011 at 10:41 am

    The main website has been overloaded all morning, but they also have a Facebook and Twitter feed.

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  • middle of the road guy October 6, 2011 at 10:44 am

    what if they were electric vehicles powered by nuclear power?

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    • AC October 6, 2011 at 11:16 am

      Good luck parking that!

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    • was carless October 6, 2011 at 6:35 pm

      I’m totally for electric trains!

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  • Joe Kurmaskie October 6, 2011 at 10:45 am

    We’ll be there. Bikes are certainly part of the solutions to equity issues, environmental issues etc. and this is the national conversation that must take place at some point if we want a softer landing as things fall apart.

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  • Chris I October 6, 2011 at 10:57 am

    So I’m assuming that they won’t be blocking the Hawthorne Bridge bike route? I would like to get to class on time tonight.

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  • Paul Johnson October 6, 2011 at 11:07 am

    This topic sounds a lot like, “If a train leaves Portland at 10:37 going 47 MPH, and a train leaves Chicago at 7:30 going 53 MPH, what is the price of tea in China?” This is about economic inequality, not transportation inequality. Sure, they’re related, but focus. When you get a diaspora of issues without any real focus, you get the WTO protest, which I think everyone agrees accomplished nothing.

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    • are October 6, 2011 at 12:59 pm

      why do you say the WTO protest “accomplished nothing”

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      • rain bike October 6, 2011 at 1:12 pm

        Yea, a bunch of windows got broken and cash-strapped cities had to pay a lot of money to clean up the mess. Perhaps the poster meant nothing POSITIVE.

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        • are October 7, 2011 at 11:17 am

          i guess what you are saying is that the message did not penetrate the popular media

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  • Jim F October 6, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Chris O’Conner’s letter posted on the Mercury site (and linked to above) is just classic. Well done.

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  • Steve B October 6, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Transportation and social justice are inextricably linked. Occupy Portland and Occupy Wall Street provide a needed opportunity to come together, identify common goals and build power among the powerless. Hope to see you all downtown this afternoon!

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  • MossHops October 6, 2011 at 11:33 am

    So in general I agree with the basic premise of “Occupy Wall Street” that states that corporations have too much power. I also work in finance.

    I hope they become “big tent” in coming up with objectives that a multitude of people with various viewpoints can be comfortable supporting. I also hope that they organize with the intent of pushing change, rather than a vague “we are really angry” march.

    Most of us are really angry, but at the same time, just saying we’re angry doesn’t get us very far. I think the WTO protests are a perfect example of this ability to show numbers and emotion, but inability to create meaningful change.

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    • John Mulvey October 6, 2011 at 11:50 am

      I’m not too troubled by overly broad messages at this point –It’s a varied group and there’s room for different POVs. (The fact that the tea party was all over the map didn’t seem to prevent them from hijacking the political agenda, did it?)

      I do agree, though, that the amorphous goals of today need to coalesce soon around some specifics. Harold Meyerson of the WaPost has a pretty good take on this:

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      • Paul Johnson October 6, 2011 at 12:13 pm

        So, what is the tea party’s agenda? Other than a bunch of poor, white people doing everything they can to argue against their own self interest?

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        • John Mulvey October 6, 2011 at 12:30 pm

          You and I may think that, but the people running our country are convinced that there’s a groundswell of popular support for draconian spending cuts. We may think they’re crazy, but there’s no denying that they’re impacting public policy.

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    • wsbob October 7, 2011 at 12:42 am

      Are, I don’t think government cuts, that lead to lower GDP, that leads to lower profits, are in the best interest of corporations. Most everyone who is not in the tea party (including moderate Republicans, where many CEOs find themselves) disagree with their agenda.
      Another recession is bad for everyone, including corporations. I agree that the Tea Party supporters are working against their own best interest, but I think it’s because they are misguided, not puppets.
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      Those are some fair remarks about the Tea Party. Tea party never sounded to me to be much more than people that were happy to make government cuts despite the simple reality that it would be poor people taking the hit, in a dire way for those cuts.

      This ‘Occupy Together’-Occupy Wall Street-Occupy Portland-Occupy etc, etc, etc movement, has got it’s own problems though. I’ve been trying to figure out how 700 people in NYC could be arrested in association with a protest, and out of that and the Occupy Together movement in general to date, basically the only expressed reason or objective for the protest that managed to find its way to a newspaper or media headline, was basically ‘Wall Street’.

      So then tonight, I happen to read columnist Rich Lowry’s column. In the Oregonian, but his column is posted elsewhere too. Fair warning, it’s not going to be pleasant for some of you to read it.


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  • rwl1776 October 6, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Today Students For Liberty and the Atlas Network have released The Morality of Capitalism in free to download PDF form. This fall we distributed 100,000 hard copies of the book to student groups for mass distribution this fall. Those books have already had a major impact, introducing new students to the ideas of liberty and changing the dialogue on campus.

    Now students and alumni all over the world can download a free electronic copy of this important book and read the works of its authors such as Whole Food Market co-founder John Mackey, Nobel Laureate in Economics Vernon Smith, Nobel Laureate in Literature Mario Vargas Llosa, and many more.

    Use this link to download the PDF of The Morality of Capitalism: http://studentsforliberty.org/college/the-morality-of-capitalism/

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    • captainkarma October 6, 2011 at 4:45 pm

      This is propaganda and you should pay BP regular advertising rates.

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      • Mike Fish October 6, 2011 at 6:54 pm

        Seriously – this post is just spam.

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  • GlowBoy October 6, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    My commute route between SE Portland and Beaverton necessarily takes me through downtown … might be glad I’m not going through in my car today, if this thing gets big.

    Of course, this being held in the middle of a Thursday, I won’t actually be joining (don’t we usually hold big protests on Saturdays?). The timing probably works fine if you’re unemployed, though … in which case misdirected economic policies and Wall Street shenanigans probably played a role in your situation, so you have extra reason to attend.

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    • are October 6, 2011 at 1:02 pm

      is the intention here to pursue this over multiple days (as in new york) or is this just a one-off event

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      • Alan 1.0 October 6, 2011 at 1:08 pm

        occupypdx.org says “Starts the 6th, and continues every day”

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    • roger noehren October 6, 2011 at 1:16 pm

      I thought it was strange that Occupy Wall Street began on a Saturday, since all the hedge fund managers etc would be at home on their estates or out on their yachts – but that was three weeks ago.
      I think the idea here is to kick off the occupation in prime time – ie in the middle of a work day for maximum visibility and disruption of business as usual.
      Since the occupation intends to be ongoing, people who are at work Mon-Fri can check it out on the weekend…

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  • captainkarma October 6, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Glad you chose to not ignore the movement and welcome appropriate discussion on BP.

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  • redhippie October 6, 2011 at 4:56 pm
    • Gregg Woodlawn October 6, 2011 at 6:28 pm

      There were HUNDREDS of bicycles locked up where the rally started. Hundreds and hundreds. It was a lot easier to keep them there than to ride them walking speed.

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  • kiel Johnson
    kiel Johnson October 6, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    too bad this didn’t start at the beginning of the summer. the weather is going to make occupying anything outside a lot more difficult.

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    • Daniel R. Miller October 6, 2011 at 9:33 pm

      On the other hand an ongoing movement that survives, thrives and learns from the elemental challenges of winter will be a force to be reckoned with in 2012.

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  • Hart Noecker October 6, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    In an age when driving cars is literally killing the planet, riding your bike becomes a heroic act of resistance.

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  • chad b October 6, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    all around lame. actions like this are the reason this ‘cyclist’ resists Portland’s cycling community. Grow up!

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    • Hart Noecker October 6, 2011 at 11:36 pm

      Fine with us. Better to leave revolution to the youth.

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      • Alan 1.0 October 8, 2011 at 9:11 pm

        Hart Noecker
        Better to leave revolution to the youth.

        Why, thank you, good sir! May you feel as young when you reach my age!

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  • mh October 6, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    I showed up on the recommendation of a retiree I greatly respect, and was not impressed. No one wanted to take official responsibility for the protest, so no one bothered to rent or borrow a sound system, so most of us couldn’t hear much or understand anything. The usual collection of people bringing poorly lettered signs on their usual subjects were there. They probably didn’t know they were off subject because they couldn’t hear, either.



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    • cold worker October 6, 2011 at 10:52 pm

      some kind of corporate sponsorship would have likely corrected a lot of what you found wrong with the event today. oh bother.

      also, it’s not a good idea to ride your tadpole recumbent trike through mobs of people. don’t do this.

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    • captainkarma October 7, 2011 at 4:57 pm

      I was totally impressed! This is not about entertainment value or the “correct” signs, or perfect conditions.
      It is NOT lame for young people to get active in whatever the hell way it takes to stop the steamrolling slide into willfull ignorance and blatant consumerism that is ruining what was once a strong society. Sheesh!

      …and corporate sponsorship? Are there REALLY people who think that way? Maybe that was a “portland ironic” remark I didn’t catch.

      Oh, what the H.

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      • cold worker October 8, 2011 at 12:12 am

        don’t get your panties in a twist. i was being sarcastic. it seems fairly obvious but i am the one who wrote that, so…

        i think events like this are great. things need fixin’? get together and make your voice heard. this probably doesn’t happen nearly enough.

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  • Chrehn October 7, 2011 at 5:50 am

    Two Thumbs Up to the Occupy Movement.

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    • Paul Johnson October 7, 2011 at 6:11 am

      The word you’re looking for is Anonymous.

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  • Andrew October 7, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Was down there, with my bike. Seeing as we have an incredible local industry cluster of various bike-related endeavors, I see real merit in tying bicycling to the rejection of Wall Street greed, the corrupting influence of money in politics and the disconnection of our local economy from global hedge fund algorithms.

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  • wsbob October 7, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    The O has posted a couple stories this morning about the protest. People camped in Chapman and Lownsdale parks overnight, so one of the issues is whether they’ll respect the Portland Marathon’s year in advance applied for permit for use of the parks on Sunday.

    One person commenting to the O stories said there have been some good speakers, but the PA system was very hard to hear.

    Not sure of the number of people camped and gathered there. 1000? That would be a lot of people for the overall area of land those two parks are comprised of; basically, two two-hundred foot square blocks. Kind of interesting to consider some of the basic logistical realities, given that there’s just one public restroom on the northernmost park. That restroom probably is overwhelmed with use. Maybe the ‘Occupy…’ organizers rented some porta-potties.

    I suppose ‘Occupy Together’ -Wall Street-Portland, is something like a convention of sorts. Like a lot of other big cities, Portland wants convention business. Cities compete for convention business for the money conventions can bring in the way of hotel, restaurant and shopping revenue. Okay…so these people aren’t renting hotel rooms. Maybe local restaurants in the area are getting some business from the park occupiers? At least in exchange for using those businesses restroom facilities?

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    • Alan 1.0 October 8, 2011 at 9:37 pm

      I like the compromise reached between O.P. and the marathon. Accolades to Chris Hardman (marathon course director) for his public statement: “”If I didn’t have the marathon, I’d be out here myself.”

      I had an errand downtown on Friday so I strolled though Chapman Square about 1pm. Full but not jam-crowded, probably several hundred people of many ages and styles. Good, peaceful atmosphere, crowd mostly ignoring a young buck with a bullhorn espousing radical anarchist propaganda, lots of smaller groups engaged in very civil and informed discourse as well as the main “democracy circle.” I was particularly impressed with the make-shift kitchen, covered per health regs, serving up food to down-on-their-luck street folk who really needed a hot meal.

      Not sure about bathrooms. City hall is right there, of course. One of the twitter feeds mentioned someone going across the Hawthorne bridge for facilities. Porta-potties and wash stations may be necessary. The people active in O.P. are quickly organizing fund raising which might cover stuff like that.

      Some cafes might pick up a little biz from this, but overall I doubt much affect. Most O.P. participants don’t look like high roller/big spenders, and their attention if highly focused within the squares and the actions of the crowd. On the other hand, sidewalk traffic in the area looked like a normal mix so I doubt the occupation is having a bad affect, either.

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  • dude October 7, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    I can see why people are pissed off. When Obama spent the stimulus money he promised unemployment would stay under a much lower point than where it is and has been for a long time now. The money never made it to the companies struggling to stay alive. business’s are failing left and right, the administration is pushing non union companies out of the country.

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    • Hugh Johnson October 8, 2011 at 6:05 am

      Unfortunately Obama wears a golden shield. He never seems to take the blame for anything and he’s been president for almost a full term now. He’s just another elite player in the same system of elitists. So much for your hope and change.

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  • mike October 9, 2011 at 8:30 am

    This movement has NOTHING to do with bikes. It is about the inequalities in wealth and if riding a bike makes you think you are sticking it to the man, so be it.

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    • chad b October 9, 2011 at 10:27 am

      because you’re just feeding the man… besides the fact there is a tiny amount of american framebuilders/crafters, i’d say 90% of goods in the bike industry come from Taiwan/China/etc.
      Ride a bike, support foreign industry!!

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  • wsbob October 9, 2011 at 10:50 am

    The ‘Occupy’ phenomena has been able to become a media sensation. It’s provided an introduction into discussion by the public about disparities in citizen income arising from the economic system the U.S. operates on. Politicians and people in power of some form or another, have acknowledged and expounded on the sources of dissatisfaction expressed by demonstrators.

    As far as having or being able to offer any kind of coherent form for actual change in the business or political structure of the U.S., ‘Occupy’ has shown nothing on that order. Will ‘Occupy’ evolve into a political party than can actually dialogue with the public, government, and business…in substantial way? Could ‘Occupy’ mobilize sufficient strength to begin selecting, placing and directing the decisions of CEO’s in major corporations? So far, there’s no sign that it could do either of those things.

    ‘Occupy’ has been on Wall Street for 3 weeks now, apparently finally wearing out any welcome they might have had from residents and other people working in some of that neighborhood’s businesses (and not referring to people working the stock exchange or other big corporations here, but to the restaurants whose restrooms many demonstrators have been using without buying anything to help the restaurants at least cover their overhead expenses.)

    Trash on the streets, directly arising from ‘Occupy’ participants presence is apparently overwhelming NYC sanitation departments ability (or instructions…) to haul it away. Maybe ‘Occupy’ participants themselves could volunteer labor and trucks to help haul the trash while the extended demonstration is going on.

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    • Hugh Johnson October 10, 2011 at 5:30 am

      Even the Portland version has managed to squeeze out some vandalism of public property and an alleged sexual assault. The additional costs put onto the back of the “little guy” is not winning support of this movement at all.

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  • dude October 9, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Bikes don’t really have anything to do with occupy Portland. It could be true that many of the protesters protest anything and everything you can think of including cars and global warming, which has nothing to do with their original message about wall street. These are just fringe groups hoping on for the ride to speak of.
    I wonder how long all of this will last in Portland? Will the city start providing sanitation? Will the protesters organize themselves to pick up garbage and dispose it somewhere? NY is overwhelmed with that problem now as that group has been totally responsible for anything. What about the cost of extra police? Is this taking officers away from their regular beat? Toilets? I heard there was a sexual assault in the camp… How much longer is Sam Adams going to embrace this before something worse happens? This is starting to look like a political thing that the democrats are warming up to. Parties over, go home

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  • barney October 9, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Ho hum, another day, another protest. What’s this one about again? Can anyone say “protest fatigue!”

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  • mike October 9, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    And another thing. The stereotypical protester(throw backs to the hippy era) don’t really increase the validity of the message. These people come out of the wood work at the hint of a protest no matter what the message. It’s the middle class that is in danger, not the hacky sac lifestyle.

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  • roger noehren October 9, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    The lead editorial in today’s NYT essentially endorses the movement, under the title “Protesters against Wall street. It’s obvious what they want. What took so long, and where are the nation’s leaders?”
    as does Paul Krugman: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/07/opinion/krugman-confronting-the-malefactors.html?_r=1&ref=columnists
    his column was reprinted in Friday’s Oregonian under the headline: “Finally, a protest movement angry at the real villains.”

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  • Paul Tay October 10, 2011 at 6:40 am

    Hart Noecker
    In an age when driving cars is literally killing the planet, riding your bike becomes a heroic act of resistance.
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    I am really getting tired of making political statements. Can we just ride? Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. NOT a chance. NOT in a million years.

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