On November 17th and February 29th the Portland Action Lab helped coordinate important days of mass direct action. Groups coordinated actions throughout the city and thousands took to the streets in empowering and strategic actions to challenge an economic system which places place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and domination over equality.
We want to offer ourselves as allies and collaborate on actions being worked on by community groups. We believe that our liberation is bound up in yours as we all operate under the same systems of oppression and privilege. We believe in mutual aid and in the interdependency of our struggles. We want to help empower communities to take action so as to create the world they want. We want to offer our skills, resources and experience to help timely and strategic actions have as huge an impact as possible. In all of this we hope to build a movement that is capable of challenging the unjust system confronting us and through this work bring into being a vision of better world.
We can provide support by offering trainings, connecting you to legal, medic and art groups, providing support for media work, helping with outreach and otherwise assisting with your action. We can collaborate on specific actions or events, but cannot make long-term campaign commitments. We will be meeting to discuss any proposals for collaboration and the level of support we can offer at our next meeting on April 25th. We want to collaborate on one action a month while we build towards our next large mobilization, which we hope you will join us in. Please provide us with information about what you are planning and we will be in touch after our meeting. Even if we cannot directly collaborate with you on your action we are happy to help publicize your action and otherwise connect you to allies in the community. Thank you,
Portland Action Lab is helping to facilitate a May Day spokes council to coordinate all of the actions that are occurring on May Day. If you are planning an action please have someone from your group come to the next spokes council meetings to coordinate our actions and find as much synergy as possible.
4/21 – 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM – First Unitarian Church (1011 Southwest 13th, enter on 12th)
4/28 – 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM – First Unitarian Church (1011 Southwest 13th, enter on 12th)
Today Portlanders joined over seventy cities across the nation to target corporations and legislators involved in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Portland’s march – which included nearly 200 yellow “ALEC Exposed” umbrellas, many colorful banners and a 50 foot anti-corporate wave – visited offices of many ALEC members, including ExxonMobil, McDonalds, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Verizon, FedEx, Taco Bell, Walgreens, Shell, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America. Responding to a national call from Occupy Portland, this is the Occupy Movement’s largest coordinated action this year, confronting ALEC corporations in the cities in which they do business throughout the nation.
“We took action today to challenge ALEC, a group made up of the world’s largest corporations, as well as many state and federal politicians. ALEC writes legislation focused on amassing more profit for the wealthiest 1% at the expense of our communities,” said Nicholas Caleb of Occupy Portland.
The final action of the day was an occupation of the law offices of Lindsay, Hart, Neil & Weigler and Paul S. Cosgrove. Cosgrove is the state corporate co-chair for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Activists with the Animal Defense League made their way to the 34th floor of the Wells Fargo Center, chaining themselves together in Cosgrove’s office. Three members of the group were arrested.
“Paul S. Cosgrove, Oregon state corporate co-chair of ALEC, facilitates the creation of laws that systematically abuse animals trapped on factory farms, caged in laboratories and surviving in the wild,” says Courtney Eastman of Animal Defense League.
While the sit-in occurred on the 34th floor, members of We are Oregon and the Portland Central American Solidarity committee rallied against Wells Fargo’s lead role in home foreclosures and prison privatization.
“Wells Fargo more than quadrupled its annual spending on lobbying since the Great Recession began. I can tell you that money isn’t going to help struggling homeowners,” said Arelys Thompson, a member of We Are Oregon, which organized the assembled marches in a phone-in flash mob to Wells Fargo’s offices.
Nationally, actions against ALEC corporate members ranged from sit-ins and pickets to street theater. Some of the more creative actions included foreclosing on Citibank in Long Island, a “Corporate Debutant Ball” in Salt Lake City, UT, teach-ins in Norman, OK, Naples, FL, and Bryant Park, NY, and an Ice Cream Bloc in Oakland, CA. Three distribution centers of Wal-Mart were shut down in southern California, as well as the World Corporate Headquarters of Pfizer in Connecticut.
Portlanders gathered at 11:30 AM at SW Naito and Ankeny and marched between stops at nonviolent actions organized by some 15 social justice, environmental, and anti-capitalist groups. Many long-standing community groups, working under the banner “Portland Action Lab,” assisted in organizing the day, including Rising Tide, the Animal Defense League, We Are Oregon, Jobs with Justice, the Portland Central American Solidarity Committee.
ALEC is comprised of state and federal government legislators and many of America’s biggest corporations. In ALEC task-forces and committees, lobbyists work directly with legislators to draft and advance cookie-cutter “model” bills. According to ALEC’s figures, nearly 10% of state laws originate from their efforts. Wisconsin Act 10, attacking public employee unions, mirrors ALEC’s anti-union agenda and was introduced by Governor Scott Walker, an ALEC member from 1993-2002. Arizona’s widely criticized anti-immigrant legislation (SB1070) also has roots in ALEC model legislation.
“The decisions affecting our communities should be made democratically, not through a corrupt system that hides the influence of the very corporations that benefit at our expense. ALEC is representative of a failed system in which profit and greed are dominant over everything else,” said Kari Koch of Portland Action Lab.
Representatives from the Portland Action Lab met recently with the Mayor’s office to discuss the actions on F29 and the police response. The principle message they brought was that nonviolent protests should be met with nonviolence. An open letter was issued about this meeting and the actions on F29.