This year the Portland May Day Coalition delivered a letter to the Portland Police Commissioner Vera Katz and Chief Mark Kroeker informing them about the upcoming May Day parade.
The letter was a response to one sent out by the mayor’s office asking that the coalition obtain a permit for this year’s parade. It also asked for the organizers to share their plans with the city to avoid a repeat of the altercations between police and protestors in the May Day 2000 parade.
“Recent press statements by police suggest that they anticipate a repeat of last year’s volience. Since cops were the ones who attacked a peaceful parade last year, that amounts to a threat,” said Benjamin Dawson of the coalition in a press release. “We’re saying, police need to knock it off this year and respect free speech.”
The letter addressed concerns on police brutality and police suppression of free speech, according to the press release.
“The May Day Coalition feels a keen obligation to inform the public of our plans in order to avoid any misconceptions, to protect those who march in the parade, and to address the safety concerns of the people of Portland,” the letter stated.
The letter went on to say, “We expect you at the Police Bureau to do likewise and refrain the sort of swagger, threats and violence you perpetrated last year.”
Along with the letter, the coalition enclosed what they called the May Day 2000 facts sheet. The facts sheet includes figures on police arrests, number of people tried, numbers of injuries, the type of weapons used and relevant frequently asked questions of May Day 2000.
The coalition also ridiculed police, saying that they were not acknowledging their responsibility for controlling a riot, “where a riot didn’t exist,” as the coalition cited from an Oregonian editorial.
“Police have lied consistently. They lied on May Day, they lied afterwards, and Judge Marcus as much as said they lied in court testimony,” said Alan Rausch, a May Day participant.
The May Day Coalition is determined to put on a fun march, which will celebrate workers’ rights and the arrival of spring.
“We’re going to hold a totally peaceful event,” said Andy Davis of the coalition. “Anybody who’s going to be violent or damage property, we’re asking you not to come – and that includes you, Chief Kroeker.”
The parade is scheduled for 4 p.m. and the starting line is at 8th and West Burnside St. Several Portland State students plan to attend.