News Briefs: Would Eugene Cops Pepper Spray Protesters? | Gathering Examines Occupy Eugene | Mayors Take Stand Against Tar Sands | Occupy Rocks Now Occupy City Hall | 17 Occupiers Arrested at Local Banks | MECCA Offers Alternatives to Black Friday | Biz Beat | Activist Alert | War Dead | Lighten Up | Don't Trash the Turkey
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Q&As with the arrested Occupiers
Two of the 17 were arrested in Eugene during the National Day of Action tell their stories
Families fight a gravel mine in Cottage Grove
Happening People: Ezra Tishman
Would Eugene Cops Pepper Spray Protesters?
In Seattle police doused an 84-year-old woman in the face with pepper spray. In California UC-Davis police showered a dozen passive protesters with the chemical weapon sending two to the hospital. In Portland, police in riot gear blasted a shouting woman directly in the face with the burning weapon.
As images of police violence using the chemical weapon on nonviolent Occupy protesters in other cities go viral, the question arises, could this happen in Eugene?
Maybe. On June 1st, 1997, Eugene police used dozens of canisters of pepper spray to inflict burning pain on nonviolent tree-sitters downtown. They even cut the pants away of one protester hanging in a tree to spray his genitals and anus, a state police investigation found.
No Eugene police were ever punished for the violence using a weapon the ACLU has linked to more than 100 deaths. The department did, however, somewhat change its vague official policy on the use of the chemical weapon, but the police left themselves lots of wiggle room.
The EPD policy (POM 901.3) now states that pepper spray “should not be used as a means to disperse crowds, although it may be used when reasonably necessary to defend persons or to assist in effecting an arrest.” That “assist in effecting an arrest” clause could apparently allow mass spraying passive demonstrators sitting on the ground and refusing orders to leave.
The EPD police states that pepper “spray should not be used against persons engaged only in passive resistance. For purposes of this policy, ‘passive resistance’ means non-compliance with an officer’s orders unaccompanied by any active or physical resistance. (An example of passive resistance would be a person who was limp on the ground, and who was not grasping onto an object or making other efforts to resist being taken into custody).” That “example” could apparently allow Eugene police to pepper spray the Davis demonstrators who had locked arms while sitting down, or to spray someone holding onto a tree.
What about 84-year-old women? The vague EPD policy doesn’t have any age limit. Police should “consider any information you know about a person’s pre-existing medical or physical conditions which might exacerbate the effect,” the policy states.
But the EPD policy does not explicitly prohibit using the chemical weapon on pregnant women, children, people with asthma or pacemakers or anyone else. The policy does state that chemical “spray should not be used in the vicinity of infants unless absolutely necessary.” — Alan Pittman
Gathering Examines Occupy Eugene
A community conversation about Occupy Eugene sponsored by City Club of Eugene and the Downtown Neighborhood Association is planned for 6 to 8 pm Monday, Nov. 28, at Cozmic Pizza downtown.
The gathering will begin with six brief presentations, three from Occupiers (Lauren Regan, Jamil Jonna and Silver Mogart), and three from others with knowledge and experience with related issues (Ed Whitelaw, Jean Tate and Rick Karr).
The format for the evening will be similar to a Samoan circle, according to organizers in a memo being circulated. After the initial comments, the audience will break into small groups for table talk discussion, followed by a structured conversation on stage and a reconvening of the whole group at the end. Dan Bryant will be the moderator.
No food or drink will be provided by the organizers, though both are available for purchase as Cozmic Pizza. The event will be videotaped and edited down to 60 minutes for later broadcast on KLCC.
Mayors Take Stand Against Tar Sands
Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy was one of the first of more than 100 mayors from 28 states and representing 8.5 million people who called upon the Obama administration to deny the permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline project. The pipeline “would bring very high-carbon tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf refineries,” Piercy says.
In response to pressure from communities and environmental organizations and in view of the pipeline’s possible effects on sensitive wetlands and water, President Obama decided to conduct a new environmental review of the pipeline, a decision Piercy says she supports.
Piercy was also one of 25 mayors who sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in late March expressing concern over the Keystone pipeline and asking the State Department to look at how the expansion of high-carbon tar sands imports can undermine municipal clean energy initiatives.
According to Piercy, “Tar sands have three times the greenhouse gas emissions in production as conventional oil.”
At least two tar sands related pipelines have spilled into U.S. rivers. The EPA recently released the information that the July 2010 Enbridge oil spill into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River released 300,000 more gallons of oil into the river than previously thought. More than 1.1 million gallons of tar sands oil has been recovered from the spill site, according to the EPA. This summer’s Exxon Silvertip pipeline spill into Montana’s Yellowstone River is currently estimated at 1,000 barrels.
The pipeline might be far away, but it can still affect Eugene. Piercy says, citing the letter: “For communities like ours we worry that ‘expansion of high carbon fuels such as tar sands undermines the hard work by local communities everywhere to fight climate change, reduce dependence on oil and create a clean energy future.’”
Michael O’Leary of Tar-Free Future, working on the tar sands issue in Oregon says, “10 percent of Oregon’s fuel is tar-sourced.”
Piercy says, “Mayors working together all across the country can have an influence on national decisions and help build understanding of how these federal decisions affect everyday Americans. We know the kind of future all our families want for their kids and that motivates us to join together to speak for our communities.” — Camilla Mortensen
Occupy Rocks Now Occupy City Hall
A collection of smooth beach stone paperweights with messages painted on them now occupy city offices, UO offices and so far, one attorney’s office. The messages are mostly some variation on “Occupy Rocks” and include names of city and UO officials who have cooperated with Occupy Eugene over the past month of peaceful protests and camping on city and university lands.
A message from a local activist who prefers to remain anonymous accompanied the paperweights last week, saying, “I’ve been touched and inspired to my very core at the wisdom you have each demonstrated, the great heart at the very root of smart choices. We want peace in our community, not conflict and clashes surrounding Occupy activities. Because of so many things done by each of you, our community has seen this peace.”
Recipients of the paperweights included EPD Chief Pete Kerns, Lt. Sam Kamkar, Capt. Rich Stronach, Sgt. Carolyn Mason and the Crisis Negotiation Team, Mayor Kitty Piercy, City Councilors Betty Taylor, George Brown, Alan Zelenka, Chris Prior and Andrea Ortiz, City Manager Jon Ruiz, Assistant City Manager Sarah Medary, the city Parks Department staff, the UO Department of Public Safety, attorney Lauren Regan, and Occupy Eugene activists.
The source of the Occupy Rocks says she recognizes that many others in the community have contributed to this effort. She has more rocks and more paint. “There are many more heroines and heroes out there,” she says.
Up in Portland, all of the ordinary, undecorated rocks in possession of Occupy Portland campers were confiscated by police before the Occupiers were evicted in mid-November. — Ted Taylor
17 Occupiers Arrested at Local Banks
|Protester Perry Graham sings while being arrested at Chase Bank during the Nov. 17 Occupy Eugene bank protest.|
|Eugene police handcuff an Occupy Eugene protester at Chase Bank.|
While in other cities protesters were doused with pepper spray and beaten with batons, Occupy Eugene’s civil disobedience at five downtown banks resulted in 17 nonviolent arrests.
The “Eugene Seventeen” arrested at last week’s National Day of Action Against Banks were given disorderly conduct, second-degree trespass and jaywalking, among other charges. The action, known as N17 (Nov. 17), marked the second month anniversary of the movement.
The protest started out at a quarter past noon when a crowd of around 100 rallied at the Wayne Morse Free Speech plaza for a day of nonviolent civil disobedience. The Day of Action was held in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street camp, which was taken down in New York City on Nov. 15 and has been reorganizing.
Brief announcements of what was to take place were made to the crowd at the Free Speech Plaza via megaphone and the “the people’s mic” and participants were invited to engage in a theatrical lampoon of Umpqua Bank.
“I didn’t have anything like this to express my angst or frustration when I was younger,” said Occupier Ramsey Sprague as the protesters began making their way to Umpqua Bank. “Now, I think it’s incredible for young people that do have this opportunity and even for people like me that didn’t have this.”
The banks targeted included Umpqua, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank and Chase. Bike cops whizzed around as the protesters made their way from the plaza to their first stop at Umpqua Bank and began their skit. Several protesters, cast as trees, stood in front of the bank’s glass doors and were chain-sawed down by a bearded Matthew Hawks cast as Allyn Ford, chairman of Umpqua’s Board of Directors.
Hawks said Umpqua was targeted along with the larger banks because in 2008 it accepted almost $215 million in bailout money it didn’t need. Umpqua returned its bailout funds on Feb. 17, 2010, according to Pro-Publica.
The protesters hoped to capture the collusion between the bank and logging of old-growth forests done by Roseburg Forest Products, a company owned by Ford, according to Hawks. “The timber barons are part of the 1 percent,” he said.
After the skit the protest divided into affinity groups and spread out to the five banks for the next several hours. The numbers of protesters fluctuated through the day, with numbers estimated at up to 200. Groups of protesters blocked doors to the banks by sitting down and linking arms. Bank of America and Chase Bank requested the aid of the Eugene Police Department. Umpqua, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank closed their doors for several hours until the protests ended.
Both protesters and passersby commented on the calmness of the EPD during the protest, in contrast to protests in years past where EPD used Tasers and pepper spray.
Police Chief Pete Kerns said that from EPD’s perspective the arrests weren’t handled any differently from previous protests. He said “Every time we learn there will be a protest in Eugene we try to find out who the organizations are and work together with them.” He said, “Ideally it would be lawful; in this case it wasn’t, but I think that was the intent of the protest — commit the crime of criminal trespass.” Kerns said EPD has been in touch with Occupy Eugene “constantly since before the first march.” He said the police sat down with the group before that march and Occupy was “very cooperative and helpful, and that’s the way it’s been ever since.”
Zachery Quale, one of the 17 arrested, said before he was arrested at Bank of America, he went to the Wells Fargo protest and closed his account. He said when he was arrested at the rear entrance to BofA, “the police were very gentle, kind, and courteous.”
Quale said as more arrestees were put in the paddy wagon, they began to make jokes such as “at least we are carpooling.” In response to the songs and chants that continued from inside the wagon, (“We’re not the ones that you should be arresting!”), he said police officers made jokes such as “Hey, don’t yell at me, I’m in a credit union, too!” and in response to the protesters singing of “Solidarity forever!” one officer responded: “Now! Just the altos and tenors!”
Fellow arrestee Terra Williams, who was arrested at Chase Bank, said she became involved in the bank protest because “the big banks have gotten away with illegally foreclosing on millions of families since 2008, among other crimes, but this was the big one that lit a fire under me.” She adds, “Participating in the protest was my way of saying, ‘people are waking up and we’re not going to forget this.’”
Williams said protests such as this create a dialogue, “I had no intention of being arrested that afternoon, but I’m glad I did, because it’s helped move the public discourse to focus on these injustices which has been a personal goal of mine.”
Full interviews with some of the arrestees can be found here. — Camilla Mortensen and Andrew Hitz
MECCA Offers Alternative to Black Friday
The Materials Exchange Center for Community Arts (MECCA) is doing something new this year, offering its first ever “Creation Day” event. The free family-friendly gathering is a creative alternative to Black Friday, according to organizers.
MECCA is providing “a festive opportunity to make your own holiday gifts,” from noon to 5 pm Friday, Nov. 25, at MECCA, 449 Willamette St. next to the Amtrak station. Paricipants can create stuffed animals from sweater scraps and socks, or arm warmers, scarves and mittens from sweater and T-shirt scraps.
Three gift making stations will be set up with all materials included, for projects for both kids and adults. Warm cider will be served all day.
The event is part of the Waste Free Holidays campaign in partnership with Lane County Waste Management, BRING Recycling and NextStep Recycling. See http://wkly.ws/14y for information on reducing waste during the holiday season, or call MECCA at 302-1810.
Transformation Arts is a new business in Lane County offering Shibashi Tai Chi and Quigong health and wellness classes at 10:30 am Mondays and Wednesdays at First United Methodist Church in downtown Eugene. Classes are also being held at 5:30 pm Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Healing Matrix in Cottage Grove. Michael Vasquez is the director and moved here from Ashland recently. See transformationarts.org or call 708-1163.
Local businesses and organizations collecting new and unwrapped toys for pediatric patients at Sacred Heart Medical Center include: Vectors Espresso, Video Only, Lane County Ice Rink, YMCA, Kadel’s Auto Body, Walmart, Mikilas Boot Camp, Sixth Street Grill, Rite Aid, Walgreen’s, Jerry’s, UO Athletic Academic Center, The Best Martial Arts Institute, SELCO Community Credit Union, and Lane Blood Bank. Call 222-5600 or see list and dates at http://wkly.ws/14x
The Pearl Buck Center, which provides services to people with developmental disabilities, honored local businesses and organizations Nov. 16 for their contributions to the center and to the community. Petersen Arne was named Business Partner of the Year. Lane ESD was named New Business Partner of the Year. Johnson Crushers International Inc. and Electrical Geodesics Inc. were recognized as the Established Employers of the Year. Royal Refuse Services was named Community Partner of the Year. Other awards to volunteers and businesses went to Jeanne Savage, Marta Cuboni LMT, Johanna Dumas and Karen Coulter, Keller Williams Realty, Carly Dellard, Storms Family Foundation, Molly Elliott, and others.
Track Town Honey Orange Wheat, brewed in downtown Eugene, took a gold medal at the 2011 World Beer Championship. The beer is produced by Rogue Ales, aka Track Town Ales and available at Rogue Public House, 8th and Olive in Eugene.
The Lane Economic Committee, the economic advisory panel for the Lane Council of Governments, is seeking applications for membership until Dec. 16. Find application forms at lcog.org or at LCOG offices, 859 Willamette St., or call 682-7450.
Send suggestions for Biz Beat items to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Biz Beat” in the subject line.
• Upcoming Occupy events: Midnight Madness Flash Mob, Occupy the Mall, Valley River Center, 11:45 pm Thursday, Nov. 24 (Thanksgiving,) to 9 pm Friday, Nov. 25 (Black Friday). Text @oc_actions to 23559 to sign up for flashmob text alert system/instructions and actions alerts. Then Occupy Eugene: Occupy Cozmic!, with David Rovics, “flat-picking rabble-rouser, Brass Tacks, folk rock dance band,” with Occupy Eugene speakers, from 8 to 11:30 pm Saturday, Nov. 26, at Cozmic Pizza, $0-$20 sliding scale.
• The Middle Fork Willamette Watershed Council will be meeting from 6:30 to 9:30 pm Wednesday, Nov. 30, at the Lowell Fire House on North Pioneer Street. The topic is “The Effects of Blue Green Algae on Water, People and Communities,” and speakers include Dr. Theo Dreher of OSU, Jennifer Ketterman and Casey Lyon of the Oregon Health Authority and Chuck Spies of the city of Lowell. For more information, email email@example.com or call 937-9800.
• Cascadia Wildlands’ ninth annual Wonderland Auction is coming up Dec. 10 and this is the Eugene-based regional nonprofit’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Tax-deductible donations of items or services are welcomed. See www.cascwild.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 434-1463.
• 1,828 U.S. troops killed* (1,825)
• 14,837 U.S. troops wounded in action (14,793)
• 981 U.S. contractors killed (981)
• $476.1 billion cost of war ($474.7 billion)
• $140.6 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($140.7 million)
• 4,421 U.S. troops killed (4,421)
• 31,921 U.S. troops wounded in action (31,921)
• 185 U.S. military suicides (updates NA)
• 1,554 U.S. contractors killed (1,554)
• 113,126 to 1.2 million civilians killed* (113,097)
• $803.6 billion cost of war ($803.1 billion)
• $237.3 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($237.1 million)
Through Nov. 18, 2011; sources: icasualties.org; defense.gov, U.S. Dept. of Labor
* highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate Iraqi civilian deaths as high as 655,000 (Lancet survey, 2006) to 1.2 million (Opinion Research Business survey, 2008)
by Rafael Aldave
Congress’ super-committee has been a super-flop. The proximate cause is that half its members believe that shared sacrifice means the rich and the poor should continue to pay the same for parking.
Don't Trash the Turkey
What will restaurants and local businesses do with all that extra turkey or stuffing lying around this coming weekend? Well, the city of Eugene has the answer: compost it. The city's new composting program, Love Food Not Waste, is offering a way for businesses to compost waste materials such as baked goods, dairy and meats.
"This program is a win-win for local businesses and the community," Ethan Nelson, waste prevention manager for the city of Eugene, said in a press release. "Grocers, restaurants and other food-related businesses will be able to reduce their garbage rates and do the right thing, improving the health and vitality of Eugene."
The city created this commercial composting program in conjunction with its Climate and Energy Action Plan to reduce the approximately 10,000 tons of waste that fills our landfill each year. Eugene city staff hopes that this new compost program will divert at least 3,200 tons of waste from the landfill each year.
The program, which took effect on Nov. 1, relies on the city's collaboration with commercial composters and solid waste haulers and the willingness of businesses and commercial customers to separate their compostable waste.
Commercial customers will be able to separate meat, bones, fish, dairy, baked goods, fruits and vegetables, food-soiled paper, yard debris and plant trimmings from garbage service. Then one of the waste haulers will pick up the food scraps and take them to a local organics processor to convert them into compostable material. Businesses can contact their garbage hauler to sign up for the program and the hauler will supply the business with compost bins. —Kendall Fields
SLANT includes short opinion pieces, observations and rumor-chasing notes compiled by the EW staff. Heard any good rumors lately? Contact Ted Taylor at 484-0519, editor at eugeneweekly dot com
Raised by an abusive single mom in Pittsburgh, Ezra Tishman moved to a foster home in high school, got a vocational rehabilitation scholarship to Hoefstra University on Long Island, then transferred to Godard College in Vermont. “I started a men’s group,” he notes. “My thesis was on ‘the Myth of Masculinity.’” After graduation, he spent years as a mail carrier in Vermont, Alaska and Oregon, and also worked as a farm hand, a fisherman, and an adjunct professor at the University of Vermont. “I was always writing poetry, reading like crazy, and keeping journals,” says Tishman, who moved to Eugene in 1995, after a year in Moscow, Idaho. In Idaho he started an online business, Aardvark Book Search, specializing in rare and collectible books, which has become his full-time work (find him at www.ezrabook.com). Tishman married UO English associate professor Lisa Freinkel in 2001. In 2004, the couple saw an ad for a used bookmobile. “I love putting good books in people’s hands,” says Tishman, who bought and refurbished the vehicle, known as Gertie. “We set her up in Whiteaker on the last Friday of the month.” Supporters of Gertie’s mission to provide free and low-cost books to underserved areas are invited to a benefit concert for Tishman’s nonprofit, Books to the People, at 5 pm Sunday, Dec. 4, at Cozmic Pizza, featuring Mood Area 52.