DAY MADNESS: JAILING JAYWALKERS
When the local May Day march degenerated into a running
street battle, the blame immediately fell on the protesters.
Law enforcement officials, local politicians and the news
media accused the marchers of not having a parade permit,
as though that justified the small army of riot gear-equipped
police officers who used pepper spray, steel pellet-filled
"bean bag" shot gun rounds and billy clubs to
push them around town.
very evening, a story on the Oregonian's website
reported that the police were "disturbed that the marchers
were disrupting traffic and had not obtained a parade permit."
The article went on to cite Lt. Dorothy Elmore of Central
Precinct as saying that although the marchers had a permit
to organize at Dawson Park in East Portland, they "violated
that permit when they marched to the South Park blocks downtown."
It noted that Detective Sgt. Mike Hefley, the official police
spokesman, said the marchers had a permit for the South
Park Blocks, "but no parade permit."
State Senator Avel Gordly picked up on this theme, telling
the Oregonian, "if they don't have a permit
to march, then they should." And the issue was a major
topic on KXL radio the next morning, with talk show host
Lars Larson repeatedly citing the lack of a parade permit
as justification for the police actions.
grandmother went to jail for 45 days for refusing to move
from a sidewalk while picketing outside the home of an animal
many Portlanders were undoubtedly puzzled how the lack of
a permit could justify the heavy-handed police tactics they
saw on the TV news that night and the following days. Indeed,
by May 9th when Mayor Vera Katz and the Police Chief Mark
Kroeker appeared before a crowd of 700 angry citizens at
a community forum on the incident at the Maranatha Church,
no one was talking about the permit issue anymore.
fact, the Portland police routinely use such minor infractions
to arrest protesters and disrupt their eventsand so
do other police agencies across the country. In the past
few months, demonstrators have been arrested for dropping
a flower in a public park and stepping off a curb and crossing
the street without a walk signal. Each time, the police
say the person they arrested was "breaking the law."
These demonstrators are hauled down to the Justice Center,
where they are booked. But the charges are almost always
dropped or reduced to a violation, the equivalent of a parking
Vellucch, founder of the Activist Civil Liberties Committee
in Sacramento, says he knows of similar incidents across
the country. In one case, a grandmother went to jail for
45 days for refusing to move from a sidewalk while picketing
outside the home of an animal researcher. The charge was
criminal trespass. Vellucch himself was charged with conspiracy
to commit criminal trespass for not using a cross walk.
Although jaywalking is a mere violation, conspiracy is a
felony. The charge was dropped a year later.
also use such tactics to harass and intimidate political
activists. One of the most ridiculous incidents occurred
on March 28 of this year when two local animal rights activists,
Craig Rosebraugh and Leslie Pickering, were leaving the
Multnomah County Library. According to Rosebraugh, as the
two men started to drive away, their car was immediately
pulled over by two police vehicles, which blocked all the
lanes on busy SW 13th Avenue. As a crowd gathered around,
a police lieutenant cited Rosebraugh and Pickering for jaywalking.
was completely absurd," Rosebraugh says. "I could
see the officers in the cars laughing. People were jaywalking
right in front of us as he gave us the citations. But it
was proof that the police were following us around town,
just looking for an excuse to hassle us."
doesn't mind the citation. He looks at it as an opportunity
to make the police waste even more of their time. He and
Pickering are fighting the charges, meaning the officers
who cited him will have to take time off from active duty
or their own time to testify against them at some future