In a city where tension between cops and protesters climbs up and down like a biorhythm, last Thursday's Bush inauguration was like a hit of Valium.

Sure, police arrested 15 adults and two kids in an estimated crowd of 2,000, but the vast majority of the Jan. 20 protest-including a takeover of the KATU-TV offices and a downtown Chevron-stayed pretty low-key.

In contrast to past cop crackdowns that sparked costly lawsuits ("Red-Pepper Blues," WW, Aug. 28, 2002), only one man was pepper-sprayed, reportedly for rushing a cop.

Some activists believe there's been a quiet shift in the local lefty community, which, under Bush I, got Portland christened "Little Beirut." Others, however, say it was simply a case where the more aggressive protesters couldn't get riled up over the second coronation of Bush II.

Alan Graf, a lawyer best known for filing civil suits on protesters' behalf, gives the cops some credit, saying, "They were more restrained than before," though he's still troubled by the intimidating show of force-more than 200 cops, many in riot gear. "They are still way over-militarized," he says.

It's unclear whether the police are doing anything differently. But it probably didn't hurt that there was a familiar face on the other side of the police lines. Among those joining the protesters was former Chief Tom Potter, who earlier this month was sworn in as mayor.