If Nike is expanding into Portland, it won't be without a protest.
Activists, including some affiliated with Occupy Portland, have announced a demonstration tonight against the deal proposed by Gov. John Kitzhaber and the Beaverton-based apparel giant to trade a $150 million company investment in the state for assurances about tax structure.
Tonight's protest is titled an "Emergency Rally Against Oregon Austerity—No Deal for Nike!" It's scheduled for 6:30 pm in Pioneer Courthouse Square.
"This is an emergency call to arms, my friends," Occupy Portland's website says.
We have schools closing all around us, libraries cutting their hours, teachers losing their jobs and families in poverty in need of food and healthcare, yet we can give a multi-billion dollar company tax breaks for the next 40 years? For what? a promise of 500 jobs at the most? It’s not even a guarantee!! How about we don’t give them tax breaks, take that money and hire teachers, create jobs fixing bridges and roads, feed the needy and give healthcare to those who need it!!
Kitzhaber's Nike deal, which will be debated in an special session of the legislature on Friday, solidifies a tax code called the "single sales factor"—which taxes Nike on the basis of its sales here, rather than on its capital investment or employment.
In return, Phil Knight's sneaker empire promises to make a $150 million capital investment creating 500 jobs, some of which may be in Portland.
The Occupy Portland page advertising the protest is accompanied by some inflammatory images, including a Nike swoosh and the phrase, "RIOT: JUST DO IT." (UPDATE, DEC. 14: We have pulled the link after complaints about the page's pop-ups. It's occupyportland.org.)
But the rally's Facebook page offers a detailed argument against the single sales factor.
In November, an anti-austerity
riot march resulted in Portland police pepper-spraying demonstrators after they walked down an unapproved street.
UPDATE, 12:06 pm: Nicholas Ivan Caleb, an organizer of the event, says that while Occupy Portland is endorsing the event, it is only a "peripheral" part of the protest. Other groups include Oregon Save Our Schools and Tax Fairness Oregon.
"Coalition ranges from the mainstream to the activist," Caleb writes on Twitter. "Coalition evolving quickly but not fully formed into a definite group since this Nike deal was pushed without adequate process."