Organizers of One Billion Rising, the worldwide protest to draw attention to issues of violence against women, are refusing to obtain a permit for their downtown march.
The march, a part of national V-Day observations, is scheduled to begin at 3 pm Thursday, Feb. 14 in Director Park. Women will be dancing in solidarity with other women who have been raped or abused.
The Portland Police Bureau is concerned by what will happen next: a march through downtown streets that will disrupt traffic. The police say they won't stop it, but they want to know where the march is going.
Organizers reportedly won't give those details until right before the march starts. They say on Facebook their march has expanded to include protest of a Portland police captain accused of inappropriately touching female employees.
The last major Portland march not to get a permit was an anti-austerity protest last November. That event culminated when police argued with marchers over which street they could use, then pepper-sprayed them.
WW is trying to reach One Billion Rising organizers for comment. Their Facebook post makes it clear that march organizers are focused on recent strife within the Police Bureau:
We are saying that we do not need "permission" to demand an end to violence against us. This is a human right. We are tired of asking for permission for things which should not be an issue to begin with. [...]
We are currently communicating and working with the portland police, and have contacted Portland Mayor Charlie Hales for help in assuring safety for our marchers. I am hoping that we can find a solution to meet any concerns they may have, as well as how to allow for our first amendment, constitutional rights to be exercised.
For the organizing team who reached consensus about not obtaining a permit, we needed to make it clear to the city that leaving officers who sexually assault female co-workers in a position of legal authority, as is the case for Captain Todd Wyatt, is not okay. Being the second largest portal in the nation for human sex trafficking of women and girls, then firing the detectives who go public about this information is no longer tolerable. In addition to the global demands to end violence against women and girls, we also have demands for the city of Portland that they change the way they handle these issues.
Here's the police statement:
The Portland Police Bureau would like to make the community aware of a rally and march planned for Thursday February 14, 2013, in Downtown Portland.
The rally is reportedly set to begin at 3:00 p.m. at Director Park at Southwest 9th Avenue and Taylor Street, followed by a march throughout Downtown Portland.
Police have learned that the rally and march is called the "F14 One Billion Rising Global Day of Action." Information about the event is posted on Facebook as well as http://www.onebillionrising.org.
Based on current information, the rally and march may last approximately one hour.
The Portland Police Bureau has been in communication with event organizers but to date, the organizers are refusing to obtain a permit for the march and have stated that they may share the march route information but not until right before the event begins.
Rally and march organizers have further expressed that they will not comply with requests to remain on the sidewalks or stop for traffic signals.
By contacting the rally and march organizers, the Police Bureau hopes to discuss the route of the march and to ensure that the event would be law abiding and peaceful.
It should be clear that "free speech events" do not require a permit; but, marches or demonstrations occurring in public streets that restrict movement of other community members do require a permit issued by the City of Portland.
The hope of the Portland Police Bureau is for the event to be a peaceful expression of free speech without infringing on the rights of others and officers will exercise discretion throughout the event.