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As Government Shuts Down, Portlanders Take to Downtown Streets and Protest a “Shithole President”

An Impeachment Protest and Me Too rally drew diverse crowds downtown today.

If last year's Women's March on Portland was a storm of pink, this year's Impeachment March and MeToo rallies were smaller drizzles of the same angry energy.

A crowd of at least 1,000 people started gathering in Terry Schrunk Plaza around 12:30 pm—some wearing pink pussy hats, others holding signs that said "Shithole President" and "Dump Trump." The range of messages, and motivations for coming out to rally, was large.

The unifying sentiment, though, was hatred of President Donald J. Trump.

"This year feels more angry because of all the bullshit that's been going on," said one protester, Diane Brodie, who came dressed for the day in a custom screen-printed "Shithole President" shirt.

"Obviously it's still peaceful though," she added. "I'm seeing a lot of smiles."

The half-dozen marches being held in Portland today coincided with the one-year anniversary of the massive Women's Marches held nationwide. (The Portland event drew about 100,000 people.) They are occurring in the midst of a federal government shutdown, as Congress remains gridlocked over the president's immigration policies.

The various protests today reflect ongoing anger at the White House, but also a fractured progressive protest movement that has struggled nationally to reach consensus on strategy. (In Portland, the organizers of last year's march are under state investigation over missing funds.)

Tabitha Ponciano, an organizer with the Portland Committee For Human Rights in the Philippines, attended—and was frustrated. Her group's elaborate sign—a jack-in-the box Trump popping out of a box that read "#1 terrorist" with bomb in one hand and money bag in the other—was confiscated by police early on.

"The cops said it could be used as a weapon," Ponciano said. "That was their basis for taking it away from us."

Overall, the police presence was smaller than has been in previous protests, and Ponciano said she hadn't seen any other groups talked to by the cops.

Officers took post at the street corners of the protest route, but for the most part looked on casually. There were a small faction of protesters dressed in Black Bloc garb: head to toe in black. But there seemed to be no provocation from the alt-right extremists who have a protest planned for this evening as well.

Two Linfield college students, Rose and Emily, made the trip from McMinville to take part in the demonstration. The pair had fashioned capes out of pride flags.

"Honestly," Rose said, "I didn't even know this was happening until yesterday. Last year I prepared for the Women's March for weeks making signs and stuff."

Emily added that while the crowd this year was smaller, she was encouraged by being around so many people calling for Trump's impeachment.

Included in the hundreds protesting the policies of the past year were young kids in strollers, older folks in knitted pink caps, sign-wearing dogs and a small marching band.

"I'm energized by all this," said a man who gave his name as Peter, who was back after protesting last year with a friend. "Obviously there needs to be a change, so many bad things have happened in the past year."

Among those bad things, and the reason the MeToo movement was birthed, are the many accounts of sexual violence that have come to light recently.

The MeToo protest, which started around 2 pm in Pioneer Square and drew in a lot of the impeachment marchers, sought to address violence against women.

From the middle of the square, woman after woman stepped up to a mic to project their stories of assault out of a small loudspeaker. The silent crowd was a stark contrast to the marching band still echoing through the plaza from the street behind.

This protest too has drawn a diverse crowd—including plenty of men and small children.

"This is huge to see so many people," one volunteer, Alicia said. "Especially to see not only women, but everyone effected by sexual assault."