RIP George Bush. Here’s How Portland Protested Him in the 1990s, and Earned the Name “Little Beirut.”

“It was the first time I think the community at large had coalesced around an issue of war probably since Vietnam,” photographer Scot Hampton says.

No Blood For Oil. Portland Gulf War protest. 1990. (Copyright (c) 2018 Scot Hampton)

This week, the nation is mourning the death of former President George H. W. Bush.

No consideration of Bush's legacy would be complete without a reminder that he put Portland's protest scene on the map—and gave the city a nickname that stuck.

In the Trump era, Portland has hosted bloody political brawls. But this city was no slouch in the 1990s, either. Back then, protesters were staging shows of resistance against the George H. W. Bush administration that were so extreme that a Bush staffer gave Portland the name "Little Beirut."

Bush, who died Nov. 30 at the age of 94, was the subject of much backlash from Portlanders—partly for his waging of the Gulf War, but also for failing to address the AIDS epidemic and for his pro-life stances, among other things.

Related: In 2016, we revisited Portland's legendary Bush protests.

During one protest in September 1990—when Bush's vice president Dan Quayle was in town raising funds for Oregon GOP candidates—a group called the Reverse Peristalsis Painters swallowed food coloring and ipecac to vomit red, white and blue in front of the Hilton where Quayle was staying.

Portland's protests against the first Gulf War were also memorable.

Scot Hampton, a photographer who grew up in Portland, remembers shooting a Gulf War protest, No Blood For Oil, circa 1991.

"It was an electric scene," he says. "There were people of all ages and all walks of life, whom were very emphatic in their opposition to the war."

He continues: "It was the first time I think the community at large had coalesced around an issue of war probably since Vietnam, so there was lot of emotion and a lot of veterans present—all rallying behind the disapproval of the first Gulf War."

As a throwback to the roots of Portland's Little Beirut reputation, here's gallery of the protest photos Hampton shot nearly three decades ago.

All photos copyright (c) 2018 Scot Hampton. All Rights Reserved. No reprint w/o permission. 

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