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Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Giving peace a bad name

Oregonian columnist S. Renee Mitchell really let the anti-war protest community have a piece of her mind yesterday about vandalism and violence in protests. She was steamed at the guy whom police are after for damaging the roof of an expensive car on the Morrison Bridge on the afternoon of March 15, when war protest fever was just starting to peak. If the protest community is so anti-violence, Mitchell asked, why is nobody stepping forward to turn this culprit in?

I like Mitchell's work, and I'm with her on this one.

You want to protest? That's the great thing about America, you can do it all you want, so long as you do it legally. Until you've stood on a picket line starting at 6 a.m. on a series of dark, cold, rainy Portland winter mornings, you have no idea how good it feels. If W. decides he's going to start throwing his hands around outside Iraq, I may even have to dust off my picketing hat and get out there myself.

It's cool to picket. It's cool to chant and sing. It's cool to leaflet. It's cool to blog. It's cool to talk to passersby about what you're trying to say. It's cool to camp out on the sidewalk for as long as you can stand it. It's cool to turn the other cheek when people give you the finger. It's even cool to block traffic on a city street for a little while, I guess.

But no matter how just the cause, it is not cool to run out or ride one's bicycle on an interstate freeway where people are driving at 70 miles an hour. It is not cool to break windows at McDonald's and Starbucks. It is not cool to spray paint a bunch of inanities on other people's buildings.

And it is not cool to start jumping up and down on the roof of somebody's car, with them in it, when they're just trying to get home from the grocery store.

The cops are offering $1,000 for this fellow's particulars. Peaceful protesters, turn him in and use the money to feed the peace campers, buy an ad somewhere, or create some great new signs:

The official "crime stoppers" notice on this "suspect" is here, and the phone number to call is (503) 823-4357.

And you go, S. Renee Mitchell.

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