EDITORIAL: Charlie Hales Got Played By Greenpeace
Monday, August 03, 2015
On Wednesday, Greenpeace launched a “civil disobedience” to block the ice cutter Fennica from traveling up the Willamette. The bridge protest was just the latest in Greenpeace’s strategy to gain PR attention.
In Jerusalem, Pittsburgh, and Vancouver, Greenpeace staged protests that did not gain as much attention as these cities' law enforcement minimized the disruption and the impact to their community. Portland was the backdrop for national and global PR. This was not an organic Oregon protest.
But, at the conclusion of the Portland episode, Hales issued a convoluted press release declaring political victory.
For a little over a day and the cost of tens of thousands of dollars for public safety personel, this protest also created a major disruption for commuters. Hayes’s statement appears to be intentionally written to be incoherent so that it can’t be interpreted.
Portland should be a place for folks from Portland to embrace ideas, protests, and free speech, but as Portland becomes more and more of a national city it runs the risk of being manipulated as a stage for everyone and anyone’s cause.
Mayor Hales needs to protect free speech, but not encourage Portland to be the host to national and global groups using this city to demonstrate their opposition for arctic drilling support or support for racial segregation. Yesterday, it may be Greenpeace, but tomorrow it may be the KKK. Mr. Hales you're setting the rules for everyone.
Read Hales statement:
“This was a hard day for me – and for a lot of people in Portland. I oppose drilling in the Arctic. But it was a great day for Portland in these ways:
First, we made sure everyone was safe. Everyone was committed to safety, including the protesters, our amazing first responders, the Coast Guard, and the activists. That was our first priority.
Our second priority was free speech. It was imperative that the protesters be heard. They were, on a national and even international scale. That’s something we all believe in, here in Portland.
And third, we enforced the law.
Now it’s time to move from protest to action: to changing the laws. After all, that’s the point of the protest.
I want to thank everyone involved in this situation.
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