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Mon Jul 20, 2020, 11:16 PM

Portland's Distinguished Reputation as "Little Beirut".

From the archives of The Oregonian
Updated May 18, 2019; Posted Apr 11, 2016

21 of the most memorable protests in Portland history
Updated May 18, 2019; Posted Apr 11, 2016

Last month, Portland State students disrupted a university governing-board meeting, forcing board members to retreat to a bunker -- er, unmarked basement conference room -- to vote on a proposed tuition increase. Was it one of the more memorable protests in our local history? No, but that’s because Portland sets a high bar. The Rose City is known around the world for its demonstrations. On the pages that follow we offer up some of the most interesting, strange and meaningful Portland protests ever.

In 1934, striking Portland longshoremen protested efforts to bring in replacement workers. They surrounded the hiring hall and disabled buses that were there to take the new hires to the port. “The strikebreakers never even got near the docks,” The Oregonian reported. (Port operators responded by turning an old ship into a “floating hotel” so the replacement workers wouldn’t have to cross picket lines, but strikers infiltrated it, tossing guards into the water.)

In July 2000, 26-year-old environmental activist Tre Arrow, protesting logging in the Mount Hood National Forest, spent 11 days on a 9-inch-wide, third-story ledge on the downtown Portland building that housed the U.S. Forest Service’s Northwest regional offices. He finally rappelled to the ground and “into the arms of his supporters.” (12 years later, Arrow ran for Portland mayor while in jail, where he had landed after a supervised-release violation on an eco-arson conviction.)

President George H.W. Bush supposedly dubbed Portland “Little Beirut” after being met by determined protesters in 1991. (The actual Beirut was wrecked in the 1970s and ’80s during the Lebanese Civil War.) The writer Chuck Palahniuk says Portland “anarchists” during this time gathered outside the downtown Hilton Hotel whenever presidents came to town. They ate potatoes dyed with food coloring and “then, when the motorcade arrived, drank Syrup of Ipecac and puked big Red, White and Blue barf puddles all over the hotel.”

And much, more.


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