Organized by Occupy Portland and the city's branch of the national Move to Amend movement—whose catchphrase is “end corporate rule. legalize democracy”— the protesters were marking the two-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
The ruling stated that corporations should be considered legal persons under the law and ought to be entitled to free speech, which helped unleash a tsunami of corporate spending on U.S. elections. Needless to say, this decision has pissed more than a few people off.
One of the pissed off is Occupy Portland’s Erin Madden.
“Corporations are not we the people and we can no longer let corporations buy our elections at the expense of our representative democracy,” Madden said to the crowd.
While part of a larger national movement—there were actions planned for more than 140 cities across the U.S.—the Portland incarnation of the protest was organized by local members of the Alliance for Democracy and included member from the First Unitarian Church, the Raging Grannies, and what remains of Occupy Portland.
“Corporate personhood has been a critical issue to us from the very beginning in the camp,” Madden said. “And even though we no longer maintain a camp today, we are still working every day to restore democracy for the 99 percent.”
Madden was among several organizers who worked directly with Mayor Sam Adams' office on Portland’s own anti-corporate resolution. Last week, the Portland City Council approved a city resolution stating that corporations should not have the same legal rights as actual people. Portland followed other cities across the U.S., including New York City, Los Angeles, and Portland, Maine.
“We may not have a presence in the city park, but we are certainly still working on a number of issues everyday,” Madden said.
Shortly after noon, the protest crossed the MAX line on SW 6th Avenue and gathered in front of Pioneer Courthouse.
At the courthouse steps, courthouse security blocked protesters from entering the building. Shortly after 12:30, a protester wearing a yellow rain-jacket tried to get inside. He got his wish. Courthouse security scuffled with the man momentarily before subduing him and dragging him inside.