A crowd of well-over 1000 filled Pioneer Courthouse Square this afternoon to protest budget cuts to Oregon schools. But unlike other recent protests, this one was composed almost entirely of teenagers. There were also some educators, a few Portland mayoral candidates, and some (notably excited) parents, who beamed with pride as they passed the protest torch to the next generation.
“I wish people would get the idea that schools are actually important,” said Kai Russell, a 17-year old at Franklin High School. Russell was joined by his friend Remi Darr, also from Franklin, who said he was marching because he feared the constitutional law class he was taking might be cut next year. “It won’t affect me because I am a senior, but I don’t want to see it go way for others either.”
The “UPSET March to Stop Budget Cuts” was organized primarily by Portland-area high schoolers, and it was pretty impressive. Starting at Grant High School, the protesters moved on to the Rose Quarter, then over the Broadway Bridge. As they marched, and as schools got out, their numbers grew from a crowd of about 200 to at least 1000 people that filled Pioneer Courthouse Square. “I mean look at these kids, this is no bullshit,” said Ellen Fortin, a mother of two in Portland schools. “This is grassroots. These kids did this themselves.”
At the square, several mayoral candidates showed up. Jefferson Smith, Eileen Brady, and Cameron Whitten were all in attendance (Charlie Hales was not spotted). None of the candidates spoke at the event. All called for dedicated education funding in the future. And all the candidates seemed impressed with the kids' organizing effort. Of the mayoral hopefuls Whitten said it the best. “I really believe in these kids. There are over 1000 kids out here on a Friday afternoon.”
And now some more pictures:
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