Early Tuesday saw 100 Portland Public Schools students gathered at the Blanchard Education Service Center to protest cuts proposed in the district budget.
The ‘strike’ started at 7:30am with the group, their numbers bolstered by sympathetic local adults and Occupy movement devotees who unsurprisingly had nothing else to do. After being asked by police to move on from Blanchard the students switched to an impromptu march. Blocking roads, and traffic, as they marched caused police to constantly ask them to move onto the sidewalk. As the march approached various schools along the route, the schools went into lockdown. The demonstration reached City Hall at about 10pm and that too locked its doors before the students could reach it.
Madi Moskowitz, 16, said: “We plan to be entirely peaceful.”
And they were.
The goal was to “Shutdown PPS Headquarters” but employees ducked a line of police tape and entered the building, all while being cordial to the students.
Grant High junior Paul Wells, a protest organizer, asked employees driving in to stop and call in sick instead. But no one took him up on it. Wells said, “I’ve lived through these austerity measures at school. I’ve seen my education go more and more downhill.”
An Occupy protestor supporting the students was heard to say ‘this is them getting their feet wet’. As the protest could be said to have made a little noise, caused some traffic problems, but ultimately made no headway at all into the program they were protesting about, one could say that the exercise was indeed perfect training for joining the wider Occupy movement.
Student protests are however becoming increasingly common and it would be a mistake for Oregon to ignore the matter. The student protests in the UK combined with economic dissatisfaction and disenfranchisement amongst its young and undereducated classes devolved into later riots that shook the country usually famed for the stiff upper lip of its population. Quebec is still suffering from ongoing student protests against a rise in tuition fees that have caused significant economic disruption.