About 300 marchers on Thursday joined the One Billion Rising world movement to protest violence against women, marching in downtown Portland carrying hand-made signs that read “Fight like a girl,” “I should not
About 300 marchers on Thursday joined the One Billion Rising world movement to protest violence against women, marching in downtown Portland carrying hand-made signs that read “Fight like a girl,” “I should not have to be afraid,” and “Speak out for daughters, sisters, mothers, selves.”
One Billion Rising is a call to action by V-Day, the campaign started by “Vagina Monologues” playwright Eve Ensler in 1998 to end violence against women. Worldwide, one in three women will be raped, beaten, sexually coerced, trafficked or otherwise abused in her lifetime, according to the United Nations Development Fund for Women.
For the 15th anniversary of the V-Day movement, the organization called for a global strike as an act of solidarity.
Portland organizers chose not to get a permit to march the streets as an act of civil disobedience.
“This is not to disrespect Portland Police,” said Gina Ronning, an organizer, before the crowd embarked on its downtown march. “Out of highest respect for the law, we must walk out into our community to stand against violence.”
There was little confrontation during the Thursday afternoon march from Director Park to Pioneer Square to First Unitarian Church of Portland, where there was food and activities.
Two clashes between cars and marchers occurred in the gathering’s second hour, at and near the church. Portland Police Sgt. Craig Dobson said the relative peace was about what police expected. Five officers walked the sidewalks alongside the marchers, with six Portland Parks Rangers and several TriMet officers as back-up.
“We’re here to make this as un-protest as possible,” said Ranger Alex Gastile. “Our job is to let them to do their thing and make sure it doesn’t get out of hand.”
Marchers started with a rally at Director Park, with a Native American drum circle and stories from women who had experienced violence from men.
“I’m not an object for you to select,” Emily Miller, 20, said during a spoken word performance. “I’m sick of men telling me what it’s all about. … Stand up and fight.”
Miller wrote the verses three years go, “after I was taken advantage of,” she said. There’s no written copy; she committed the words to memory.
Katie Braun, an East Portland resident, in December was beaten by an ex-boyfriend who broke into her house. She talked about the hurdles to getting police response to her assault.
“The officer came to my house and told me to rub out my bruises,” Braun said. When she went to a police station, they told her she had to leave or they would arrest her.
Beth Rakonca, 45, said she was marching to create a better world for her daughters, 12 and 14 years old.
Rakonca came to Oregon from Chicago 25 years ago after a boyfriend beat her up and broke her jaw. She took her son, 2 years old at the time, and ran.
“I felt lost, alone, like a victim,” she said. “If I can empower one person, I will.”
Portland’s was one of hundreds of demonstrations across the world, according to organizers. The One Billion Rising website had video from marches in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Brazil, India, Israel, Africa, Taiwan, and a host of other countries.