Little Beirut was on fire this May Day. For one hot minute, at least.
Portland’s annual organized labor marches have also become a recurring excuse for confrontation between the heavily geared-up Police Bureau and masked anarchists known as the “Black Bloc,” who this year dragged newspaper boxes onto the light-rail tracks to make a bonfire, and traded projectiles with riot police—Pepsi cans and smoke bombs going one direction, and noise grenades the other.
Police issued permits for today’s march, which began with a lunchtime rally at Shemanski Park, where a couple thousand people gathered to support a spectrum of leftist groups. They included labor unions, socialist and communist organizations, anarchist collectives, feminist bookstores, racial justice groups, immigrants’ advocates, evangelical Christians, Quakers, Cascadian separatists and, of course, Black Bloc, who inevitably seize the headlines.
And understandably so! Today, in addition to the generating camera-friendly smoke and flames, they brought three giant spider puppets constructed on top of shopping carts.