KATU Botches Toll Sign Segment

Posted: October 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

Tonight KATU Channel 2 in Portland did a segment on the sign story that has been making the rounds for the last several days. Unfortunately, the piece was so painted and even fabricated in several points that the end result was almost unrecognizable to anyone who was actually involved in the sign-waving event. A few of the outlandish quotes:

Protesters demonstrating against plans for a toll to pay for a new Interstate 5 Bridge have been given the boot by the Washington Department of Transportation.One of the reasons they got in trouble was for standing along the freeway onramp. Earlier this week the protesters were along the north and south ends of the Interstate Bridge, but the signs they were using were also a problem. Protesters held large, orange signs made to look like construction area warning signs but that carried the anti-toll message. Demonstrators also wore vests and hardhats like construction workers do. It was all to promote a Clark County Commission candidate opposed to the current plan for the Columbia River Crossing project. But Washington’s department of transportation told the protesters to move because they were in a dangerous area, and the signs could confuse drivers.

I began to wonder as I read this if we were still, in fact, talking about the same people. First of all, we were not ‘protesting’; we were campaigning for David Madore, who they curiously never mentioned in the piece at all. We were also never ‘given the boot’ by anyone. As we were leaving a two-hour session on one of the on-ramps to I-5 South on Monday morning, our signs already having been packed up and all of us headed home, a state trooper pulled up, took our names and told us that pedestrians were not allowed in that area. He stated very clearly that he had absolutely no issue with the signs (we asked) and that we were free to set up on any sidewalk we wanted. He also told us that it was a very common mistake that he has to deal with every election season because people think that if the homeless people can come and hold their signs, so can everyone else. We were not cited, and we shook hands with him and went on our merry way.

The painted story is ironic, because we were passed by at least a half-dozen police before the state trooper came, and they merely waved at us. If we were doing anything obviously dangerous, it is highly doubtful that they would just pass right by us at the crawl that always results from an on-ramp light without saying a word. The truth is that there was no perceivable danger in the situation at all, the speed of the cars going by was slower than I could run. One driver was actually having a 20-second conversation with us about how she was from Chicago, and it was very necessary that we get light rail so that Vancouver could be just like her hometown.

The Department of Transportation has never contacted us, nor did they have anything definitive to tell us when we took it upon ourselves to contact them. So to say that they ‘gave us the boot’ is a total falsehood. The article goes on to say that we were wearing construction-worker outfits, including construction vests and hard hats. The reflector vests we were wearing were yellow like any pedestrian or bicyclist might wear (note the picture in my previous post). Construction vests are orange (see below).

I have no bloody idea where they got the hard hat thing from. There aren’t any in the pictures, we never had any…they just completely made that part up to fit their narrative that we were impersonating construction workers. It kind of makes me wonder what else they are making up…

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