From Portland: World Week for Animals in Labs (WWAIL) officially started on Saturday. All across the country, campaigners will be engaging Skanska and the University of Washington. Everything will culminate in mass opposition on the campus of UW. Things are only just beginning as the No New Animal Lab campaign gears up for a week of action. Portland activists started a bit early on Friday with a demonstration outside the offices of Skanska USA. Skanska remains the focus of the campaign around the country. Offices all over will be subject to pressure and protest. On Saturday Portland activists kicked off WWAIL by organizing a community potluck. After eating and discussing plans for carpools up to Seattle, everyone helped make banners and signs in preparation for the upcoming #MarchonUW. There was a great turnout, which is a good indicator that Portland folks will be swarming Seattle on the 25th. After getting materials ready for the march, carloads of activists went to the home of David Schmidt. David is a familiar face on the No New Animal Lab campaign site. That is because he was been the subject of home and office demonstrations for months. Schmidt is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Skanska USA, responsible for all Northwest-based operations, and the final signature to appear on the contract with UW. David hasn't really taken well to the pressure. He has installed hidden cameras around his home. He has had protesters unreasonably detained by police for well over an hour. He has the Beaverton Police Department posted (like private security) around his neighborhood whenever there is even talk of demonstrations. Maybe all of the overreaction on his part is simply because he seems to have bad luck. When protesters arrived at his home, it was clear from the all the commotion and parked cars in his driveway that David Schmidt was hosting either a family gathering, having friends over for drinks, or both. One thing is for sure--he certainly didn't want a protest in front of all his guests. Immediately the demonstration was met with angry, drunk neighbors and family members, who threw their drinks at the crowd of demonstrators and screamed in their faces. But the focus remained on Schmidty and his decision to profit from a vivisection lab. Of course David himself didn't show his face. Instead he had his friends and family--including what appeared to be his kids--storm out from his home to confront protesters. Apparently David can't face the consequences of his actions himself.
Protesters and the Schmidt family and friends were not alone that evening. In fact they were joined by a suspicious man in uniform who was parked in front of David's home even before the protesters approached. He sat in a large black SUV with tinted windows. When chanting started he went inside and presumably spoke with David and his family. He then watched from the driveway and took photos. Appearing as a police officer, activists asked for identification and the law enforcement agency for which he worked. He refused. Because police in uniform are required to give identification (name, badge #, etc) upon request, activists pressed him further. He would only state that he was "private" and "worked for the state" (two contradictory positions). Nevertheless he was in full uniform and carrying a gun. His affiliations remain a mystery. Beaverton Police eventually arrived later, but did not act to stop the protest. This marks a strong beginning to week of action against Skanska and UW. Clearly those with power are concerned for what lies ahead. They should be.