Dozens of people arrived at Mr. Kohler's luxurious, taxpayer-financed mansion in the West Hills around 6:30pm. They brought candles, a banner, and the sincere belief that what Mr. Kohler does to other animals is wrong. They were met by taxpayer-funded OHSU security forces, who stood on the long, opulent stone stairway leading to the mansion. Throughout the evening, security forces trained large video cameras and spotlights on peaceful demonstrators while the demonstrators gathered into a circle and spoke against animal research. Even the children among us were meticulously videotaped.
IDA Outreach Coordinator Matt Rossell spoke briefly about the plight of primates at OHSU's "research" center, and others around the circle spoke out about their reasons for attending the vigil. Several people noted that this was the first time they had ever done anything like this, and that they were moved to come out after hearing about conditions at the OHSU Primate Center. The ceremony concluded with a few moments of silence to acknowledge the suffering of thousands of animals used like objects in the name of "science."
Some people covered their faces to prevent being identified by the security forces, while others did not. During the vigil, law enforcement officers were observed walking along the street recording license plate numbers of cars belonging to activists. A PDX police officer with the unlikely name of "Nice" showed up to speak to demonstrators in what amounted to a very cordial exchange. In a much-appreciated change from the usual tactics, Officer Nice was kind enough to refrain from pepper spraying any of the children who were present. I asked Officer Nice whether the security forces with the video cameras were actual law enforcement officers, and he said they are. They're OHSU security people, but are certified through the state of Oregon.
That was interesting to learn, because as Mike D pointed out, they were breaking Oregon law. Asked whether he was aware of the fact that they were illegally collecting information on the political and social views and associations of a group of people, Officer Nice said he wasn't sure he was familiar with the ordinance and didn't know if what they were doing was legal or not, but he thought it probably was. Mike D helpfully provided him with the exact ordinance so that he could refresh his memory. For those officers reading the site today, ORS 181.575 clearly states:
"181.575 Specific information not to be collected or maintained. No law enforcement agency, as defined in ORS 181.010, may collect or maintain information about the political, religious or social views, associations or activities of any individual, group, association, organization, corporation, business or partnership unless such information directly relates to an investigation of criminal activities, and there are reasonable grounds to suspect the subject of the information is or may be involved in criminal conduct. [1981 c.905 §8]"
Although the officers were vigilant in their efforts to illegally collect information on activists, as well as their efforts to prevent anyone from walking up the stairs in front of Mr. Kohler's home, they weren't so effective at actually protecting the residence from access. One intrepid and well-loved activist (who has been thoroughly documented by OHSU security forces) walked slowly up the long driveway in plain sight, candle in hand, all the way to the front door without attracting their notice. In an effort to reach the unreachable Mr. Kohler to discuss the issues at hand, he rang the doorbell. Alas, no one answered.