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Sep 28, 23

Portland, OR: Industrial Timber Conference Disrupted by Protesters; Windows Busted Out

In so-called Portland, Oregon, protesters mobilized this week to disrupt the “Who Will Own the Forest Conference,” which according to Oregon Live, brought together such corporate interests as “leading names in the timber industry…[like] Weyerhaeuser, and international investment firms like J.P. Morgan.”

According to the website set up for a counter-conference, “Forests Over Profits,” the “Who Will Own the Forest” gathering:

…[B]rings together some of the biggest climate polluters, corporate forest clear-cutters, and false climate solutions peddlers.

While communities around the world suffer record-breaking impacts of the climate crisis, these rich elites will convene to schmooze & network over cocktails & catering, discussing their plans to maximize profits: corporate land-grabbing, extractive clear-cutting, financializing nature, and pushing false climate solutions like carbon offsets & biomass to keep big polluters in business. In the face of the climate emergency, these big polluters and investors are sacrificing communities and the ecosystems we depend on to stay in business & keep their profits rolling in.

Capitalist investors grow profits, not forests. But communities know our forests can be vital solutions to the climate emergency, if we protect & restore them instead of exploiting them. We’re rising up and fighting back; we won’t let our forests, communities, and climate be sacrificed for the rich to get richer.

A report from the protests on Wednesday submitted to It’s Going Down wrote:

This morning, a dozen activists joined arms and blocked the entrance to the “Who Will Own the Forest Conference,” in the second disruption of the conference in two days. Protestors harangued conference goers with chants of “shame” and “clean water, clean air, not another billionaire.”

The protest comes hours before a major rally planned to protest the conference, and immediately on the heels of a similar disruption yesterday evening, where dozens of activists blocked the entrance to the opening reception the conference while a banner reading, “Land Back: You Will Never Own The Forest” was hung above the entrance of the World Forestry Center.

This “signature timberland investment conference” brings together some of the biggest climate polluters, corporate forest clear-cutters, and false climate solutions peddlers.

“This is Indigenous land. It is despicable that these out of touch timber barons and Wall Street investors gather annually to scheme about the continued destruction of these ecosystems and the ongoing dispossession of Indigenous people of their ancestral lands,” said Riley Fields, an Indigenous organizer with WRENCH. “Forests will never be private property.”

The action comes as the Who Will Own The Forest Conference has attracted considerable opposition from organizations across the region.

Dozens of organizations from across the region, including the Indigenous Environmental Network, are converging today for a major rally planned to protest the conference and confront the Wall St. profiteers leveling forests across the region, and the country. The rally will include speakers, music, theatrical performances, art & creative resistance, and more.

On Thursday, September 28 communities and activists will host the Forests Over Profits conference. In contrast to the corporate “Who Will Own the Forest?” conference, Forests Over Profits will elevate truly sustainable forest management and the need for fundamental systems change in the face of capitalist exploitation and the climate and biodiversity crises.

But before the corporate forest gathering had even opened its doors, it was already facing resistance. According to a communique posted to Rose City Counter-Info:

Overnight, a group of anarchists attacked the World Forestry Center museum and its conference building next door, destroying doors, windows, and the museum’s glass facade before dissapearing into the darkness. The Center is set to host the “Who Will Own the Forest?” conference September 26th-28th. The conference brings together “landowners, asset managers, investors, forest industry executives” and other vampires to plan and adapt their plundering of the forests for capitalist growth.

To truly defend the forests requires the destruction of capitalism altogether. Knowing there can be no dialogue with what must be destroyed, we turn to the attack.

We hope the damage presents an obstacle to the conference going as planned. Though we don’t mind the ambience of broken glass and missing windows, we expect the industry executives might!

Love to those fighting against Cop City, the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and their world!

Oregon Live documented the vandalism in a report on the protests on Thursday, noting that “At least a dozen windows at the World Forestry Center were smashed.”

All photos submitted via WRENCH.

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It’s Going Down is a digital community center from anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements. Our mission is to provide a resilient platform to publicize and promote revolutionary theory and action.

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