PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Separate groups rallied in support of Ukraine Sunday afternoon in downtown Portland and Vancouver as hundreds of people took part in a planned international “day of action” to denounce the Russian invasion.
The gathering in Portland at Pioneer Courthouse Square was organized by Veterans for Peace, Chapter 72. Their noon rally was dubbed a “rally to call for peace in Ukraine.” The group called for an end to the incursion which officially started Feb. 24 when Russian President Vladimir Putin abruptly announced a “special military operation.”
The Portland rally included people with varying political beliefs and viewpoints. Janet Wiel with Veterans for Peace said they were there “to send a strong message to our US government starting with President Biden that this war in Ukraine is devastating. It’s very dangerous to the entire world. And it must be stopped. There must be negotiations immediately.”
In Vancouver, people met at Esther Short Park, waving the Ukrainian flag, denouncing the war and calling for a rapid stop to the invasion.
In Vancouver, where there is a large eastern European population, people displayed “Stop Putin” signs in the rally at Esther Short Park.
“Today we are with Americans, we keep our voice for freedom, to support our people in Ukraine. We are here, united to say no war, no more killing,” said Pastor Paul Demyanik of the Ukrainian Baptist Church. “Putin will not stop with Ukraine. He will move forward with Europe. Stop that evil today.”
Bill Whipple, who was among the group at Esther Short Park, said he “felt like it’s a pretty loud, widespread support, against the aggression, against invading a sovereign nation.”
In a release sent out ahead of the rally, organizers of the Southwest Washington event said “The people of Ukraine are suffering war, death, injury, displacement and the destruction of their cities and towns. In the spirit of our common humanity, we gather to recognize their suffering and the suffering of Russian troops that are compelled to fight.”
Participants at the downtown rally, including Ukraine supporters, climate activists and veterans, decried the mounting casualties, environmental destruction and the rising threat of nuclear war.
Organizers said they stand in solidarity with the thousands of antiwar protesters who have been arrested in Russia. Organizers demanded a ceasefire, Russia’s immediate withdrawal of troops and negotiations toward a peace treaty.
Another part of the Portland rally was organized by Extinction Rebellion PDX. The efforts in Vancouver were put together by several groups, including MoveOn Clark County, Vancouver for Peace, Indivisible Greater Vancouver and Odyssey World International Education Services.
The pair of protests follows several similar events held recently across the Portland metro area. On Saturday, a crowd of people, some wearing blue and yellow, marched on a path along I-205 chanting and holding signs in support of the embattled Eastern European nation.
On Feb. 26, hundreds convened for the “Support Ukraine, Stop Putin” rally at the Salmon Street Springs Fountain. It was organized by the Ukrainian-American Cultural Association of Oregon and Southwest Washington and followed another rally held earlier that week at the same location.