UPDATE: Threatened “Lemonade Uprising” Underwhelms

LTB logo

August 26 was the day of the most recent Last Thursday festival in Portland, an informal gathering that attracts about 15,000 people a month. Tensions were expected to be high, or at least higher than usual, because of the incident in July when government inspectors shut down a seven-year-old's lemonade stand. See "County Apologizes for Shutting Down Unlicensed Lemonade Stand," Lowering the Bar (Aug. 6, 2010) and "Oregon Incident Threatens to Spark 'Lemonade Uprising,'" Forbes.com (Aug. 19, 2010). Angry residents, including local anarchist Michael Franklin, threatened to protest at the next festival, and partly for that reason there was an increased police presence when the 26th rolled around.

The first clue that my comparison with the Whiskey Rebellion might have been a little overstated was in an article the morning of the festival, where I saw this:

And for the end of the night, Fredrick Zal, a member of the group called Friends of Last Thursday, is asking people to participate in a flash mob at 9:45 p.m. Participants are to put a finger to their lips and freeze for five minutes, then leave the event by 10 p.m. — when Last Thursday is supposed to end but often doesn’t in warmer months.

"Remember, people, we have to be done by 10 p.m.!" Wow. So, the plan was for everybody to literally do nothing for five minutes, and then make sure not to violate the informal 10 p.m. curfew. Not exactly storming the Bastille.

Too bad they didn't have flash mobs in 1917 — that would have totally creeped Lenin out.

There were many unlicensed lemonade stands, at least (in Portland, not St. Petersburg). Some of them were set up in solidarity with Julie Murphy, but at least one vendor was interested mostly in profiting like she ultimately did. "My son heard the story and said, why don't we sell lemonade and try to go to Disneyland?" said one guy standing behind some unsanctioned limeade. He said the cops had left him alone, so maybe the point was made.

Realistically, the chance of any significant protests as a result of the lemonade-stand incident was low, but that didn't stop Portland from quadrupling the police presence at the festival from the usual 10 officers to 40, plus a couple of dozen "private contractors." This seems to have made people more angry than the original thuggery did. The Oregonian reported that the price tag for that kind of security was "unsustainable," and that people were calling the city to complain about the manure from the police horses. "It's kind of upsetting," said one resident, who bravely refused to give his name. "It's right in the middle of the sidewalk, where we walk." Here's what you do – put a finger to your lips, and freeze for five minutes. Or just get a shovel.