Local Organizations Protest the World Athletics Championships On Its Penultimate Day

On July 23, Eugene Housing and Neighborhood Defense, the Eugene Revolutionary Study Group, the Revolutionary Women’s Committee, and Stop The Sweeps-Eugene held a protest to “denounce the non-consensual use of our city for colossal sporting events” on the second-to-last day of the World Athletics Championships being held at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field.

A flier with a white background. The top 1/3 is a photo of Hayward Field with the words "Survival Over Sports" in bold white text over it. The rest of the flier says "A RALLY AGAINST THE WORLD ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS Join us to denounce the non-consensual use of our city for colossal sporting events! Come stand with fellow working class people in opposition to the capitalists who exploit our labor, raise our rents, sweep the homeless, and police the poor. JULY 23RD 5:00PM CAMPBELL PARK PARKING LOT (205 CHESIRE AVE, NORTHWESTOFTHE CAMPBELL COMMUNITY CENTER) ORGANIZED BY EUGENE HOUSING & NEIGHBORHOOD DEFENSE eugeneHAND@protonmail.com"
The flier for the “Rally Against the World Athletics Championships” on July 23, 2022 — the second-to-last day of the international sporting event taking place at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field. [Robert Scherle // Double Sided Media]

A flier for the protest, titled “A Rally in Opposition to the World Athletics Championships,” said for those to “come stand with fellow working class people in opposition to the capitalists who exploit our labor, raise our rents, sweep the homeless, and police the poor.” These “colossal sporting events” aren’t new to Eugene and, as a result, this was not their first time protesting an international sporting event at UO — in 2021, the organization protested the Olympic Trials which were also held at Hayward Field. 

A crowd of people march towards the camera and are lined, on both sides, by cars parked along the road and trees. The bright sun peeks out from breaks in the canopy. In the front, two people hold a large white banner that reads "rich play workers suffer" as dozens follow behind.
The protest against the World Athletics Championships sets off from Campbell Park towards the Riverfront Festival on July 23, 2022. [Robert Scherle // Double Sided Media]

Around 5 p.m., activists with Eugene HAND and frustrated members of the community gathered at Campbell Park’s parking lot. During the initial gathering, several fliers and pamphlets were given to people. 

  • A black-and-white phamplet. The front has a photo of the Hayward Field stands and it says "SURVIVAL OVER SPORTS How the 2022 World Athletics Championships are an attack on the poor and working people of Eugene, OR"
  • A black and white inner-two pages of a pamplhet. The bottom of the left page has a photo of the stands at Hayward Field and a photo at the top of the right page is of a volkswagon beetle painted with Rio 2016 logos. The text of the two pages, from left page to right, says: "STRUGLE IN OUR INTEREST The 2022 World Athletic Championships are taking place in Eugene OR, so-called Track Town USA", on July 15-24th. It is the third largest sporting event in the world, after the Olympics and World Cup. the traditional bidding process for the host city was bypased tor this year's event, with Eugene chosen behind closed doors. This decision was investigated for corruption by the FBI, but was swept under the rug after a feww high ranking officials, including Robort Coe (CEO of Worid Athletics and Brand Ambassador tor Nike at the time), quietly steppod down. Whatever other bribery may have happened, it is clear is that the recent $400 million dollar renovation of University of Oregon's Hayward Field, funded by Nike's infamous billionaire CEO Phil Knight, was the hook, line, and sinker tor the Championships to be held here. He will certainly make a pretty penny off this investment. DARE TO SREUGGLE The World Athletics Championships needs a playground for their attendees, so to get their liberal paradise ready, the city has to clean house. First, they violently sweep homeless people to the outskirts of town. Then, they need to tind a place to put up attendees. So, ignorin9 that many tenants are cost burdened by rent to the point ot having to vacate thcir homes and even the city, they build new hotels, encourage short-term rentals with abandon, and allow costs ot living be jacked up to drive poor tenants out. Next, they need to cater to the wealthy visitors. Service workers get their voices silenced, their breaks cut, and prepare to be pummeled with at least twice the customers with noo increase in their low wages. Like most sporting events, the World Athletic Championships are not simply a celebration of athletic prowess, but a violent cash grab or capitalists to line their pockets. The cty is expecting a daunting 200,000 visitors tor the event, which is roughly the Population ot tho city itselt. It is estimated that the spending by athletes, teams, and tans could range trom 550 million to S200 million. The working people of Eugene will see none of that Meanwhile, the state is tunneling money that should go to improving our lives into the Championships- approximately S75 million of it. This process is not unique to Eugene. Around the globe, poor people have bared the brunt of the ugly side of sporting events meant to dazzle and delight the rich and famous. But where there is exploitation, there is resistance, and the masses have shown time and time again how we can come together to push back against these oPpressive events and demand what we deserve. It is not sports that are the problem, it is the mountain of money behind them and the people that sit atop it. The money that moves through hands out of reach of those who need it most. The people that hoard resources and work us to the bone so they can live in luxury. No one asked us, the working people of Eugene, how this would inpact us or it we even wanted it. So let us make it clear The World Athletics Championships are not welcome here."
  • The back of a black-and-white pamplet. It says: "UNITED WE FIGHT, DIVIDED WE BEG Following in the steps of poor and working people internationally, Eugene Housing and Neighborhood Defense HAND) wil be hosting an event to denounce the non-consensual Use of our city as the grounds tor this exploitative sporting event. For decades, people have stood up against events like the World CUp and the Olympics, who cost millions to host and yet bring destitution, back breaking labor, and unwelcome guests into cities ot people struggling to make ends meet. On July 23rd at 5:00pm, HAND will be hosting a rally at Campbell Park in OPposition to the event. We will be meeting at the parking lot on Chesire Ave. It is open to all who want to fight back against the presence of the World Athletics Championships and learn mor about systemic attacks on workers and tenants. HAND is an organization of tenants fighting to unite working people against landlords, developers, property management companies, and other class enemies. In your apartment complex, or in your workplace, you do not have to fight alone. We are stronger together! Please reach out to to learn more about our upcoming event, or it you would like to talk about organizing with your neighbors. eugeneHAND@protonmail.com Instagram: eug.hand Twitter: eug_hand"
  • A white flier with both red and (mostly) black text. It says "OIN THE EUGENE REVOLUTIONARY STUDY GROUP! The United States today is neither truly free nor democratic. It is an imperialist country, where the capitalist ruling class brutally exploits and oppresses the working people, both here at home and across the world. The only way to stop the misery off the people is by a socialist revolution, and to build a new society controlled by the workers ourselves. The Eugene Revolutionary Study Group seeks to deepen our understanding of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and too propagate and understanding of the system and method of MLM as a revolutionary science to the masses in our area. By studying the experience of organizers and revolutionaries before us, we can know how to fight back, and put what wve learned into practice! Contact us to join in our studies or learn more! instagram: @eugrevstudy eugrevstudy@proton.me"

Beginning the rally, a few speeches were given at the park. 

The first speaker said that the WAC has affected the city by forcing it to throw all of its time, money, and resources into the event and not into the betterment of its own community. 

“The town of Eugene has spent so much time and money and resources putting into the planning of this event all those resources that are supposed to be going to improving the lives of the working class of this city,” the speaker said. “They justify using those resources to put on an event like this because it’s supposed to upgrade the city and the people living and working within it but that is a lie” and “only bring exploitation on the working class and put money in the pockets of people like phil knight and our city councilors.”

The speaker also talked about the road closures that came with the WAC and said that “people have talked about taking time off of work because they didn’t know if they could navigate the roadways to get to where they needed to work.”

Another speaker, Anya Dobrowolski with Stop The Sweeps-Eugene, grabbed the microphone.

Dobrowolski began her speech and said “My comrades and I at Stop the Sweeps are heart broken and disgusted to see our government use tax dollars to help the rich raise our rents, build buildings we don’t need, and brutalize our neighbors.”

“The [City of Eugene] has ramped up its criminalization of homelessness, turning non cop departments into part of the policing apparatus so they could systematically harass, intimidate and force evictions of our unhoused neighbors,” she continued. “The numbers show that evictions perpetrated against the unhoused by Parks and Open Space Staff, Eugene Police Department, parking services and other city staff have actually increased since 2019, despite CDC recommendations.”

Specifically talking about the lead-up to the WAC, Dobrowolski said “in the eight months leading up to the WAC—an apt acronym for this event—the [City of Eugene] shut down the two sanctioned encampments where people could legally dwell.” Further, “at the camps’ population peak, the total residents in those two camps numbered nearly 500; the [City of Eugene] contracted with St. Vincent De Paul to offer about 80 beds to accommodate only a fraction of those forcefully shoved out of the camps.”

Moreover, she noted that SVdP doesn’t “meet the federal government’s standards for emergency shelters” and that living there includes “a prison-like setting with multiple bed checks, 24/7 cameras and nowhere to cook.” 

Around 5:45 p.m., after the speeches ended,  the crowd of about 50 activists and enraged community members began the march towards the Riverfront Festival happening simultaneously with the WAC. Along the route, some passersby—many of them seeming to be tourists—stared at the protesters as they passed by moving towards the Ferry Street Bridge. 

Passersby going to and from the DeFazio Bridge stop and watch the protest against the World Athletics Championships marches by on July 23, 2022. [James Croxton // Double Sided Media]

Once the crowd of 50 sign- and banner-wielding got near the bridge, the Eugene Police Department and Lane County Sheriffs who were doing crowd control formed a line, blocking the road, and exited their vehicles to immediately put on their riot gear. 

Passersby going to and from the DeFazio Bridge stop and watch the protest against the World Athletics Championships marches by on July 23, 2022. [James Croxton // Double Sided Media]
Five Eugene Police Department vehicles make a line and block both sides of Coburg Road. In between the three cars on the left are two officers wearing helmets and other riot gear. Behind them, an empty, traffic-absent road.
Officers with the Eugene Police Department quickly went from traffic management to forming a line and putting on their riot gear as the march neared moved forward on Coburg Rd. on July 23, 2022. [Robert Scherle // Double Sided Media]

Once blocked from going forward, the crowd made a right onto 3rd Street. From there, the march moved towards the 5th Street Alley where more speeches were made in front of the Nike store. 

In front of the store—which was guarded by at least four security guards—speeches were made that specifically called-out the company’s founder and chairman emeritus Phil Knight. 

Activists stand in front of the red-brick Nike store at 5th Street Alley. There are four central people: one in all black on the left holding a red flag with illegible text, a person wearing a grey top and dark pants speaking into a microphone, another person wearing a grey top and dark shorts, and then another person wearing a black v-neck longsleeve and blue jeans. They're standing on the sidewalk in front of the store. Behind them, a few of the store's white-shirted security guards stand in front of the doors.
Activists, in front of the Nike store at 5th Street Alley speak against Nike’s founder and chairman Phil Knight and the World Athletics Championship on July 23, 2022. [Robert Scherle // Double Sided Media]

Around this time, people within the march noticed a similar sight during protests: EPD’s drone buzzing above. 

The Eugene Police Department drone hovers above the march as they return to Campbell Park from protesting the World Athletics Championships on July 23, 2022. [James Croxton // Double Sided Media]

At 6:35 p.m., the march returned to Campbell Park where they had begun — along with the EPD drone above. At the park, they moved to a large shade-covered part of the grass and some members of the crowd spoke. 

One of them, a houseless youth in Eugene, read-off a poem that they had written, prior to the end of the rally around 6:45 p.m.

“I only know that what is happening is that it is sour
Rotting in sourness, decomposing
Opportunist bacteria consuming what’s left of our enigmatic proteins
Sour in having been turned against our sweetness
Now made bitter and our sweetness gone
The stark contrast makes clear
Our decay is permanent
Please let our corpses bring life anew”

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