City of Portland Archives and Records Center. Portland 1969 Surveillance photo of Lloyd Marbet on SW Broadway at SW Yamhill (untrimmed edge)City of Portland Archives and Records Center. Portland 1969 Surveillance photo of Lloyd Marbet on SW Broadway at SW Yamhill (untrimmed edge)

An Officer Arrested Him for Selling the Willamette Bridge, Marbet Recalls

Lloyd Marbet strove for decades to limit the damage of nuclear technology, attending hearings, placing ballot measures before the voters, and, when other routes shut down, placing his body on the line in acts of civil disobedience. Marbet recalls how when he first moved to Portland in 1970, he got involved in the anti-war movement, having recently returned from serving in Vietnam himself. He sold the Willamette Bridge newspaper in front of the old Orpheum theater, documented in these slides that police investigators stored in scrapbooks they kept on activists. Marbet recalls how a motorcycle police officer told him he’d throw him in jail unless he stopped selling the newspaper.

He warned me, and, by god, he threw me in jail. I’m sitting in the heart of the old Portland Police building. They had a drunk tank in the basement where they put people behind bars. Across from me was an old drunk man, bruised all over like a prizefighter who’s had the worst fight in the world. He’s passed out on the bench. And the other guy in the drunk tank was this speed freak. Wired. He wouldn’t stop talking. I’m sitting in this drama, waiting to get bailed out, and all of a sudden—I’ll never forget this as long as I live—this old man starts to push himself up off the bench. He pushed himself up, and he’s sitting there, barely able to open his eyes. He’s looking at the speed freak, and he suddenly says, ‘You are the master of the unspoken word. But once it leaves your mouth, you are its slave.’ Then he collapsed back down on that bench and never said another goddamn word. I was privileged, privileged to witness that. Amazing things happen along the way.