Occupy Portland: Mayor Sam Adams orders camps cleared at 12:01 a.m. Sunday
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Mayor Sam Adams this morning gave the Occupy Portland encampment an eviction notice of 12:01 a.m Sunday.
At a press conference at City Hall, Adams, standing with Chief Mike Reese and City Commissioner Nick Fish, cited the rise in crime around the encampments in ordering demonstrators out of the squares.
He said Terry Schrunk Plaza, a federal park, will be cleared as well.
"Crime, especially reported assaults, has increased in the area," he said. "Occupy has had a considerable time to share its movement's message with the public but has lost control of the camps it has created."
Occupy Portland representatives also attended the news conference.
Occupy Portland volunteer Katy McNulty urged the mayor to negotiate a later deadline.
"I think we can obtain a peaceful transition, but in three days?" McNulty said. She said she's worried that the time allowed won't be enough to organize all campers - many who are vulnerable and unprepared to pick up and move.
In a tweet from Occupy Portland, one protester wrote: @OccupyPdx: He's giving us a heads up to finally clean house and regroup. SO WE NEED TO DO IT.
About 10:45 a.m. City Hall locked its doors and about six police officers gathered there as did about a couple of dozen protesters. People chanted and cheered while others played drums and a guitar outside the building.
"This has been a peaceful protest," said one of the demonstrators, Jenny Pepper, 26. She plans to stay in the camps past the deadline. "We have no guns, no knives, only our voices," she said.
Pepper said she came to Portland three weeks ago from Wyoming, looking for a job in the culinary industry when she decided to join Occupy Portland.
An officer watching City Hall sighed when asked about the coming weekend and the eviction plan.
"Everyone knows it has to end," said Officer West Helfrich. "Some people are going to make our job easy, and some will make it hard."
"We're not leaving!" yelled a passing protester in the faces of Helfrich and his colleague.
"That pretty much sums it up," said Helfrich. "You can't reason with people who are illogical, whether they're drunk or high or whatever."
The downtown squares will be closed temporarily beginning in the early hours of Sunday so officials can clear and restore them. They will be closed starting Nov. 13 "as long as necessary to repair the parks," city officials said. Once the squares reopen to the public, the mayor said the city will enforce all city laws in the parks and on the sidewalks.
Reese said he would not discuss the bureau's tactical plan for clearing the parks Sunday morning.
A Central Precinct sergeant has been tasked with drafting an immediate action plan to guide officers on the park closure. Police have studied other major cities' handling of the movement. Hundreds of officers would be called in to help clear the two downtown blocks, and ensure once people are out that tents don't return.
Portland police are preparing for anything, with rumors swirling that campers are collecting rocks to throw at officers to campers advertising for plywood on Craigslist to serve as shields.
But the mayor and chief said they hope the park closures will be peaceful.
"We're going to be very deliberate and methodical," Reese said.
"We will be prepared for any reasonable eventuality," Adams said. "We will be prepared to make arrests. My preference would be we don't have to. That is part of the reason we are being communicative about this right now."
Adams said he did not want to delay the closure of the camp any longer. Police have responded to two recent overdoses at the camps. He said he worries someone may die there. "I cannot wait for someone to use the camp as camouflage to inflict bodily harm on others."
"I want to make clear: this action is not an action against the Occupy Portland movement," Adams said.
Adams said that from the beginning, his personal view was that the Occupy movement would have to evolve to realize its future potential. "My hope is it will flourish in its next phase ... with a focus on economic justice, not Port-a-Potties and tents."
Reese spoke of how proud he was of the police who he said have acted in a "professional and restrained manner, even in face of conflict and confrontation."
Adam's announcement came about the same time that the Portland Police Bureau announced that officers had responded to a drug overdose Wednesday at the Occupy Portland encampment.
Sgt. Pete Simpson, spokesman for the bureau, said that at 9:44 p.m. Wednesday officers found a man in one of the tents who was blue and not breathing. Officers began performing CPR on the man and called for medical assistance. The man was revived and taken to an area hospital.
Simpson said that police learned that the man had earlier purchased heroin at the encampment. He also said that nearly 100 people gathered around the tent during the incident and many did not follow police directions to allow medical personnel to reach the patient.
On Wednesday November 9, 2011, Portland Police officers working the Occupy Portland encampments at Chapman and Lownsdale Square Parks, responded to the report of a man suffering from a drug overdose in a tent at Chapman Square. Officers found the man in a tent and he was blue and not breathing. Officers immediately began performing CPR and called for medical to respond. Medical personnel responded and were able to revive the man then transported him to an area hospital. Officers learned that the man used heroin purchased within the encampments.
During this police and medical response, nearly 100 people were gathered around the tent and not following police direction to allow medical personnel room to work on the patient. Officers worked with the Occupy Portland Peace & Safety Team to assist in moving people away from the patient.
The incident was the second overdose in as many days in the camps.
During the mayor's press conference, a crowd of protesters gathered at the encampment to watch the announcement on a computer live stream. Four Portland police officers were patrolling nearby.
Mike Withey, a 46-year-old Occupy volunteer, yelled: "This place is a mess! Somebody grab a bag and clean up!"" He recently proposed that campers move to an indoor space.
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"We're not going to quit," Withey said. "But this is pretty much a homeless camp. We need to move to indoor space so our movement can occupy professionally. But I imagine we'll be split; I think some people will want to stay and fight."
An Occupy Portland committee was to meet at noon to talk about what the mayor says.
When people at the camp heard about the eviction, some started shouting: "We are home! Why do we need to go home?" and "Sam Adams wins!"
A farmer from eastern Washington walked through the area with his wife and three young daughters.
"As organized as they are, they're not sustainable," said Brenton Roy, who was visiting his brother in Portland for the weekend. "As much as you might love free speech, it's about to get colder."
Adams closed the press conference with a plea to the public to help solve the murder of 13-year-old Julio Cesar Marquez, who was killed Monday.
As the news sunk in, Occupy Portland volunteer Gayle Groff, 32, said she planned to address the noon meeting and suggest that people stay put over the weekend.
"Whoever can come down Saturday and squat is invited," Groff said. "Creating a perimeter of supporters is key."
The group plans to look into various options. They include moving to an inside space, such as foreclosed homes, or fortifying the camp and staying put.
Also Thursday, Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis personally delivered a bill to Occupy Portland for $1,546.52, the estimated damage to two Gresham police cars that were parked near the encampment on Tuesday.
The patrol cars were allegedly vandalized by a person affiliated with the movement who was building a shelter at the site while the Gresham officers were inside the nearby Multnomah County Courthouse testifying on a case. The cars' windows were smashed with a hammer. An arrest was made.
Bemis and Gresham Police Chief Craig Junginger hand delivered the invoice to the Occupy Portland information booth at around 9:30 a.m.
"It seems patently unfair that Gresham residents, the vast majority of whom are 99-percenters, should have to pay to repair the damage caused by a member of your movement," Bemis said in a cover letter attached to the invoice.
"I have been sympathetic to many of the important issues the 'Occupy' movement has raised regarding wealth concentration and corporate abuses threatening the middle class," Bemis said in the letter. "While I firmly believe in the Constitutional freedom of expression, it seems to me that the remnants of the movement still present in downtown Portland are doing more harm than good at this point."
The invoice and cover letter also included repair estimates from a local body shop.
Bemis noted that news accounts have indicated the movement has about $16,000 on hand.
He said he hopes the issue will be raised at the movement's general assembly.
-- The Oregonian
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