8 Occupy Portland protesters arrested
PORTLAND — Police arrested eight people before dawn Thursday and reopened a downtown Portland street blocked during the past week by protesters supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Officers moved in quickly, and traffic was flowing a half-hour later.
Many of the protesters had decided the day before to go along with a request by Mayor Sam Adams to give up the street that divides two downtown parks where a settlement of more than 300 tents and tarps sprang up.
Camping in city parks is illegal, but Adams said there were no plans to break up Occupy Portland.
“We are not moving against the camps,” Adams said Thursday.
He said he and other mayors dealing with such occupations are making “practical day-to-day decisions about keeping the peace, protecting people’s legal rights to freedom of expression and at the same time keeping this city and all cities moving.”
Adams crossed a street from City Hall to one of the parks on Wednesday afternoon to tell protesters it was time to reopen the street. The closure has disrupted traffic for thousands of people, including riders along several bus lines that were rerouted.
Later in the evening, 88 percent of the participants in a general assembly at the encampment voted to leave the street, protester Jordan LeDoux said.
That was slightly short of the 90 percent consensus the protesters have agreed will be the threshold for decisions. But it accounted for the quiet on Thursday morning as police took away the few people who stayed in the street.
LeDoux said the police action would clear the way for protesters to focus on the object of their protest — the concentration of wealth and power in the country.
Police Lt. Robert King said those arrested would face misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and interfering with officers.
“We all feel good we’re able to get the city moving again,” King said. “We’ve got thousands of cars, buses, bikes and pedestrians who use this every day to go to work or move through the downtown core.”
The stretch of Main Street is a landmark in Portland.
In the middle, dividing traffic, is a fountain topped with a statue of an elk, the gift of an early Portland mayor.
After the police cleared the street, a “Fight Greed” placard remained in its antlers.
The number of lodgings in the two blocks has more than doubled since a crowd police initially estimated at several thousand marched through downtown on Oct. 6.
In Salem, protesters who had been told by state troopers that they couldn’t camp at a park next to the state Capitol moved their tents to a parking lot across the street.
They planned to spend the night walking through the park, keeping moving to avoid arrest.
Occupy Portland march peaceful, arrest-free
PORTLAND, Ore. — Officials in Phoenix are watching other cities across the U.S. as they prepare for the Occupy Phoenix protests, which are scheduled to begin October 15.
Protests were held in several major cities around the country last week, the largest being in Portland, Oregon. Protesters started gathering just after noon on Thursday at Portland’s Waterfront Park beneath the Burnside Bridge. At around 2:30 p.m., thousands walked city streets to Pioneer Courthouse Square, which they occupied for about an hour before marching through city streets to two city parks.
“The corporations have taken our futures away from us and we’re just not going to stand by and let that happen,” one protester told a reporter from KGW.
“We are not the problem,” another man said. “The problems are the bankers on Wall Street that destroyed this economy.”
The protest prompted complaints from some business leaders. Many opted to close early due to the rally. Others, like the downtown Apple store, stayed open but workers were urged to skip their breaks and stay inside. Wells Fargo Bank hired extra security officers over concerns it could be a target.
“If you listen to their conversations, there’s no real leadership. They’re leading by committee so understanding what they want or are are trying to achieve, I don’t think anyone does right now,” said William Palmer, chairman of the downtown retail council.
TriMet briefly halted Green and Yellow MAX service along the Portland Transit Mall on 5th and 6th avenues, due to the protesters.
The occupation protest is inspired by the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, now in their third week, which have spurred other similar demonstrations in major cities like Boston and Los Angeles, all to protest corporate greed.
By Thursday afternoon, nearly 7,000 people had “liked” the Occupy Portland Facebook page. A similar page for Occupy Salem noted that people plan to take over a park next to the Capitol Monday.
In New York, 700 people were arrested over the weekend marching over the Brooklyn Bridge. The protesters range from college students worried about their job prospects to middle-age workers who have been recently terminated.
Google Map: Occupy Events across U.S.
Occupy Portland march peaceful, arrest-free
The Occupy Portland event that drew several thousand people on a protest march through downtown Portland may have disrupted mass transit schedules, but it was otherwise peaceful and without incident.
Oregon Public Broadcasting said no arrests or other serious incidents have been reported as of Friday morning. Tweets using the hash tag #OccupyPortland indicated the protest remained peaceful Thursday night and into Friday.
The Business Journal’s Matthew Kish on Thursday reported that the event began with 2,000 protesters gathering for a rally at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, though police officials said the crowd was expected to swell to 5,000 as it advanced toward Pioneer Courthouse Square.
Though the event was meant to mirror the Occupy Wall Street events in New York City in calling for more accountability from elected officials, government and corporate America, Kish reports that the Thursday’s protestors offered a mixed-bag of causes, from world peace and the federal tax code to veganism and Coke Zero.