Protesters against corporate greed in Portland, Oregon defied a midnight deadline to abandon an encampment at two adjacent city parks in a hours-long stand off with police.
Thousands of “Occupy Portland” protesters gathered peacefully at Lownsdale and Chapman Squares late Saturday night to protect the encampments and remained into Sunday morning.
Police in riot gear monitored the situation but did not move in to forcefully disperse the protesters. One person was arrested after throwing a firecracker at the police.
“This has regalvanized our movement,” Madison Dines told OregonLive.com. “We won.”
But the protesters could only delay the inevitable for so long.
After postponing the police for hours with a massive rally, the protesters’ numbers began to dwindle and they peacefully followed police orders to move out of the two downtown parks.
“It was almost like the fever broke,” said City Commissioner Nick Fish, who observed the demonstration. “And now we’re seeing people break down their camps and voluntarily move on.”
He added that members of “Occupy Portland” offered to donate time and money to help restore the park.
“That will make a nice bookend to the Occupy Portland movement,” Fish said.
Mayor Sam Adams on Thursday announced that the city would evict the protesters, saying that the “balance has tipped” at the demonstration.
“Since Occupy Portland began five weeks ago, I have been very clear in my objective: We must balance people’s rights to free speech, with keeping the city safe and moving,” he said. “From the beginning, behavior has mattered.”
“Occupy has had considerable time to share its movement’s messages with the public, but has lost control of the camps it created. The cost to the larger community is rapidly increasing.”
Adams spent Saturday trying to convince the protesters via Twitter to peacefully abandon their encampment.
“Occupy Portland” has touted its highly-organized peaceful protest. The group has even won the praise of some city officials, including the mayor, and Members of Congress. But the open and inclusive nature of the demonstration has attracted some troubled individuals.
In recent weeks, there have been multiple drug overdoses and numerous arrests for drug offenses and other crimes.
The Portland Police Bureau also claimed that some protesters were preparing for a violent confrontation with police by fashioning makeshift weapons inside the encampment.
“Occupy Portland is a non-violent movement,” the group said in response to the claim. “It has always been a non-violent movement. It will continue to be a non-violent movement. Claims that we are organizing massive numbers of people from other cities, including anarchists, to confront police action violently are false. The Portland Police have been engaging for the last several weeks in a campaign to defame and confuse the message of our movement by attributing the actions and statements of individuals to the movement as a whole, and they continue to do so.”
“Any one that is engaging in violent resistance is doing so in direct contradiction to the values outlined by the Portland General Assembly, and in doing so is by definition not representing Occupy Portland.”
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