Agree with Mayor Adams' decision to remove Occupy Portland encampments in city parks?
PORTLAND -- Portland Mayor Sam Adams announced at a Thursday morning press conference that the city will be closing down the Occupy Portland encampments early Sunday.
Later that evening, protesters shot of fireworks in the downtown parks as TV reporters did live shots nearby.
Earlier in the day, activists marched to City Hall following Adams' announcement and the doors of the building were locked as a safety precaution. One protester was arrested for allegedly taking off his clothes in public before the rally dispersed.
The mayor said the protesters need to clear out of Lownsdale and Chapman Squares by midnight Saturday, in order for the city to make repairs, clean up the parks and ensure the safety of everyone involved.
He added that the Occupy Portland movement can still move forward with speeches and other events, as long as they obtain the necessary permits.
"We have sought to be as supportive as we possibly can, but I cannot wait for someone to die in the camp. I cannot wait for someone to use the camp as camouflage to inflict bodily harm on someone else," Adams said.
Adams said Portland police and federal officers will be working together to end the encampments, including any protesters remaining at Terry Schrunk Plaza.
Occupy Portland responded to the announcement, saying they had not yet completed plans for their next action, but that their protest would continue.
"What the City of Portland has failed to prove, however, is that the protesters of Occupy Portland are direct threats to public safety and economic activity.
The occupation will continue to exist and operate in a variety of formats. Planning for advancements of Occupy Portland have long been underway, but specific announcements will only come when appropriate."
Police chief Michael Reese said the bureau has drafted a tactical plan that will be "deliberate and methodical" but he would not give specific details. ""We are hoping for a very peaceful resolution," Reese said.
That may include arrests, but Reese said the Occupy Portland campers will get a great deal of support and guidance ahead of time to prepare them for the change.
Adams and Reese both said that crime problems have climbed in the area in and around the camps, prompting them to create this deadline.
"In the past few days, the balance has tipped," Adams said. "We have experienced two very serious drug overdoses where individuals required immediate resuscitation in the camp."
Adams also cited Thursday's arrest of a man in the Occupy Portland camp who allegedly made a Molotov Cocktail bomb and threw it at Portland's World Trade Center, igniting a small fire.
"Occupy has had considerable time to share its movement’s messages with the public, but has lost control of the camps it created," Adams said. "The cost to the larger community is rapidly increasing."
Portland police so far have spent around $316,000 on overtime patrols for the camps since the initial march on October 6 to support the Occupy Wall Street protests in NYC. The two downtown camps include about 300 tents and several hundred protesters.
The protest initially had the support of Adams and other city officials. Earlier this week, an open letter from Adams requested protesters reign in the growing criminal elements including vandalism, disorderly conduct and alcohol and drug use.
Protesters had mixed reactions to Adams' announcement but most seemed defiant.
"I am no more disappointed than I am hopeful,” one woman told KGW. “We are here to show the city we are here to be peaceful while still maintaining our message.”
"Hell no, I'm not vacating," said Joseph Gordon, 31, who left Cincinnati for Portland before the protests began. "They can come in here and find me."
A 26-year-old woman named Emma said she wouldn't leave, either. "If we break up the tribes, that leaves us without any other options," she said. "The only power we have is in numbers."