Occupy Portland protesters working with Portland Marathon organizers

Occupy Portland protesters working with Portland Marathon organizers

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by KGW.com Staff

kgw.com

Posted on October 6, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 7:17 AM

PORTLAND -- The group "Occupy Portland," which has set up protests in a spot reserved for the 2011 Portland Marathon, has been touting the cooperative efforts of marathon organizers.

"Occupy Portland plans to remain in Chapman Square indefinitely and also will spread tonight to the Park Blocks at PSU," a statement on the group's website read Saturday. "Occupiers at the PSU Park Blocks will be meeting on Sunday morning to plan a march back to Chapman Square to build support for our movement and reach out to citizens downtown."

The march was planned to coincide with the marathon's last runner crossing the finish line.

Portland Marathon spokeswoman Katie Edlin told KGW Saturday that protesters and marathon organizers were working well together, saying several people from both groups had breakfast together. She added that some of the protesters had decided to volunteer for the marathon.

"We are excited about cooperation with the Portland Marathon Committee to make this a great experience for all involved," the Occupy Portland statement read.

Photo gallery: 'Occupy Portland' protests

While the two parties were working with city leaders to find a compromise Friday afternoon over Portland's Chapman Square park, police said they were not expecting any major issues.

"The mood in the parks is relaxed, and people who are camping are otherwise following park rules," said Lt. Robert King with the Portland Police Bureau. "We will continuously monitor the camping situation, but are not expecting any large-scale issues."

About 500 demonstrators who spent the night in two downtown Portland parks said Friday morning they hoped to "coexist" with Portland Marathon participants and organizers, despite remaining in one of two parks reserved by permit for the marathon.

The protest group had left Lownsdale Square early Friday morning and concentrated in Chapman Square, but marathon organizers have permits for both parks through Sunday for the popular annual running event that boasts about 10,000 participants.

Interactive: Occupy Wall Street protests

In a press release late Friday morning, Marathon Director Les Smith added: "The Portland Marathon is confident they will reach a compromise that meets the needs of all parties."

"Occupy Portland" organizers held a brief press conference at 8:45 a.m. Friday to announce that they planned to remain in Chapman Square.

"We support Portland Marathon," said spokeswoman Kari Koch. "We do not want to disrupt their event. We want to accommodate both events. We plan to continue indefinitely."

Marathon Director Les Smith told KGW that the marathon used the streets around the parks, not the parks themselves. They just needed to keep people from getting in the way of runners.

"The main thing we have to be able to do is keep control so that spectators and other people don't crash the finish line and ruin everything for those people who have run 26.2 miles, or a half marathon, or what ever it may be," said Smith.

"If police ask us to leave, we will sit down," added protest organizer Lena Walker, "we will allow them to arrest us."

But police were not necessarily planning to make any arrests.

"While we have asked protesters to leave," said Sgt. Pete Simpson, "we do not plan to forcibly remove people from Chapman Square."

Two people were arrested overnight for using an "Occupy Portland" stencil to paint the slogan on some buildings and on the hood of a police car.

A crowd estimated by Portland Police of between 5,000 and 6,000 eventually massed over the course of Thursday afternoon. Protest organizers estimated Friday that 10,000 people had participated.

Background: Portland protest largest in U.S. on Thursday

"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 KGW.

"We are not the problem," another man said. "The problems are the bankers on Wall Street that destroyed this economy."

TriMet briefly halted Green and Yellow MAX service along the Portland Transit Mall on 5th and 6th avenues, due to the protesters.

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.

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