Do you approve of the way police have handled the Occupy Portland protests?
PORTLAND -- Nineteen Occupy Portland demonstrators were arrested in a clash with police Saturday night after the protesters set up tents in the downtown Park Blocks in defiance of city rules.
Sunday morning the group claimed on its website that 30 campers had stayed overnight and one tent remained as "a symbol our right to free speech and assembly as well as a request that the city end the camping ban and the marginalization of the un-housed."
The protests had started with a rally at Salmon Springs fountain around 2 p.m. Saturday, followed by a march through downtown Portland that ended in an area of the Park Blocks known as Shemanski Park.
The Occupy Portland website then declared, "We have a park!" It said "the kitchen is open" and invited the public to bring love, tents, sleeping bags and snacks. They began referring to the area as "Our Park."
Protest spokesman Jordan LeDoux told the Associated Press that having a camp provided a place for demonstrators to focus their efforts and engage the public.
No permits were filed for the march, according to Portland Police Sgt. Pete Simpson. He added no police presence was necessary until demonstrators blocked SW Broadway Avenue and interfered with TriMet traffic during the march.
Around 8:30 p.m., police said the park was officially closed and anyone trying to camp there overnight would be moved. A statement from the parks department also warned Occupy Portland that police would enforce park rules.
"Parks employees and police went into the park to enforce park rules against structures and were met with hostility and aggressive behavior," Simpson said. "Normal park hours are from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. but due to the unsafe conditions and aggressive behavior by some demonstrators, the parks were ordered closed early."
Timeline: Occupy Portland protests
Police wearing riot gear moved in and there was some pushing and shoving between the protesters and police, witnesses said.
Demonstrators were ordered to leave the area and Simpson said many left the park without incident, but some remained and were defiant with police.
Nineteen people who refused to leave or resisted were arrested, held with flex cuffs and hauled away by police. Fourteen were cited to appear in court on charges of criminal trespass and interfering with a police officer and released. Five were booked into Multnomah County Jail.
40-year-old Troy Anthony Thompson was charged with criminal mischief and criminal trespassing after he climbed onto the City Hall roof during the march.
Authorities last month evicted demonstrators who had camped in two downtown parks for more than a month. Those parks, Chapman and Lownsdale Squares, remained fenced for weeks afterward. Damage to the parks was estimated at nearly $86,000.