PORTLAND - Protesters and police faced off on the Steel Bridge Thursday morning in what was expected to be a day-long series of Occupy Porland demonstrations.
Police arrived early in the morning and closed the Steel Bridge in anticipation of a planned rally. After 8 a.m., one group of protesters sat down as they reached a line of officers in riot gear. Police made a series of peaceful arrests of 25 of the seated protesters.
Raw Sky 8: Protesters march onto Steel Bridge
Raw Sky 8: Occupy arrest on Steel Bridge
Another group of about 100-200, including many holding union-related signes, stood behind the police line, chanting and holding their signs.
Police peacefully arrested the sitting protesters between 8 and 9 a.m. and shortly afterwards the remaining protesters walked off the bridge ramp and proceeded to Waterfront Park for a planned, unpermitted 10 a.m. rally.
MAX trains continued to run in both directions during the incident, as well as eastbound buses. Westbound lines 4, 8, 44 and 77 were detoured until the bridge was reopened about 9:15.
Police warned Portlanders and downtown businesses a group allied with Occupy Portland said it planned to forcibly shut down major, corporate banks Thursday.
According to the N17 group, there would be actions in which activists would prohibit business-as-usual at the banking institutions. The N17 (November 17) groups want banks to stop foreclosing on people's homes.
Police warned Portlanders that similar protests in other cities recently have included large groups entering and causing disruptions, protesters chaining themselves to structures, barring the doors and in some cases vandalism.
Officers said traffic tie-ups in the downtown core were also likely.
Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson told KGW Thursday morning closing the Steel Bridge was done primarily to make certain that mass transit was not affected by a protest. Pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers must choose another bridge, he said.
We will not allow them to take a bridge and shut it down. It will not happen today, he said.