PORTLAND Dozens of protesters attempted to occupy two downtown Portland parks Saturday night, but police told them staying overnight would result in jail time.
Occupy Portland demonstrators gathered on the paved areas in Lownsdale and Chapman Square Parks, where the grassy areas were still fenced off after the damage caused during similar protests last fall.
The protesters stayed past midnight, which is when the parks close. Soon afterward Portland police officers showed up and asked them to leave.
One officer was seen on an Occupy Portland video stream telling protesters they would spend time in jail if they decided not to obey police commands.
You all need to make your own decisions, the officer said. I have enough resources in the city to arrest everybody here tonight. And it s not cite and release. I will not cite and release.
Officers on the scene said the order came from Mayor Sam Adams. After that ultimatum, protesters pushed back to nearby sidewalks.
Protesting isn t about being convenient; it s about doing the right thing, an unidentified protester said. 'Occupy' is about occupying a place. Packing up and moving is a tactic that some people are using. I d rather stick.
Adams confirmed the order Sunday morning via Twitter, when asked if a park rule requires the threat of spending night in jail.
If you do not obey the park rules, yes, he replied.
He also said he had tried once before to suspend the park closure rules, but it led to an unsafe situation. Portland Police Lt. Robert King said the new approach was very clear.
There is no scenario that exists where there will be any structures, any camping. If people are going to come down here and they re going to break the law, they re going to go to jail, King said.
Many of the protesters remained on the sidewalks, but there were no reports of camping or trespassing in the park. At least one person was arrested, but police told KGW he was a minor arrested for climbing on the nearby elk statue. He was later released into his mother s custody.