PORTLAND -- Organizers of Occupy Portland said an unsavory crowd has settled into their encampments in Lownsdale and Chapman Square parks.
An emergency Occupy Portland meeting was held Saturday night and into Sunday morning, according to a statement released by the group.
This followed two new arrests at the encampments. On Sunday, police arrested one man for menacing a security guard and another man was arrested for reckless burning and disorderly conduct.
In addition, police said someone threatened a pedestrian with a knife and there was an incident at the Pizza Schmizza near one of the parks. Protesters became enraged when Pizza Schmizza ran out of breadsticks to accompany their order. They threatened to assault employees and vandalize the restaurant, said Lt. Robert King with the Portland Police Bureau.
In addition, officials with Portland Parks and Recreation confirmed Monday that they will close the remaining public toilet Tuesday and campers will have to rely on porta-potties. No park employees will be working in or cleaning the occupied parks, either.
The latest Occupy Portland statement read, in part, that at the meeting they discussed, at length, the issues surrounding illicit drug use, violent behavior, and otherwise disruptive conduct that was being exhibited by some of the people camping at Chapman and Lownsdale Squares.
Many of the occupiers present at the meeting expressed exasperation and frustration at what they felt was a dangerous distraction being perpetuated by people who use the area as a free drug space, the statement said, In an ongoing survey of occupiers there has been an almost universal consensus that safety and violence are primary concerns.
The statement said some of the concerns had been brought forward by police and parks officials. Attempts to resolve them internally were failing. There was talk of obtaining a permit to allow exclusions.
A General Assembly meeting would be needed to take a specific course of action but the time has come to deal with elements which are a danger to themselves and others.
Gina Ronning, an Occupy Portland activist who organizes public safety efforts, told KGW that the presence of sex offenders and drug abusers were a real problem now in the parks. She was worried that the movement at the park would continue to grow, without her knowing the dozens of people flooding into the camp. With the help of a microphone, she led a call-and-response chant and rally specifying the problems at the parks.
Wendy Hamilton told KGW that there was rampant drug use and she has witnesses four violent assaults. She's leaving the camp.
More and more homeless people came in and the angry street kids, anarchists, I guess you could call them, she said, And they have a lot of really negative messages. I've seen poster boards with terrible signs that have nothing to do with the movement.
KGW cameras also caught several rats scurrying away from one of the parks. Video shows a man cutting down branches from a tree, explicitly discouraged by Occupy Portland organizers. Another man simply stood in the middle of the intersection until police arrived.
You're making us look bad, an activist yelled at the man, who yelled back while slamming a stick onto the pavement.