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PORTLAND -- On two downtown city blocks, 'Occupy Portland' activists have created a small town with color-coded chores, a communication system, kitchens, even a library.

Passersby at the encampments at Lownsdale and Chapman Square Parks see a hodge-podge eruption of tents and tarps. Those living there - one organizer listed an ongoing population of 400 to 500 - have a different view.

Photos: Inside the 'Occupy Portland' camp

The Portland version of 'Occupy Wall Street' looks very different from the inside out.

Activists take turns pedaling a bicycle that powers computers.

What looks listless on television is misleading. Look for camp tenants with armbands of varying colors.

Blue armbands are peacekeepers. Medics wear red. Police liaisons wear wear yellow, media specialists wear orange. Purple is food, green legal issues and those who need sexual assault advocates look for pink.

As she spoke with KGW, Carrie Medina noted that she had the word 'social' on her media armband, noting her specialty.

The one throwback might be the free library. It uses the Dewey Decimal System.

What's different between 1960s and 2011, said Randy Foster, attacked by police at Berkeley standoffs during the Free Speech movement, is the technology.

The web and social media, said the Colton resident, have created transparency.

There was no computer, no email, the coverage that did exist was biased, there was no truth, he said. Now, the media's covering it truthfully.

Another big difference, he noted, was the relationship between police and protesters. They just knocked everybody down, he said, It was nothing like this. This is so peaceful.

Portland State history professor Chet Orloff said Oregon has had a reputation for decades as a largely conservative state, but the actions of 'Occupy Portland' continue a tradition of dissent.

In fact, some 20,000 people jammed the very same Lownsdale Square in the late 1800s arguing for more public works projects.

Historical photos show a familiar October, 2011, image -- protesters gathered around the elk statue between Chapman and Lownsdale parks in 1935. In a 1960s photo, helmeted cops with batons, lined up shoulder-to-shoulder, mow their way through Lownsdale Park.

Orloff, like Foster, is struck by the technology. But the professor sees a familiar pattern.

What you're seeing, through the advent of social media, he said, is the speeding up of the process, but the process is still by and large the same.

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