On Saturday night, Portland Mayor Sam Adams ordered Occupy Portland participants to relinquish their park encampment due to complaints that the makeshift city provided a haven for criminals and drug addicts.
The presence of homeless and drug-dependent individuals at occupations around the country has been cause for alarm for many who think they should be excluded. But for many of these downtrodden individuals, their local occupation represents the first chance for a free hot meal and relatively safe shelter they’ve had in a long time.
Determined to exercise their First Amendment rights and stand-up for their all-inclusive practices, members of Occupy Portland stayed up into the wee hours of the morning discussing how to handle the impending interactions with Portland Police.
Reinforcements flooded into the park Sunday morning, hoping to impede the eviction order with their sheer numbers alone. At one point overnight, the crowd swelled to thousands. Protesters conceded ground slowly but peacefully as police officers in riot gear enforced the eviction notice. By dawn, only a small percentage of the original camp held their ground.
“The camp is a shadow of what it was before Saturday,” reports Christian Science Monitor. “A large segment of the campers consisted of homeless people who had been drawn to the free food and shelter offered by Occupy Portland. They are gone, after outreach workers went through the camp to help them find shelter elsewhere. And as the Saturday midnight eviction deadline neared, protesters themselves began dismantling tents.
“Around 4 a.m., dozens of police formed a line across from demonstrators who had poured into the street. Protesters facing them appeared to be in festive spirits with some banging on drums and plastic pails, another clanging a cowbell while others danced in the streets as a man juggled nearby.”
By 9:30 am most of the protesters had complied with police orders to clear the street, and some even began dismantling tents themselves.
Mayor Adams claims he is “putting his foot down” regarding Occupy Portland but that enforcing the order will take some time. The Occupy Portland website gives no indication that participants feel that their demonstration has been extinguished. A blog post dated November 12th announces plans for the Occupiers to apply for a position on the City Council.
“Bring all of your grievances and tell them how you can do better,” reads the post. “If anyone gets hired, we’ll be creating jobs in the community.”
Redgreenandblue reports that the up to 50 organizers physically remaining in the park were actively discussing the decision to move to Pioneer Square for a GA (and a peaceful solution to the standoff).
Image Credit: Flickr – igalko