UPDATE: Occupy Portland heads for a showdown

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Updated: November 13, 2011, 3:06 AM

 

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As of 2:57 a.m.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Anti-Wall Street protesters and their supporters flooded a city park area in Portland early Sunday in defiance of an eviction order, and authorities elsewhere stepped up pressure against the demonstrators, arresting nearly two dozen.

As many as 3,000 people converged on two adjacent downtown Portland parks after city officials set a midnight Saturday deadline to disperse.

But more than two hours later, the protesters were still there and their supporters were streaming in. Throngs spilled out into the streets adjacent to camp, tying up traffic.

Organizers said they hope enough people will join them to make it difficult if not impossible for police to carry through on any eviction.

“Occupy the street,” one organizer said through a bull horn. “Remain peaceful and aware. We have strength in holding the streets.”

Some of the protesters referred to police in a chant: “Do not attack. We’re not violent.”

Clusters of police with nightsticks and helmets had been positioned on area corners but their numbers seemed to dwindle in the early hours, and there were no signs of any action directed toward the campers.

“We’ll take action that’s appropriate, when it’s appropriate,” police spokesman Lt. Robert King told The Associated Press.

“We are not going to engage in confrontation for a misdemeanor,” he said, noting that is the legal violation for remaining in the park after midnight.

It appeared earlier that about 200 campers planned to get arrested. But police action seemed less likely after the crowds swelled the parks in the early morning hours.

On Saturday, Occupy Portland protesters dismantled large sections of their encampment, but dozens of tents remained after midnight.

Mayor Sam Adams ordered the camp shut down, citing unhealthy conditions and the encampment’s attraction of drug users and thieves.

Demonstrators rallied Saturday evening as organizers said they hope radical elements don’t use violence to overshadow the movement’s message of peaceful resistance to income inequality and what they see as corporate greed.

But police prepared for a possible clash, warning that dozens of anarchists may be planning a confrontation with authorities. Officers seized pieces of cement blocks Friday, saying they were told some demonstrators had plans to use them as weapons against police. They said they believe some demonstrators are building shields and trying to collect gas masks.

For the second time in as many days, Oakland city officials warned protesters Saturday that they do not have the right to camp in the plaza in front of City Hall and face immediate arrest.

The eviction notices come as officials across the country urged an end to similar gatherings in the wake of three deaths in different cities, including two by gunfire.

Demands for Oakland protesters to pack up increased after a man was shot and killed Thursday near the encampment site.

“Your activities are injurious to health, obstruct the free use of property, interfering with the comfortable enjoyment of (Frank Ogawa Plaza), and unlawfully obstruct the free passage or use of a public park or square,” the notice read.

Oakland officials first issued the eviction notice Friday after first pleading with protesters to leave the encampment.

Police officials have said a preliminary investigation suggested the shooting resulted from a fight between two groups of men at or near the encampment. Investigators do not know if the men in the fight were associated with Occupy Oakland, but protesters said there was no connection between the shooting and the camp.

The shooting occurred the same day a 35-year-old military veteran apparently committed suicide in a tent at a Burlington, Vt., Occupy encampment. Police said a preliminary investigation showed the veteran fatally shot himself in the head. They said the death raised questions about whether the protest would be allowed to continue.

In Salt Lake City, police arrested 19 people Saturday when protesters refused to leave a park a day after a man was found dead inside his tent at the encampment.

The arrests came after police moved into the park early in the evening where protesters had been ordered to leave by the end of the day. About 150 people had been living in the camp there for weeks.

Authorities in Denver forced protesters to leave a downtown encampment and arrested four people for interfering with officers who removed illegally pitched tents, said police spokesman Sonny Jackson.

Jackson said police had advised protesters since Wednesday that their tents in Civic Center Park and on a nearby sidewalk were illegal.

Violence marked the protest in San Francisco Saturday where police said two demonstrators attacked two police officers in separate incidents during a march.

Police spokesman Carlos Manfredi said a protester slashed an officer’s hand with a pen knife while another protester shoved an officer, causing facial cuts. He said neither officer was seriously hurt, and the assailants couldn’t be located.

Meanwhile, in Southern California a small group of protesters braved soggy weather on Saturday to gather for the first time under the banner of Occupy Inland Empire. Members of Occupy movements in Fontana, Redlands, Riverside, and other nearby towns marched past banks and in front of San Bernardino City Hall in what they called a “visibility action,” The Sun newspaper reported.

As of 12:26 a.m.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Dozens of anti-Wall Street protesters are defying a city order to abandon their encampment in two adjacent Portland parks.

The Occupy movement faced a midnight deadline Saturday to break camp or face possible arrest, but nearly a half hour after that an estimated 200 remained.

Up to 1,000 supports were nearby but many of them moved from the parks to sidewalks, where it is legal to congregate.

Clusters of police with nightsticks and helmets are positioned on area corners but there are no signs of any action directed toward the campers.

Earlier in the day, the demonstrators dismantled large sections of their encampment; about 100 tents are still standing.

Mayor Sam Adams ordered the camp shut down, citing unhealthy conditions and the encampment’s attraction of drug users and thieves.

As of 12:04 a.m.

PORTLAND (AP) — Tension are increasing at the Occupy Portland encampment where protesters faced a midnight deadline to disperse or face possible police arrest.

In a steady drizzle, up to 200 campers were at the site minutes before midnight and appeared ready to face the promised arrests.

And the numbers of their supporters have been increasing with as many as 1,000 people now milling around the encampment.

For the past couple of hours people in the camp have been giving speeches, telling protesters what to do in case of arrest.

Meanwhile, the camp has been doling out food with one tent has been serving coffee and burritos.

Earlier in the day, the demonstrators dismantled large sections of their encampment amid a heavy police presence before the deadline to clear out of two downtown parks following the month-long protest. Still, about 100 tents remained standing late Saturday.

Demonstrators marched through downtown before an evening potluck, and demonstrators said they hope radical elements don't use violence to overshadow the movement's attempt to peacefully demonstrate its right to assemble.

But police with nightsticks and helmets were prepared for a possible clash, warning that dozens of anarchists may be planning a confrontation with authorities. Officers seized pieces of cement blocks Friday, saying they were told some demonstrators had plans to use them as weapons against police. They said they believe some demonstrators are building shields and trying to collect gas masks.

On Saturday, police released photos of wooden pallets with nails sticking outward and other "improvised weapons" they say they've seized. Social service workers have gone through the camp offering housing and other assistance to people without a place to stay when the park closes. Demonstrators have struggled to deal with a rising population of homeless people and others, some suffering from mental illness, drawn to the camp for free food, shelter, safety and camaraderie.

Protest organizers have pleaded for peace and said anyone who acts violently does not represent the movement. Organizers also plan to pass out information about safe places to stay for the night and get basic first aid if they're injured in a potential clash, and some distributed phone numbers for the National Lawyers Guild in case demonstrators are arrested.

"It looks like they're (protesters) doing the right thing. I hope it all works out," Said Gordon Bogusch, 88, of Portland, who was showing support for the protesters Saturday night, accompanied by his daughter and son-in-law, Susan and Ralph Prows.

"The movement is not over," Ralph said. "People are hurting and out of work."

Dozens of occupy protesters from cities such as Seattle and Salem, Ore., said they've come to Portland to show solidarity.

Around midnight, police in riot gear in clusters of about a dozen were on corners in the area but they have made no signs of moving in on the campers.not bit show of force.

Lines of bicyclists were riding around the park, some with lights on, to show support.

Gabriel Rola, a 41-year-old unemployed chef and musician who has been staying at the camp for two weeks, said he hopes police don't use force.

"If somebody gets hurt, it's going to be the shot heard round the world," he said.

Demonstrators plan to regroup Sunday in Pioneer Courthouse Square — another downtown plaza where crews recently erected the city's large Christmas tree.

Both during the afternoon and again at night, lawyers explained to some protesters what their rights are under the law and how to react should they choose to force arrest. Police have said they'll work to accommodate anyone who wishes to be peacefully be arrested by defying the park's curfew.

Later, demonstrators danced in the rain to rock and techno music blaring from speakers in Terry Schrunk Plaza, a federally owned park across the street from the two city parks that have served as home to about 300 people.

Mayor Sam Adams has ordered the camp shut down, citing unhealthy conditions and the encampment's attraction of drug users and thieves. Paramedics treated two people suffering from apparent drug overdoses, one on Friday and one on Saturday, bringing to four the number of nonfatal overdoses inside the camp, police said.

The harder line from the city comes as leaders across the country feel increasing pressure to shut down Occupy encampments. One man died in a shooting in Oakland, Calif., and a 35-year-old military veteran apparently shot himself to death in a tent in Burlington, Vt. Another man was found dead from a suspected combination of drugs and carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a propane heater inside a tent in Salt Lake City.

"I cannot wait for someone to die," Adams said Thursday. "I cannot wait for someone to use the camp as camouflage to inflict bodily harm on others."

The Portland encampment went up Oct. 6 after a march in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement protesting income inequality and what demonstrators see as corporate greed. They set up an intricate village with free food, medical care, political discussions and a library.

But it also became a magnet for people not originally part of the movement. Sanitary conditions worsened and businesses complained of theft.

City officials' patience began growing thin when activists sought to occupy another park on Oct. 30. Police dragged away 27 of the protesters when they refused to leave.

Protesters marched over two bridges on Nov. 2, but declined to inform police about the march route. That forced officers on bicycles, motorcycles and in squad cars to follow and block traffic for more than an hour. An officer was pushed into a moving bus sometime near the end of the march, police said. He received minor injuries.