Portland police warn of delays as protesters plan march

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PORTLAND — The Occupy Wall Street movement that is in its third week in New York and has inspired demonstrations across the country is slated to spread to Portland on Thursday.

Portland demonstrators plan to meet at noon at Tom McCall Waterfront Park near the Burnside Bridge, then march through downtown Portland starting at 2:30 p.m. Then they’ll settle into a place to base their demonstration, which could continue indefinitely.

The ongoing demonstration in New York is generally unified by feelings of social and economic injustice, but has been slow to advocate a particular policy or target a particular institution. It adopted a declaration of grievances last week.

“They haven’t really targeted individual institutions or power centers,” said Portland State University sociology professor Robert Liebman. “It’s more a question of, how can people exercise voice outside of channels they think are either congested or corrupted?”

Similarly, those organizing Portland’s planned march and rally say they’ll come up with a formal message later. They’re careful to say they’re speaking as individuals, because the group hasn’t reached a consensus on its own message yet.

That has also made it difficult for authorities to predict their actions or deal with organizers. The Portland Police Bureau has twice released statements saying it’s open to working with organizers of the event to clear a route for Thursday’s march.

On Wednesday, as participants met in a preparatory “general assembly,” police and Portland city officials again asked attendees to at least provide a route so officers could clear streets and work with transit officials to bypass the demonstration.

But the group decided late Wednesday not to seek a permit or submit a route in advance. Portland Police said they received a fax overnight declining to seek a permit.

“For best impact we will march in the streets and disrupt the city,” it read in part.

Police warned traffic and TriMet transit could be impaired downtown on Thursday. The bureau said it would offer updates through its PortlandPolice Twitter account the day of the march.