Local organizers are planning a nonviolent one-day “Occupy Vancouver” event Saturday, including a march and a rally at Esther Short Park, to “show this nation that we are aware of the injustices,” in the words of organizer Dan Walker, and to show solidarity with the October 15 International Day of Occupation.
“This is not a movement against authority, this is not a movement against police, this is a peaceful movement of awareness,” Walker stressed on his Facebook page.
Planning for the event began last Saturday, two days after thousands of people thronged the streets of downtown Portland in an Occupy Portland march and demonstration that continued Tuesday with protesters camped out in two downtown parks.
The Vancouver event is scheduled to begin at noon and continue until 3 p.m. Walker said the route of the march is still being decided. “So far, it sounds like it will be kept to the sidewalks so it doesn’t disturb traffic,” he said.
Vancouver Police Commander Scott Bieber said the marchers are not required to notify police or obtain a permit “if they’re going to walk on the sidewalk and obey all the traffic laws.”
City spokeswoman Barbara Ayres said that as of Tuesday, organizers had not applied for a permit for the use of Esther Short Park.
Walker said the city’s website states that Esther Short Park is a venue for free speech and no permit is required as long as the rally doesn’t conflict with other events at the park.
That’s accurate, said Jan Bader, program and policy development manager for the city.
“It’s an expressive activity, and we don’t require a special events permit for expressive activities,” she said. “We would like to know in advance that it’s going to occur, but we can’t require them to provide us with information about the event.”
Camping at Esther Short Park is not allowed, she added.
Walker, a Vancouver resident who works as an Internet service provider support technician for Integra Telecom, first joined a discussion about holding a Vancouver rally last weekend via Facebook. “I noticed there wasn’t a website, so I took charge of the website and registered the domain,” he said.
A small group has held two planning meetings at Esther Short Park and plans to hold another Wednesday.
“At the first two meetings, there weren’t that many people,” Walker said, but now that word is getting out, interest is growing, including across the river in Portland. “A lot of people at the Portland movement live in Vancouver,” he said. “There’s word that people may cross over.”
As of Tuesday, about 200 people had indicated via Facebook that they will attend, he said.
Vancouver organizers aren’t trying to compete with the Portland rally, Walker said. “It’s a march for awareness, to let people know we aren’t something completely separate from Portland.”
The Vancouver event “does have the same general message as Occupy Portland, the feeling that we’re tired of this corporate greed,” he said. “One of the bigger messages coming out of Portland is that people don’t want to see corporate sponsorship of elections.”
At this point, organizers aren’t anticipating that protesters will camp out in Vancouver, Walker said. “We are suggesting that anyone who wants to camp go over and support Portland. There’s talk of setting up a carpool.”
Walker said he’s a lifelong Democrat, but added, “It doesn’t really matter what political views you have, simply because the entire event is based around everyone having their own views but all coming together around a common cause.”
Kathie Durbin: 360-735-4523; http://www.twitter.com/col_politics; email@example.com.