Police expect peaceful Occupy Vancouver protest

Officers won’t be added to schedule for Saturday event

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

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Occupy Vancouver

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Vancouver city officials say they don’t plan to beef up their police force Saturday in anticipation of the city’s spinoff of the Occupy Wall Street nonviolent protest and march.

“At this point, we anticipate a peaceful expression of people’s views,” said city police spokesperson Kim Kapp. “We are not anticipating any issues.”

The police force Saturday, when demonstrators congregate from noon to 3 p.m. at Esther Short Park, 301 W. 8th Street, will be the same size as on any other Saturday, Kapp said.

The police department contacted the demonstration’s organizers Wednesday to find out plans for the event.

“The mayor and police chief reached out to ensure the Farmers Market wouldn’t be interrupted, and it’s a peaceful demonstration,” said Barbara Ayers, city spokesperson.

The Vancouver Farmers Market, which operates from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the corner of Esther and 6th streets, is the only other event scheduled at the park Saturday.

Although the route of the march had not yet been decided, Occupy Vancouver organizer Dan Walker assured police that organizers would encourage protestors to follow all city laws. City ordinance allows demonstrations at the park without a permit but prohibits camping.

“It has not been decided what path it’s going to take,” Walker said. “We did, however, let (police Cmdr.) Amy Foster know we would provide them with the path Saturday morning before the event takes place.”

The demonstration’s organizers have said they don’t plan to camp in Vancouver as protestors in other cities, including New York City and Portland, have done. They are organizing a carpool for those who would like to camp with protestors in Portland. Demonstrations in Portland have continued since last week. Occupy Wall Street in New York City started Sept. 17.

City officials’ communication with the organizers led them to the decision not to augment Saturday police staffing, Ayers said. Contingency plans are in place if police feel they need help.

About 30 people are organizing the event Saturday in solidarity with the International Day of Occupation on Oct. 15. They were scheduled to meet Wednesday evening to decide on the path of the march, speeches and other details. So far, organizers anticipate having speakers at the park’s bandstand Saturday to allow people to speak to the crowd, Walker said.

Walker debuted a website for the movement on Oct. 8 at www.occupyvancouverusa.org. Organizers, participants, supporters and detractors also have been communicating via Facebook at www.facebook.com/#!/occupyvancouverwashington and Twitter.

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 150 Facebook members had indicated on the event’s page that they plan to join in on the demonstration. More than 300 people “liked” the page.

There are 1,523 cities worldwide that have or will host an “Occupy Together” demonstration to protest corporate greed, according to the Occupy Wall Street website. The movement originated in New York City.

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://www.twitter.com/Col_Trends; http://www.facebook.com/ColTrends; paris.achen@columbian.com