Occupy Portland activists agree to clear street; another faction resists

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PORTLAND (AP) — Protesters in Portland supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement have split into two groups as authorities called for the clearance of a downtown street that has been closed by the rallies.

Some of the activists agreed to clear off Main Street, which divides two parks that have become a tent city since the movement took hold in Portland last week. But a handful of protesters remained in the road, some sitting on a hay bale, another on a chair.

“We’re going to take Main Street no matter what,” a protester shouted into a bullhorn, as a pair of police officers on bicycles stood watch nearby. “We are prepared to be arrested.”

But Occupy Portland activists distanced themselves from the faction in the street.

“All I want to say is that it is not the intention of Occupy Portland to continue to block the street,” protester Owen Sanders said.

Mayor Sam Adams has called for the reopening of the downtown street. He spoke to activists in Lownsdale and Chapman Square parks on Wednesday, then later tweeted: “OWS (Occupy Wall Street) is about economic inequity, not street closures.”

The protesters’ counterparts in New York have camped out in that city’s financial district for 3½ weeks, rallying against Wall Street companies and denouncing what the demonstrators see as corporate greed. Crowds supporting the cause have gathered in cities including Washington, D.C., Boston and Los Angeles, as well as abroad.

To the south of Portland in Salem, Oregon state troopers have warned 15 protesters camping near the Oregon state Capitol that they are in jeopardy of arrest on trespassing charges. The warnings went out Tuesday at the 10 p.m. closing time for Willson Park, which is part of the state parks land at the Capitol.

No arrests were reported as of Wednesday. Police and parks officials have said they would wait to see the reaction of the protesters.