Hundreds expected for Occupy Vancouver event Saturday

March planned; route to be revealed Saturday morning

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

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At least 200 people are expected to turn out Saturday for Vancouver’s version of Occupy Wall Street nonviolent protest and march.

Occupy Vancouver’s organizers have planned a 1.5-mile march, which begins and ends at downtown’s Esther Short Park, 301 W. Eighth St. They would not, however, release a map of their route late Friday to the media, police and city officials who requested it.

The map will be available Saturday morning at the park.

Organizer Reed Rotondo said organizers were concerned that releasing the map before Saturday might discourage some people from coming to the Vancouver Farmers Market, Esther Short Park or other downtown locations, and might even enable counter protesters to impede the march or harass marchers.

About 20 organizers turned out for the event’s last planning meeting Friday. They pledged to clean up garbage and planned to appoint peacemakers to keep demonstrators from blocking traffic or violating the event’s nonviolent message.

“If they see people get aggressive or yell at cops, they intervene and talk them off the ledge,” Rotondo said. “They are there to keep it positive.”

Organizer Craig Murphy said he plans to bring trash bags to the event Saturday to clean up after demonstrators and other visitors.

“Cigarette butts sit in this park for seven to eight years,” Murphy said. “I’m going to pick up cigarette butts. This park is going to look better when we leave than when we came.”

Vancouver Police Cmdr. Amy Foster attended the meeting Friday and discouraged protesters from marching at major intersections such as Mill Plain Boulevard in order to prevent injuries.

The demonstration’s organizers have said they don’t plan to set up a camp in Vancouver as has happened in other cities, including New York City and Portland. They are organizing a carpool for those who would like to camp with protesters in Portland.

“We are not well prepared for a long-term occupation as Portland is,” Rotondo said. “I know people who live in Vancouver may want to occupy, but we are not prepared for that.”

Demonstrations in Portland have continued since last week. Occupy Wall Street started Sept. 17 in New York City.

Saturday’s event has been organized in solidarity with the International Day of Occupation on Oct. 15.

Organizer Stephanie Rotondo said the group doesn’t have a permit for a public address system at the park’s bandstand Saturday to allow people to speak to the crowd. However, some protesters may bring bullhorns. People will speak at the event, but there is no structured agenda for that, Reed Rotondo said.

Organizer Dan Walker debuted a website for the movement on Oct. 8. Organizers, participants, supporters and detractors also have been communicating via Facebook and on Twitter using the #occupyvanwa hashtag.

As of Friday evening, more than 200 Facebook members had indicated on the event’s Facebook page that they plan to join the demonstration. More than 450 people “liked” the page.

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

Organizer Genny Kortes emphasized Friday that Saturday’s event in nonpartisan and shows discontent toward both political parties in Congress that have shown favoritism to corporations over the people they serve.

“This is about financial issues,” Kortes said. “It’s the lobbyists.”

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