#occupy protests violently dispersed in portland

protestors push police back on
3rd street saturday night. image: cbs news.

thousands of protestors lined the streets, cutting off almost every line of escape. dozens of police held formation, brandishing batons and flipping down the face shields on their riot helmets. some looked menacingly into the crowd. with one voice, the mob exclaimed their admonition to the officers:

"you're sexy! you're cute! take off your riot suit!"

 this was the scene in and around lownsdale and chapman squares last night as hundreds of police came to serve up mayor sam adams' 12:01 a.m. eviction notice to the stragglers who still inhabited the park blocks between salmon and madison downtown. literally thousands gathered in the middle of the night to stand in the way of the police attempts to take the parks.

some gathered inside the encampments, where many people stood on benches to observe the happenings in the area. free champagne was passed out at at the occupy cafe, which for the last month has been serving coffee free of charge to anyone who wants it. on the corner of main and fourth, about 75 people were gathered around a drum circle, dancing away.

the encampment at occupy portland, which has held the park blocks in the financial district downtown since october 6th, had dwindled slightly as of late. the surge in late-night participation for these winter-weary camps was in response to an ultimatum lately served by mayor adams, who announced that the city would temporarily close the park blocks "to put an end to safety, health and crime problems, and to repair the park land."

"we must balance people’s rights to free speech, with keeping the city safe and moving," adams said in an open letter to the city.

a standoff ensued. the police donned riot gear; the protestors broke out drums and megaphones. cops brought out tear gas, and protestors broke out the gas masks.

"don't shove," said a lady in her thirties to the teenagers standing around her. "when they push forward, we stand our ground."

chants proliferated, mostly aimed at the portland police officers who advanced on the crowd. "peace-ful pro-test!" was oft repeated, as protesters held up peace signs to the street. repetitions of  "who do you protect? who do you serve?" also rippled through the crowd.

others shared defensive tactics. "if they throw tear gas, pick it up, throw it back!" a man shouted to those standing around him.

another man made the rounds handing out rags soaked in apple cider vinegar. "when they tear-gas you, wipe you face with it!" he shouted above the din.

but the police did not tear-gas the crowd. they advanced several items on the mob, before being turned back by a surge of steadily advancing protesters. signs were waved and a peace signs were held as the occupiers advanced unarmed at the riot police. at least one beach ball bounced above the ecstatic crowd.

the first to retreat were the mounted police, followed by the riot police, who held formation as they slowly gave ground; they were pushed by the crowd all the way down third until they reached madison street.

"i support a lot of what the encampment stands for..."  mayor adams said on cnn. "(but) it shouldn't be focused on port-a-potties and tents and encampments attracting criminal elements. i think this movement needs to evolve."

meanwhile, many felt betrayed by a city that spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars enforcing last night's curfew.

despite the city's efforts, the camps still remained sunday morning.

"bag checks are going on. people are still mad about that. it's ok," a protester commented on the occupy portland livestream. the crowd had thinned. occupiers calmly ate brunch while police began to systematically taking their belongings. a man went to do dishes, only to have his water-fetching bucket pulled directly out of his hands by an officer in riot gear.

but a few hours later, the easy-going atmosphere was completely gone. a group of police had surrounded the remaining protestors, beating them with clubs while they chanted "peaceful!" and "shame on you!" (watch the video) 

more than 50 people were arrested, according to the associated press.

by nightfall sunday, a temporary fence surrounded both the parks. mayor adams' evition notice had been served.

a chain-link fence now borders lownsdale and chapman squares,which
until last night were the site of occupy portland. image: @occupyportland

you can reach sam adams at mayorsam@portlandoregon.gov. his twitter username is @mayorsamadams.

you can reach portland police chief mike reese at 503-823-0000. the twitter username for the portland police bureau is @portlandpolice.

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