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Police reopen Main Street between protest camps

Eight Occupy Portland protesters were arrested during the early morning sweep
by: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT Police Capt. Sara Westbrook speaks with Occupy Portland protesters Wednesday afternoon about how to peacefully reopen Southwest Main Street, which had been closed to traffic since last week. Police arrested eight protesters and reopened the street to traffic early Thursday morning.

Portland police moved in early Thursday morning to reopen a section of Southwest Main Street that had been closed for a week by Occupy Portland protesters.

Eight people were arrested during the sweep, which started around 6 a.m., for disorderly conduct and interfering with a peace officer.

Mayor Sam Adams and Police Chief Mike Reese were both at the scene. Adams said he supports the protesters' concerns about the national economy, not closing a downtown street to traffic.

Police said they would continue to patrol the one-block section of the street to keep it open.

The police move followed repeated requests by Adams that protesters remove barricades set up between Chapman and Lownsdale squares on Southwest Main Street, where they are camping.

Adams met Wednesday with protesters, who told him they were split on the issue.

Adams' request was supported by Dave Williams, chairman of the Clean and Safe board, a downtown service organization overseen by the Portland Business Alliance.

In a Wednesday letter to the City Council, William wrote that Main Street should be reopened as soon as possible.

'Given that traffic on the Morrison Bridge is currently very limited due to construction, the Hawthorne Bridge now handles heavier than usual traffic,' Williams wrote. 'Because buses and vehicles traveling west across the Hawthorne Bridge exit onto Main Street, its closure only worsens the traffic problems created by the Morrison Bridge closure. Closing Main Street is not only frustrating for those who work downtown, but it also creates an impediment to those who wish to patronize our downtown businesses and enjoy our downtown entertainment and recreational amenities.'

Earlier in the day, a Portland police car was vandalized while parked near the protest camp. According to the police, when officers visiting the protest returned to their vehicle around 10:21 a.m., they found the word PIG written on it with a permanent marker.

Police are also investigating the report of a sexual assault they received during the first night of the camp. No victim or suspect information has been released.

Fox 12 contributed to this news story.