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Occupy Portland takes democracy to the streets

Two Views • Protest camp sets off a debate on proper way to send a message
by: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT Occupy Portland demonstrators established a camp in Chapman and Lownsdale squares Oct. 6, a block from City Hall. The group is protesting Wall Street greed and a variety of other issues. Mayor Adams has allowed the camp to remain despite city policies against camping on public property.

We recognize there are some people out there who do not understand why the Occupy movement exists and what we are about. It would be nearly impossible to speak for everyone here at the Occupy Portland. There are many different ideas, motivations and experiences that reflect the genuine diversity of the movement.

Regardless of the reasons, we are occupying under one guiding principle: we all recognize that our political, economic and environmental systems are broken, and urgent change is mandatory to ensure that the 99 percent of us are not only heard and addressed, but are also empowered to thrive and see that real change is enacted.

Portland is in complete and peaceful solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement and all other Occupy movements in kind. For those who do not believe that there are a set of grievances or coherence to the movement, they have probably been listening to the mainstream media that has not or does not care to actually report fact.

We encourage everyone to read the 'Declaration of the Occupation' here: www.nycga.cc/2011/09/30/declaration-of-the-occupation-of-new-york-city.

We also encourage everyone to seek out alternative and independent sources of media that will provide different perspectives that reflect the diversity of the 99 percent.

As the declaration states, we too echo: 'To the people of the world, we urge you to assert your power. Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone. To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.'

We occupy to enable this discussion, to create an environment where issues can be raised and voices can be heard. We are collectively determining how to create a better future for us all. Through tireless efforts, in less than two weeks we have created an infrastructure that includes a library and workshops, volunteer coordination, health care and well-being, a fully operational kitchen, a café, a community garden, pedal-powered generators, an art tent, peacekeepers, open forums for discussion and even a 'kids town.' We are committed to creating an inviting environment for everyone who wants to engage with us.

We understand that there are some that have concerns about Occupy Portland. We encourage those who have questions or issues to discuss them with us. We have open, positive dialogues with the mayor's office, police department, fire marshals and other city agencies.

We are grateful to have also had the support of the Portland Marathon, as well as thousands of citizens, many who have been volunteering their time and supporting the movement with their hard-earned money.

We are here to represent Portland in solidarity with the millions of people in almost 1,000 cities around the world who are also occupying. We may not have all the answers, but are listening to our community.

We are Portland. We are here to engage with our friends and neighbors, to educate and illuminate and facilitate discussions and dialogue, and to inform our politicians and the 1 percent that the status quo is no longer acceptable and there will be change. We will do this with our voices, our votes, our wallets.

We will occupy until we no longer have to. We are here for us and we are here for you.

We are the 99 percent. You are the 99 percent.

Kip Silverman, Illona Trogub, Patrick Dougherty and members of the Occupy Portland communications team drew this statement from general assembly meetings, previous statements and conversations.