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Occupy moves into Oregon City

Local supporters help spread awareness about disparities
by: raymond rendleman Chris Hofgren protests in front of a bank along Main Street in downtown Oregon City.

What started as Occupy Wall Street, raising awareness about the disparity in wealth between the richest 1 percent and the rest of the nation, ended up last week in downtown Oregon City.

Downtown business owner Doug Gless got the idea to start the Occupy Oregon City vigil when he saw an 'Occupy Mosier' sign from someone affiliated with the Occupy Columbia Gorge contingent. Gless is president of H.G. Schlicker and Associates at 607 Main St.

'Oregon City is really the heart of the West and is as much as where it all started as Astoria, so we've always been pioneering movements of independently spirited people,' Gless said.

Gless participated in protesting the Nov. 13 eviction of the Occupy Portland from the group's five-week encampment in two downtown Portland city parks. While he was prepared to get arrested that morning, Gless said he ended up joining a mass of people pushed out of the park to find other means of protest.

Gless and Chris Hofgren, an H.G. Schlicker employee, settled on an idea to work overtime so they could stand in front of the U.S. Bank at 901 Main St. They chose the location because it was 'the most visible and highly pedestrian trafficked symbol of wealth in the city,' Hofgren said.

A tense moment came when Oregon City U.S. Bank Branch Manager Rachelle Poersch came out of the business's front door and asked Hofgren to refrain from talking with customers using the bank's ATM. While using the ATM, an employee of the United Parcel Service who was supportive of the picket had engaged Hofgren in a conversation.

'President Obama wouldn't have gotten where he is if he wasn't backed by the banks and the insurance companies, so we need to get away from Republicans versus Democrats and start thinking about the issues that really matter,' Hofgren said.

The UPS employee, who gave only his first name as 'Sid,' agreed, saying, 'The whole thing is unsustainable because it's a whole a house of cards that's going to come down any minute.' While they talked, some passersby waved and honked their horns.

Poersch declined to comment, except to say that she accepted Hofgren's right to hold a sign on the public sidewalk. Oregon City police officers made their regular patrols of Main Street, but they did not pay special attention to the protest.