Police clear protesters from park
- Jim Redden
- Portland Tribune - News
UPDATE • Nearly 20 arrested in most recent Occupy Portland confrontation
Police prevented Occupy Portland protesters from setting up another camp Saturday in the South Park Blocks. The park was ordered closed at 8:30 p.m. and police then cleared it of protesters, their tents and other camping equipment.
According to the police, during the eviction, a child was pushed between protesters and the police, apparently as human shields. Police said no children were injured.
Police also said that empty shell casing were later found in the park. No shots were fired during the eviction, however.
After being evicted from the park, many of the protesters marched to City Hall, then returned to the park. Police patrolled the park into the night to prevent them from camping.
Nineteen people were arrested during the eviction. They were charged wtih crimes including second degree criminal trespass and interfering with a police officer. One man was also arrsted at City Hall after he climbed up to a second floor roof to set up a tent.
The confrontations began after a rally at Waterfront Park. Protesters marched through downtown to the section of the park blocks near Shermanski Fountain close to Southwest Salmon Street. They set up around two dozens tents there and announced their intention to stay, despite city policies against public camping.
Occupy Portland spokesman Jordan Ledoux said Friday morning that the would only last two weeks. The group also pledged to clean up the camp site when members left.
At about 8:30 p.m., the Portland Parks and Recreation director ordered the South Park Blocks closed. Portland police said that just before 7:30 p.m., park employees and park rangers attempting to enforce park rules were confronted by protestors and unable to complete their jobs.
Police are enforcing park rules and the park closure.
Mayor Sam Adams said Friday that the city would enforce its public camping ban in all parks.
'We simply cannot afford another encampment in our city,' Adams said. 'As someone who empathizes with the founding frustrations of the Occupy movement - economic inequity, our high unemployment rate, the influence of corporations and money in politics - I believe that the encampments have become a distraction from addressing these national issues.'
Adams said the city would balance the movement's free-speech rights with the city's park rules.
'Demonstrators can protest in any park during open hours, as long as they observe all parks rules, including those regarding structures,' he said.
Adams allowed Occupy Portland to camp for more than five weeks in Chapman and Lownsdale squares. He directed police to evict them on Nov. 13 because of growing health and safety problems. Portland Parks and Recreation estimates the encampment caused at least $85,850 worth of damages to the squares. They are now fenced off and the nonprofit Portland Parks Foundation is raising private funds for the repairs.
Fox 12 and reporter Kevin Harden contributed to this story.