Associated Press story details clashes between protesters and homeless

Occupy Portland is attracting homeless campers who are occasionally clashing with protest staying there, according to an Associated Press story that has been posted on numerous news websites.

The same situation is happening at protest camps in some other cities, too, says the Oct. 22 article that focuses on Portland.

'When night falls in Portland, for instance, protesters have been dealing with fights, drunken arguments and the display of the occasional knife,' says the article, written by AP reporter Nigel Duara.

The article says the Portland camp is attracting the homeless because organizers set it up to offer free food, medical care and shelter to anyone.

'They also created an ideal place for the homeless. Some were already living in the parks, while others were drawn from elsewhere to the encampment's open doors,' according to the article.

Among the incidents documented in the article was confrontation between a homeless man with a pair of scissors and three former soldiers.

'Last week, a homeless man menaced a crowd of spectators with a pair of scissors. Micaiah Dutt, a four-tour veteran of the Iraq War, and two other former soldiers had no problem tackling and subduing the man. Other members of the protest's volunteer security detail have been punched and threatened with knives,' according to the article.

The article quotes Dutt as saying he does not always feel safe in the camp.

'I served four tours in Iraq, and I felt more safe there at times than here,' Dutt is quoted in the article telling other protesters. 'There, I had a weapon and knew the people around me were with me. Here, I don't know.'

The article points out that the camp has given some homeless people a chance to speak out against the economic conditions that have put them on the streets, however. It quotes Joseph Gordon, a homeless man who traveled from Cincinnati to Portland two months ago, as saying: 'It took this camp to show people how it really is.'

Downtown squares

The Occupy Portland camp was set up Oct. 6 in two adjacent downtown parks - Chapman and Lownsdale squares - after a rally and march called to protest Wall Street greed. Hundreds have stayed in tents set up the parks since then, living only about a block from Portland's City Hall.

'At the center of the camp are the medical, information, library and wellness tents. Along one side are families, who established a play area for children. On the opposite side is the 'A-Camp' - for anarchist. It's where the city's anarchist faction and long-term homeless sleep,' according to the article.

Although Portland has policies against camping in parks, Mayor Sam Adams has allowed the camping to continue.

'We are choosing not to enforce not the city's anti-camping laws and the park closure laws on these two blocks,' Adams told reporters during an Oct. 20 press conference. 'Our anti-camping ordinance is subject to our discretion in terms of where and when we enforce it.'

Police have arrested 12 people associated with the came so far. The most recent arrests happened on Saturday when police arrested two people for parole violations. One was Tara Akridge, who identified herself as the camp's 'resource director.' She was wanted for violating parole on drug charges.

Previously, police arrested eight people when they refused to move as officers tried to reopen a one-block stretch of Southwest Main Street between the two parks that had been closed by protesters. One man was arrested on marijuana possession charges in the camp. Another was arrested on disorderly conduct charges after showing a gun to protesters who confronted him while he was videotaping the camp.

Police have also documented an increase in shoplifting and vandalism around the camp since it was created.

The camp does not have any designated leaders who speak for the occupants. Individual campers have told reporters they plan to stay indefinitely.

Business leaders have called for the camp to be closed, saying it violates city policies and is presenting health and safety issues. Parks Commissioner Nick Fish says the two squares have so far sustained $19,000 in damages.

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