This Week in the Mercury


Friday, November 11, 2011

Occupy Portland Firms Up Plans for "Occu-Fest"; AFL-CIO Steps Up With Storage Help

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Fri, Nov 11, 2011 at 12:08 PM

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After a boisterous general assembly that really did feel like the grand affairs at the start of the movement (except way more efficient this time), Occupy Portland today has sent out a somewhat formal schedule of events for what's expected to be its last day in Chapman and Lownsdale squares and Terry Schrunk Plaza.

As mentioned earlier, it'll be a potluck and dance party meant to last into the night, until police come by at 12:01 AM Sunday and give the official word to scoot. One concert is planned for 6 PM, when the food will be served, organizers said last night. And another is set for 8 PM.

And to help with plans to clean the parks before the promised sweep, Occupy sources say the state AFL-CIO council has offered space in a storage trailer behind its offices on SE 32nd and Powell. It's a sensitive dance, much like with the portapotties unions provided, because occupiers are wary of observers and activists thinking big labor might co-opt the movement. In addition, occupiers also are looking at church space. I've got a call into the AFL-CIO for comment.

Update 12:45 PM: Elana Guiney , the council's spokeswoman, confirms the storage arrangement, saying the AFL-CIO had the extra space and was willing to provide it. She also said that while labor backs Occupy and much of its message, and will continue to provide help when asked, "it's a separate movement."

Much of the plan for Saturday includes drawing a "critical mass" of people, in the style of the successful and diverse October 6 march that preceded the occupation. It's partly meant to recapture community support as Occupy figures out what's next—but some also hope that drawing lots of people to the parks will make it more difficult for the eviction to be carried out.

Whether people come, and how many? That's still unclear. Occupiers have talked to unions about also sending people down—which is tenuous—and also the religious community, like at the First Unitarian Church on SW 12th and Salmon. Occupiers from other cities may also come down—with Seattle sending at least 10 people, according to an email I was shown last night.

One person on hand today? Chief Mike Reese. According to the O, he said on KINK radio this morning that he'll be working a patrol shift for an officer—something he does every month.

That effort also may include a massive cleanup of the campsites—including, some occupiers hope, of some of the campers who've been less about the politics and more about enjoying a safe place to get loaded and, in a rising number of cases, pick fights and sell drugs. That work began last night, with tents vanishing here and there, and will continue today.

And although the GA expressed widespread, passionate support for nonviolence, it's fair to point out that the crowd that gathered was largely self-selecting. It didn't necessarily include those who won't abide by such a posture—either for their own political reasons or because they're drunk or disturbed and would react as such.

Read Occupy's plan for Saturday—including a rough schedule of events—after the jump.

Occupy Portland is responding to the Mayor’s threat of eviction on Saturday night, November 12/13, by throwing a Potluck Dinner: a family-friendly event with music and celebration for the entire city. Affinity groups will lead neighborhoods in marches beginning around 2 p.m. converging on the Occupation from about 5 PM. At least one group is coming from Seattle. There were announcements of support from local and regional groups. The purpose of the Occupy potluck is to bring a significant mass of people together in solidarity with the nonviolent, humanitarian goals of Occupy.

Energy at the General Assembly on Thursday night was high, and attendance was sharply up. Observers say between 200 and 300 were in attendance. Volunteer facilitator Adriane said the only larger General Assemblies have been in the first week of the Occupation. Many speakers voiced a belief that the movement is growing stronger, that the threatened eviction will bring more energy into the movement, and that a continuing public presence is necessary to provide a place for people to meet and to make visible the systemic problems that corporatism has long kept invisible.

After the emergency GA held in front of City Hall at noon, working groups prepared lists of actions that people can take before and after the eviction date. Most of the ideas put forward include the importance of gathering the largest crowd Occupy Portland has yet seen, united in peace, united in support for the 99% whose interests have not been served by corporatism, by war, and by the concentration of wealth in the hands of the very few. Visions include the following:

—a mass of people, singing and chanting, circling the encampment Saturday night on foot and bicycle;
—food: empanadas, pizza, cake, locally-grown fruits and vegetables;
—music: guitars, drums, shakers, singalongs;
—more signs: creative signs, funny signs, home-made signs with memorable slogans;
—playful costumes (warm and fuzzy ones, bunny suits, Portland at its weird and wonderful best);
—dancing all night long.

Adriane reminded the assembly that as always, in Occupy events, “Whatever the whole group decides, everyone can go with whatever feels right to them, so long as it’s peaceful and nonviolent.”

Before Saturday night, those who have valuables in the Occupied parks are urged to secure them and to move them off-site. Coalitions of local labor groups and some local churches are offering transportation and storage. Friday is a day for clean-up for the potluck. Some voices recommend “leave no trace.”

There were also many ideas concerning actions during and after the planned eviction. Some will sit in wait to be arrested. A training for those who are willing to risk being arrested is offered by the National Lawyer’s Guild at 2 PM on Saturday. Others will provide support for those being arrested. Ideas for after the eviction include the following: outreach to unions, homeless organizations and faith organizations, plans to keep the occupation visible, plans for community events occurring on a regular basis, plans to return to the park and clean it, re-seed the grass, care for the trees, and make the two parks that have been so important to us, more beautiful than they were before the Occupation.

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