This Week in the Mercury


Friday, December 2, 2011

Occupy Portland Plans Two-Week Long "Reoccupation"—Starting Tomorrow

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Fri, Dec 2, 2011 at 1:49 PM

Occupy Portland's media team held a brief press conference this morning about the plans for tomorrow's rally and march to a new Occupy tent city location.

Here's the basic idea: People will meet at Salmon Springs Fountain on the Waterfront at 2pm, hold an open forum (twinkles!) till 3pm, then march to the undisclosed location of the planned new camp. There will supposedly be live music at the new camp Saturday evening, along with a film screening.

Anticipating that the city will attempt to shut down the camp, the press team sent a letter to the mayor's office spelling out how they will address the city's various health, safety, and environmental concerns over the old Occupy camp. The activists say they'll clean up the park and vacate it at the end of two weeks, try to confine the camp to paved areas, and use a Gandhi-inspired Peace Army to address safety issues.

Will the city let the occupation continue? I guess we'll find out after Saturday. Meanwhile, can I recommend two long but interesting articles about Occupy? The first is about race and privilege (woop woop!) the second is about anarchy (triple woop).

Occupy's full letter to Sam is below the cut.

UPDATE 3:44 PM Mayor Sam Adams responds to Occupy's plans with an open letter, saying, essentially, that Occupy Portland's camps are a waste of public resources:

"As we look to make our own budget cuts in the coming year, we simply cannot afford another encampment in our city. I would much rather spend our finite dollars on direct services to those in need, rather than patrolling and cleaning up after an encampment," writes Adams."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. With these lessons learned in mind, I have directed the Portland Police Bureau to enforce all parks rules at all parks in a peaceful manner."

His full response is below the cut.

OCCUPY'S LETTER:

To Sam Adams, Mike Reese, and Nick Fish:

On December 3rd, Occupy Portland will once again occupy a public space. We have decided to do this after carefully considering many of the concerns expressed about our previous encampment, the sustainability of the space and the occupation, the environmental impact of our stay, the security concerns some have voiced, and the disruptions that may be caused to those around the park.

We do this in solidarity with Occupy movements around this country and this planet because we have the right to peacefully assemble on public property and because we have grievances with a variety of injustices in our society that have not been redressed. The proposal of this occupation is simple:

We will only occupy this park for two weeks;

We will clean up, for as long as it is necessary, to remove all litter, rake and till the ground, and replant any of the park’s plant life that requires such action under the direction of the Parks Commissioner and Portland Parks & Recreation;

We will have a group of volunteers ready to do this and will dedicate a portion (at our discretion) of any donations received by Occupy Portland toward the materials necessary to accomplish this end;

We will constantly ensure that our actions are having the smallest impact possible upon the public space, for example by using mesh tubing to ensure no damage is done to trees by any ropes which are fixed, using canopy tents instead of tarps where possible, and trying to contain much of the camp to brick or paved areas where available;

Although we attempt to make the space and the community as inclusive as possible, we will encourage a security culture in the space by rigorously keeping our protest in compliance with the established Code of Conduct which was passed by the Occupy Portland General Assembly earlier this fall, and employing an idea promoted by Gandhi known as “Shanti Sena”, or “Peace Army”, where anyone that hears this call is directed to immediately assist the person making the call with whatever issue has arisen.

Occupy Portland would like to create a space that works for all, and learning from the experiences of our first camp, we hope to see in what ways the City believes these things can best be accomplished. While we are hoping to address concerns the City may have, we categorically reject the idea that the dissolution of our encampment is an answer to any of these issues, and implore both the City of Portland and the Portland Police to be forthright, honest and measured in their interactions and expression with the public.

The ideas which the City is concerned about are solvable, and we hope to see our public officials engage in actions which attempt to solve them instead of simply shoving them aside.


Signed,

Occupy Portland

ADAMS' LETTER:

Today, the City received a statement from Occupy Portland indicating that protesters “will once again occupy a public space” tomorrow, December 3.
As a city, we have learned a lot in the eight weeks since the first Occupy Portland camp set up in Lownsdale and Chapman Squares. While the camp shone a bright light on important national issues of economic equity, it also showed the on-the-ground local impact of state and federal cuts to social service funding, which have left too many people without housing and without the mental health care that they need.
As we look to make our own budget cuts in the coming year, we simply cannot afford another encampment in our city. I would much rather spend our finite dollars on direct services to those in need, rather than patrolling and cleaning up after an encampment. 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.

With these lessons learned in mind, I have directed the Portland Police Bureau to enforce all parks rules at all parks in a peaceful manner.

This does not preclude the expression of free speech, something we have tried to balance from the beginning: Demonstrators can protest in any park during open hours, as long as they observe all parks rules, including those regarding structures. We are also anticipating a peaceful rally and march through downtown tomorrow.

We will continue to monitor the ongoing Occupy Portland protest, and make practical, day-to-day decisions like these as warranted.

Finally, I encourage supporters of the Occupy Portland movement to contribute to the Portland Parks Foundation fund to restore Chapman and Lownsdale Squares. You can donate here.

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