Last week, I wrote a story that looked at Occupy Portland's growing tactical awareness that the Portland Police Bureau has been—and will continue to be—keeping close tabs on the movement, either by openly attending or watching meetings, but also by relying on information passed along by sources among Occupy.
One question was whether the bureau was also sending plainclothes officers to Occupy events and meetings. Police spokesman Sergeant Pete Simpson told me "there was no need" because so much of what Occupy does is out in the open. Turns out that may not have been exactly gospel.
In the comments of my story, someone posted the following video, which clearly shows to plainclothes officers attending an Occupy general assembly days at Tom McCall Waterfront Park before the big launch march on October 6.
I sent Simpson a link last week and reminded him about what he said in the paper. His response came Tuesday. In an earlier conversation before he viewed the link, he also told me that if there really was an effort to send plainclothes officers into Occupy he "could neither confirm nor deny" that kind of operation.
On the YouTube video, at the time the officers were in Waterfront Park, there was no information about the size, scope or nature of the march that was being planned. If you recall, there was no permit obtained or route shared about the original October 6 march. Officers in uniform, and plainclothes walked through the public park where the meeting was held to learn more about the planned event; specifically, potential size, route, stopping points, etc.; logistical information that would assist the Police Bureau in developing an appropriate response and securing resources for the march as well address the concerns that marchers would be marching in the streets without a permit and blocking traffic (potential criminal activity). They were not there to gather information on anyone's political views or anything like that as our officers are well aware of the state law prohibiting such activities.
The officers featured in the video regularly work a plainclothes assignment.