Late Friday, word got out that the city had sent a letter to Occupy Portland, asking it to get a permit or move its Sunday general assembly meetings out of downtown's Director Park—which, apparently, gets pretty hopping with programmed activities during the summer months.
The letter maybe was more indelicate than it needed to be, however. And when the Sunday GA meeting at Director Park was convened last night, the parks bureau official who wrote the letter, security manager Art Hendricks, was on hand to offer an apology and an explanation. Occupy Portland's GA can stay if it wants to, partly because the thing rarely draws enough people to trigger park rules about too-large crowds, and also because parks rules are actually pretty clear about protecting free-speech rights.
Occupy, in turn, agreed to keep up the lines of communication with the parks bureau, for those weeks when some other event or group really does have a permit to use the entire park. Next week, for example, the GA is moving to Terry Schrunk Plaza to make way for a music festival.
"I have no issue with you being here," Hendricks told the crowd of a couple dozen, also adding that "I apologize" for the impression his letter left.
"The challenge is how do we communicate?" he also said, explaining that he's tried to have this conversation in the months leading up to his attention-getting letter. Later, he pledged that "I will work with you in any way possible. All I'm asking is that you work with us as well."
Hendricks' remarks come about the 33rd minute in the recorded livestream of the GA.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!