This time, Camp Cascadia organizer Jessie Sponberg says, he means it.
After rallying peaceably—and in almost-full cooperation with park rangers—in its protests at Mount Tabor Park over the weekend, Sponberg tells the Mercury it's time to escalate.
"We're not gonna leave at midnight tonight," he said. "We want something real out of city hall and since they're not gonna do it, what are we supposed to do? Just every day play this little game?"
Camp Cascadia protesters—who showed up in relative force at the demonstration's kick off on Friday, but have dwindled since—want the city to pull back on a decision to follow a US Environmental Protection Agency rule aimed at preventing potential parasites in Portland's drinking water supply. The city has fought the so-called Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule since 2006, but announced in June it had run out of options, and would drain three reservoirs on Mount Tabor.
Activists say the city should direct Oregon's senators and congressmen to interject on Portland's behalf, a tack taken in 2011 by New York politicians.
We've heard threats of civil disobedience from Camp Cascadia before. In the run-up to the protest, Sponberg told the Mercury: "This isn't fun and games. Don't bring your Little Mermaid sleeping bag. This is serious."
But when cops showed up on all-terrain vehicles three hours into the protest, organizers quickly decided to ask demonstrators to take their tents down, and said they'd leave the park before its midnight closure. Sponberg said the decision was strategic, and that he didn't want children at the protest to be jeopardized. He called the police decision to arrive at 8 pm, rather than the parks closing time, a "dirty fucking tactic."
Three people were arrested in Friday's demonstration.
Sponberg now says he'd been waiting this morning to hear from Mayor Charlie Hales's office, but no call ever came.
"What am I supposed to do, spend my whole summer coming back and playing pretend activist on a mountain?" he said. "We've tried to be civilly obedient. The mayor didn’t think we were important enough."
Hales' Spokesman Dana Haynes says Sponberg shouldn't expect to hear from the mayor.
"If the Occupy Tabor folks want to communicate with members of the city council there are mechanisms for doing that," he said. "They are free to avail themselves of them."
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