Occupy protesters defy eviction order in Oregon

By Terrence Petty

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Nov. 13 2011 12:38 p.m. MST

PORTLAND, Ore. — Anti-Wall Street protesters and their supporters flooded a city park area in Portland early Sunday in defiance of an eviction order while authorities elsewhere stepped up pressure against demonstrators, arresting dozens of people.

Crowds converged on two adjacent downtown Portland parks where protesters are camped after city officials set a midnight Saturday deadline to disperse. Hours later protesters remained, though the crowd had thinned and obeyed police orders to clear the street and take down two makeshift barricades.

At one point overnight, the crowd swelled to thousands.

As dawn arrived, riot police had retreated and most of the crowds had gone home, but protesters who have been at the two parks since Oct. 6 were still there.

One of the organizers, Jim Oliver, said the night had been a victory for Occupy Portland.

"We stood up to state power," Oliver told The Associated Press, standing on a corner opposite the camp.

Still, the camp is a shadow of what it was before Saturday. A large segment of the campers consisted of homeless people who had been drawn to the free food and shelter offered by Occupy Portland. They are gone, after outreach workers went through the camp to help them find shelter elsewhere.

And as the Saturday midnight eviction deadline neared, protesters themselves began dismantling tents.

There were once 300 or so tents at the camp, and early Sunday morning a fraction of them remained.

As the Saturday night deadline neared, about 200 protesters were at the camp. Organizers said they hoped enough people would join them to make it difficult if not impossible for police to carry out on the eviction.

Supporters streamed in, filling first the camp and ultimately occupying a street between the camp and the federal courthouse.

"Occupy the street," one organizer said through a bull horn. "Remain peaceful and aware. We have strength in holding the streets."

Around 4 a.m., dozens of police formed a line across from demonstrators who had poured into the street. Protesters facing them appeared to be in festive spirits with some banging on drums and plastic pails, another clanging a cowbell while others danced in the streets as a man juggled nearby.

Other demonstrators used pallets and old furniture, wood debris and even a bicycle to set up two makeshift barricades on a street that runs through the encampment, apparently in an attempt to block traffic.

Protesters ultimately got off the street after the police asked them to and also cleared away the barricades.

Mayor Sam Adams had ordered the camp shut down, citing unhealthy conditions and the encampment's attraction of drug users and thieves.

On Sunday at an impromptu news conference, he defended his order, saying it is his job to enforce the law and keep the peace. "This is not a game," he said.

He also noted that implementing the eviction order may require more patience.

"Giving the order that the parks will be closed to the public is putting my foot down. Enforcing will take time," he said.

Officials said that one officer suffered minor injuries when he was hit by some kind of projectile in the leg. Police had prepared for a possible clash, warning that dozens of anarchists may be planning a confrontation with authorities. Officers seized pieces of cement blocks Friday, saying they were told some demonstrators had plans to use them as weapons against police. They said they believe some demonstrators were building shields and trying to collect gas masks.

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