Sunday, November 13, 2011

Portland Police Dismantle 'Occupy' Camps After Confrontation

Portland police dismantle 'Occupy' camps after confrontation

Tensions mount as cities sweep protesters' sites; officers attacked in San Francisco

Several hundred protesters, some wearing goggles and gas masks, marched past authorities in a downtown street Sunday, hours after riot police drove Occupy Portland demonstrators out of a pair of weeks-old encampments in nearby parks.

Police moved in shortly before noon and drove protesters into the street after dozens remained in the camp in defiance city officials. Mayor Sam Adams had ordered that the camp shut down Saturday at midnight, citing unhealthy conditions and the encampment's attraction of drug users and thieves.

The Portland confrontation followed sweeps in Denver and Salt Lake City. Oakland, Calif., issued eviction notices to protesters encamped there. In Chapel Hill, N.C., police raided a vacant car dealership seized earlier by protesters.

By early afternoon in Portland, officers had mostly surrounded a downtown camp where the protesters were holding a "general assembly" meeting to discuss their next moves following the eviction order. Some advocated occupying foreclosed homes, others wanted to move onto the Portland State University campus or to the shores of the Willamette River.

Demonstrators regrouped in the street, blocking traffic in a standoff with rows of Portland officers in riot gear.

Police could be seen carrying at least one protester away from the park. Another man was taken away on a stretcher; he was alert and talking to paramedics, and raised a peace sign to fellow protesters, who responded with cheers.

Hours earlier, defiant crowds swelled to thousands and went toe-to-toe with police after closing Southwest Third Avenue and Madison Street overnight.

Protesters cheered and chanted "this is what victory looks like" after it appeared police retreated after the standoff over the eviction notice, the Oregonian reported.

By late morning, Portland police had taken control of both Chapman and Lownsdale squares, the Oregonian reported. They encountered almost no resistance as they took down tents in both downtown parks, but the street confrontations continued intermittently.

Mayor Sam Adams tweeted "Thanks to all who helped open the streets."

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

Portland, Ore., police officers arrest a protester Sunday in the Occupy Portland encampment. Around 4 a.m. a line of about 200 police stretched across a street and in front of a federal courthouse.

Protesters put up barricades of pallets, couches and chairs at Southwest Main Street, but they were taken down as the crowd retook the parks.

When crowds thinned, police moved in.


In Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter on Sunday ordered beefed-up police patrols at the city's protest site, saying conditions were "dramatically deteriorating."

"This movement has changed and the people have changed," he said. "We are now at a critical point where we must reevaluate our entire relationship with this very changed group."

He said communication has broken down between officials and protesters, and city concerns over fire hazards, litter and a lack of toilets have gone unaddressed.

Added to that are thefts, assaults and an alleged sexual attack at the camp at Dilworth Plaza, he said in a statement.

In Oakland, the scene of previous clashes between police and demonstrators, city hall issued a third eviction notice on Sunday. It warned protesters they faced "immediate arrest" if they continued to camp out in the city's plaza and parks.

The city offered alternative emergency accommodation at two local area homeless shelters, and laid on a shuttle service to one that was not within walking distance of the encampments.

Also, Scott Olsen, the Iraq War veteran who suffered a serious head injury during a police raid on the Occupy Oakland encampment, was released from the hospital. Olsen suffered a skull fracture during tear-gas filled clashes between police and demonstrators on Oct. 25.

In Chapel Hill, N.C., police with guns and assault rifles entered a Franklin Street car dealership and arrested a group of demonstrators who had taken over the building Saturday night, the News and Observer reported. Protesters had hung banners saying "Occupy" and "Everything" in dormer windows.

In Salt Lake City, police arrested 19 people Saturday when protesters refused to leave a park a day after a man as found dead inside his tent at the encampment. The arrests came after police moved into the park early in the evening where protesters had been ordered to leave by the end of the day. About 150 people had been living in the camp there for weeks.

In Albany, N.Y., police arrested 24 Occupy Albany protesters after they defied an 11 p.m. curfew in a state-owned park. State police officials hauled away the protesters after warning them with megaphones that they were breaking the law in Lafayette Park. They were charged with trespassing.

In Denver, authorities forced protesters to leave a downtown encampment and arrested four people for interfering with officers who removed illegally pitched tents, said police spokesman Sonny Jackson.

In San Francisco, a clash with Occupy San Francisco protesters left one police officer slashed and a second with a torn uniform Saturday afternoon, the Contra Costa Times reported. A woman wielding an "exacto razor blade attached to a pen or pencil-like object" slashed one officer as police tried to keep marchers at the Embarcadero near Broadway from blocking the intersection where light rail tracks are located, the Times said, citing police reports. Also, one protester grabbed an officer's radio and a second protester blocked the officer's attempt to retrieve it, tearing his uniform and cutting his cheek in the process, the Times said.

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