'Occupy Portland' activists say they won't budge

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by KGW Staff

NWCN.com

Posted on October 12, 2011 at 7:51 AM

PORTLAND -- "Occupy Portland" activists announced late Tuesday evening that they will remain  in Lownsdale and Chapman Square parks in downtown Portland and will continue to block Main Street, which runs between the two parks.

Portland Mayor Sam Adams and Police Chief Mike Reese toured the site earlier Tuesday. Mayor Adams called the demonstrators "cooperative" but reiterated: "We would like to get Main Street open, and so we are working with protesters to see how that can happen in a safe manner."

In a prepared statement issued late Tuesday, the activists praised Adams and Portland police for their handling of the protest. What happens Wednesday was unclear.

Alex, an Occupy Portland protester, responded that "it's really a safety issue - we have two camps here, we have kids running around, there are going to be people walking around and we don't want anything bad to happen."

Photos: Tuesday tour of Occupy Portland

Main street, which has been closed since the parks were occupied, is normally used by eight bus lines, as well as bicyclists and 7,500 cars. Mayor Adams gave protesters an exception from city policy that prohibits overnight stays, allowing them to camp at Chapman Park.

It was unclear what plans the city has for clearing out Lownsdale Square and removing Occupy Portland barricades on Main Street. Main runs between the two parks behind City Hall and the Portland Building.

Rain has created some muddy spots and the grass has been trampled. On Tuesday, demonstrators brought in bales of hay to help.

Parks turned into camps

What started as a march last Thursday resembled an encampment in the heart of downtown by Monday.

Portland Mayor Sam Adams initially bent the rules against overnight stays in city parks, saying the protesters would be allowed to camp overnight in Chapman Square, something the city ordinance does not allow. By Monday, Occupy Portland had set up medical, food and supply tents. Some had even plugged in to an electric car charging station near the parks. On Tuesday, the city reportedly turned off power to the charging station.

The thousands who turned out for Thursday's protest have dwindled to a few hundred campers. Those camping at the parks have not said when they all plan to move out. Police have not yet set a deadline, either.

'Occupy' did not impact marathon

There were concerns over the weekend that the protest would get in the way of the Portland Marathon, but no major problems were reported.

Portland Marathon spokeswoman Katie Edlin said protesters and marathon organizers worked well together and some of the protesters volunteered for the marathon.

Background: Portland Marathon cooperates with protesters

Related: Portland Marathon biggest ever, organizer says

A statement released on the Occupy Portland website over the weekend touted the cooperation, reading, "We are excited about cooperation with the Portland Marathon Committee to make this a great experience for all involved."

There were no reports of disruptions during the race or clashes between marathon participants and protesters.

More: 'Occupy Portland' viewer photos

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