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Sunday, November 13, 2011

OCCUPY PORTLAND: 12:01AM SUNDAY


When I arrive at approximately 10:30 P.M., maybe 30 or 40 tents are still present. A large group of demonstrators are gathered under the large tarp in Chapman Square listening to various speakers, but not much else is going on.


I walk around Chapman and Lownsdale Squares. The police presence is minimal with groups of 4 or five officers at block corners and attending the giant light/generators that have been brought in to illuminate the parks.


Evidently, Tea Party demonstrators haven't cornered the market on poor spelling.






As the announced deadline for evacuating the camp draws closer, more and more people begin filtering into the park blocks and lining the streets facing the parks, particularly 3rd street. Some people have come to serve as witnesses, some join the ranks of the demonstrators in the park, some have come to express their displeasure with the demonstrators, and some, like ghoulish NASCAR fans, have come to see what they hope will be a violent spectacle.



Mounted patrols circle the park and generally park themselves at points where it appears crowds may spill into the streets. The streets have not been closed and as police arrive, their first tasks seem to be to keep the streets clear and traffic moving.


Now and then,  tents are taken down and folded as the deadline nears.



 Eventually, clusters of demonstrators fill the sidewalks and overflow into Main Street, the street that separates Chapman Square from Lownsdale Square.




Several groups serve to remind participants and spectators that the intent is for this to be a peaceful demonstration.


The crowd keeps swelling. The sidewalks lining Third Street fill up with people and they spill into the street about three people deep. The police don't have enough people to cordon off the sidewalk and so a lane of traffic is lost.



 The Justice Department Building is transformed into a giant set of bleachers.


Starting at 11:00 PM, members of a bicycle rally begin circling the parks.


About two hours after the deadline, it felt like a stalemate - the police seemed content
to keep the bulk of the demonstrators contained in the park blocks. It didn't appear as if they could afford to escalate.


However, I noticed the mounted patrol appeared to be staging for action, and a line of police cars stretched down 2nd avenue on the other side of the Justice Building.




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