Update 11:55am—The crowd at Occupy Portland is now an estimated 2,000 people taking over both parks and Main Street in between. THIS FEELS LIKE NEW YEAR'S! Even though the official eviction time is midnight, police will likely hold off on enforcing the eviction for a few hours, as they did in Jamison Square two weeks ago. Anyway, the final countdown begins.the livestream.
No matter what happens tonight, the movement promises to continue in some form in the city: There's a General Assembly set for tomorrow at noon in Pioneer Square, then Monday local arts group the Dill Pickle Club is hosting an Occupy teach-in.
It seems inevitable that there will be mass arrests—the questions the crowd are weighing are how many people will be arrested and how peaceful the arrests will be. Protesters distributed flyers reading, "Welcome to OccuFest!" to the crowd earlier tonight offering arrest advice... including that it might be a good idea to get naked and cover yourself in Crisco. From the flyer, as transcribed by our reporter Georgia Perry:
Any arrests and potential violence will likely not occur until 2am-6am in the morning, when the police hope that fatigue will have reduced the number of protesters to a manageable size. Their mindset is the fewer witnesses to violence, the better it will go for them.
If clergy are present, join with them. In as large a group as possible, stand quietly between the police and combatants. In a group, surround people carrying weapons to use against the police. Look for those wearing masks and helmets. Do nothing but stand quietly, without being any kind of threat.
If you plan to be arrested, here are some suggestions:
1. Using a indelible marker, write the National lawyer's Guild number on your stomach.
2. If you have an Android SmartPhone, go to the Marketplace. Download and install "I Am Getting Arrested." Preprogram it with a text message and the numbers you want the message to be sent to.
3. Follow the instructions in the National Lawyers Guild leaflet.
4. If there is violence, and you are up to it (and it's not too cold), one of the best ways to divert everyone's attention and to make arrest less violent and more problematic for "some" is to get naked. It is best done in a group with cameras present. There is no law against public nudity in Portland. A layer of Crisco will help ward off the cold and make you harder to hold onto. Note: tear gas is absorbed by fats and will make its effects worse. Make sure that someone you trust has your possessions.
5. Sit quietly in an attitude of meditation. When the handcuffs come out, do not resist. You are there to make a witness by your arrest.
Well. That will certainly make the arrests slippery.
What would happen if the police actually arrested hundreds of people tonight? The Multnomah County Jail, as of Thursday, was at 88 percent capacity. Once the jail reaches 97 percent capacity—which would be about 95 people—they have to start releasing low level criminals to make space. There's also a potential the county could hold arrested people in holding tanks (or even parking garages, as happened during an Iraq War protest in 2003) but on Thursday, Sheriff Spokesman Steve Alexander said there were no plans to bring extra beds online to prepare for the protest.
Some people are excited about getting arrested to make a statement, like this charming retired couple from Newport. "We came here to be arrested," they told Mercury News Editor Denis Theriault.
Now, let's take a moment for Rumor Patrol!
RUMOR: The police have water cannons they will use on protesters.
Status: False! The Portland Police Bureau say they don't even have water cannons.
RUMOR: TriMet service is disrupted indefinitely throughout downtown.
Status: True! A bunch of bus lines are detoured throughout downtown. If you're heading to the protest, it might be tricky to catch the bus.
In closing, Chris O'Connor wins Tweet of the Week for this note: