It's been six months (Really?!? Really) since Portland police pushed occupiers out of their Chapman and Lownsdale headquarters and set up a chain-link fence around both squares.
This morning, city parks staff quietly took down the now-familiar barricade, allowing the public back onto the parks' once-muddied, now gloriously green turf. By noon, a cautious trickle of curious passersby stopped to soak up the sun, read on the benches and kick a ball around. The mass of tents, vegan pancake lines and water-damaged cardboard signs seemed but a dream.
But! One group decided to commemorate the reopening with a brief occupation of their own. A blend of local Native American tribes came together late this morning at Lownsdale square to bless the freshly repaired land.
"This isn't a political move, this is about our people healing the land," said one leader, waving a bunch of sage over her head. "We're putting our personal opinions aside today to bless the natural world."
After an opening prayer, members broke off into the neighboring parks to perform blessings of their own. A group of park rangers watched in respect, rather than suspicion, bowing their heads during the prayers. No notable Occupy figures were present.
"What happened here..." paused the prayer leader. "I don't know if it was good or it was bad. But we must ask Mother Earth to forgive us for the destruction we left."