• Sarah Mirk
Less than an hour after Mayor Sam Adams and Police Chief Mike Reese said cops would clear Chapman and Lownsdale squares, as well as Terry Schrunk Plaza, a large group of protesters has descended on Portland City Hall's Fourth Street entrance. And now security is telling everyone currently in the building that once they leave, unless you're a city employee with a city badge and enter on Fifth Street, you can no longer Occupy City Hall.

That's one sign the city is carefully watching how occupiers react in the wake of the 72-hour-ish eviction notice issued this morning. I asked the mayor's staff if that timeline might be sped up if tensions rose over the weekend. I was told that quick, camp-clearing action has been a possibility for the entire five weeks Occupy has been in the parks—if, say, there was serious violence or an outbreak of a disease.

While the mayor's office was discussing its response—in particular concerns about an overdose reported yesterday—police said another camper nearly died last night after overdosing, with officers having to administer CPR. If Adams wasn't quite settled on a timeline last night, that may have been the last straw

I also asked the city attorney's office—since Reese wouldn't comment on whether chemical munitions might be possible—if there are any provisions or directives that would limit their use downtown. David Woboril, a deputy city attorney who specializes in police issues, said only that the city has a directive banning the use of Tasers in crowd control/crowd management situations.

But there's nothing specific about tear gas—other than that gas be used "reasonably." That's a court standard that says a group of fellow officers would generally have to agree that deploying the gas is reasonable. Pepper spray also remains possible—and was almost used during last week's unplanned Eastside march.

I might be getting ahead of the message city hall has been trying to send. The mayor and chief both said the word "peaceful" several times and said they would be flooding the parks with information about how to find shelter and social services resources once the camps are cleared.

Portland has been at the forefront of a peaceful movement," Reese said, sounding like a mayoral candidate. "That is reflective of the spirit of Portland. I'm hoping we can continue that."

And Adams—who wonderfully and curtly refused to apologize "on behalf of small businesses" and other Portlanders when badgered at the news conference—tried to keep the olive branch extended to occupiers who have been agreeing more and more that the challenges of humanely trying to embrace and treat people without homes, struggling with illness and addictions, have become too overwhelming for a group of well-intentioned volunteers.

Said the mayor, when asked: "I want to be clear that the folks who have taken a leadership role in the movement have been incredibly responsive, and we have sought to be as supportive as we possibly can. But I cannot wait for someone to die in the camp or for someone to use the camp as camouflage to inflict bodily harm on others. The rising crime rate around the camp says to me that the despite their best efforts, and I'm not faulting organizers, events have conspired now to the point where we have to act."

Read his statement announcing the ouster here.