- Denis C. Theriault
- The raided "relaxation tent" at Occupy Portland.
We understand a call has gone out to Oakland, Seattle and San Francisco and perhaps other cities encouraging people to come to Portland and engage in resistance. People in the camp are expecting 100-300 re-enforcements from various locations. There may even be as many as 150 anarchists who will arrive soon. There is information that people may be in the in trees during a police action and that there are people who are attempting to obtain a large number of gas masks.
Yeah, well, here's part of today's:
Officers continue to see people packing up and leaving the encampments and officers are sharing information about shelter options with people in the encampments. Teams of outreach workers continue to walk through the encampments and are providing information and assistance to homeless adults and youth in locating safe shelter space....
The Portland Police Bureau anticipates that cooperation will continue with many people at the encampments and is encouraged by efforts to have a peaceful transition out of Chapman and Lownsdale Square parks. The Portland Parks Bureau is onsite and assisting people with clean up efforts of debris and unwanted property.
Interesting, right? The tone from the police bureau seems to have shifted dramatically with just about 12 hours to go before the 12:01 AM deadline to clear out of Chapman and Lownsdale squares and Schrunk Plaza.
Mind you, it's not because there won't still be holdouts at the campsites who want something more than the "nicest possible" civil disobedience arrests that Chief (and likely mayoral candidate) Mike Reese is promising for protesters who defy the cops. And it's not because there aren't legitimate concerns about violence—even among occupiers working for a peaceful exit.
(Click the jump to keep reading, but first, a reminder! For anyone hoping to play along at home, Sarah Mirk will be keeping Blogtown fresh well into the wee hours and I'll be getting word out as it happens over on Twitter—@theriaultpdx.)
Today's police release—which mentions yesterday's heroin overdose and another this morning (how many others happened this week in other places?)—still includes talk (and official pictures here and here) of confiscated weapons. But it also makes sure to mention the cooperation of other occupiers. Which really is a recurring theme: Last night, for example, Gina Ronning of the safety team asked for volunteers to guard the remnants of the camp's engineering tent after someone was spotted rummaging for useful equipment.
I suspect it's also an attempt to dial back tensions that flared especially bright yesterday when some musicians' tent and wooden structure was raided for rocks that police thought might have been throwing weapons, but which the campers say were were rocks too heavy to throw but perfect for fortification. The structure had "nonviolence" written on it. Headlines about yesterday cop concerns in the Oregonian and on TV almost had a self-fulfilling quality to them.
And, in another potentially de-escalating announcement, Occupy media volunteer Reid Parham tweeted that Parks Commissioner Nick Fish promised that anything confiscated during the cleanout would be stored somewhere safe.
Will it matter? One occupier, Micaiah Dutt, a city hall and police liaison and a veteran who says he's done riot control himself, said he expected some people might be spoiling for a confrontation and that he's trying to make sure they have a crystal-clear picture of what might happen. If it's peaceful, it'll be a methodical dismantling of tents. But if "someone does something stupid?" Tents will be slashed open. Flash-bang grenades will be lofted. Pepper spray and worse will be deployed.
"I have been in their shoes," Dutt says of the cops. "I'd clear the camp entirely out and throw a dance party."
He says he and others will be helping social services providers talk to runaways and other at-risk kids who might need some convincing to leave.
"That's the mission tonight and tomorrow," he said after last night's general assembly meeting.
The cops were also right about something else, Dutt confirmed. There will be a someone in the trees. Another veteran—with waterproof garments, a heavy battery and camera. Livestreaming the whole clearout.