Last night's Occupy Portland march through downtown (and also the East Side; sorry commuters!) reportedly came pretty close to flashing over into a genuine riot, after hundreds of marchers briefly shut down the Hawthorne Bridge and then got on car-filled SE Grand and MLK in such overwhelming fashion that officers actually threatened to use chemical munitions like tear gas and pepper spray to move them along.

And then, in another move that could have precipitated a larger clash, a marcher was arrested last night after police and witnesses said he pushed an officer in front of a moving TriMet bus—leaving the sergeant banged up but not in need of a trip to a hospital. That kind of allegation stings everybody: It's the kind of overt act of aggression that occupiers have all along worried could damage their nonviolent message.

Occupiers, of course, were marching in solidarity with Occupy Oakland, which was cleared out but returned with new vigor after police there used tear gas on demonstrators—prompting a massive public backlash that culminated in a thousands-strong citywide strike all day yesterday that shut down the city's port. Yesterday's peaceful strike turned violent late last night, prompting another round of gas and rubber bullets and arrests on downtown streets.

Portland actually got pretty lucky last night's march didn't erupt in similar fashion, out of sheer obliviousness, as you can read below. Portland occupiers are planning another big event about 11 this morning when JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon appears at a Portland Business Alliance luncheon at the Hilton on SW Sixth. (He was in Seattle yesterday, where cops used pepper spray on some assaulty protesters.)


Police spokesman Sergeant Pete Simpson said pepper spray, not tear gas, most likely would have been used to on the crowded thoroughfare if protesters didn't heed calls to get back on the sidewalk. He said it "would not affect drivers with their windows up." The warnings, he added, are required by the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals—if and when time allows. In this case, it did. And officers, some dressed in full riot regalia, decided they didn't need to uncork the chemicals.

Meanwhile, the march ended quietly, getting turned back from the Morrison Bridge before crossing the Burnside Bridge and heading back to Terry Schrunk Plaza for the nightly Occupy Portland general assembly meeting. But after a few dozen protest-related arrests since Saturday, it seems tensions might be inching higher. In a roundup of arrests and incidents sent out by the police bureau last night, Simpson included the account of the marcher who was arrested after allegedly pushing the sergeant. The marcher apparently ran from the cops but was arrested later.

At the least, it was another big call-out of officers, affecting all three precincts and the Traffic Division. Which means tomorrow might be a good day in court for anyone contesting a traffic ticket or anything worse.

In its release, the police bureau also included some other reported arrests as well as statistics on people at the main Occupy camps either excluded from the parks for drug and alcohol violations, or taken away on mental health holds or to detox.

The arrests probably show a couple of things: One is that people already inclined to steal things, or who have warrants would inevitably be picked up anyway, are keeping their home base in the very welcoming tent city instead of in other spots downtown. Another is that young occupiers are still struggling with the challenges of embracing, and trying to help, downtown's down-and-out in way that, they say, the government has not managed. And maybe a third is that occupiers still rely on the police to help provide order, as much as some in the camp chafe at the idea.

Here's the release:

Tonight, Wednesday November 2, 2011, Portland Police officers from all precincts were called to assist with an Occupy Portland march through Downtown and the lower east side of Portland. This march started at Terry Schrunk Plaza and went throughout the Downtown core, crossing the river on the Hawthorne Bridge, into lanes of traffic along Southeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and back Downtown across the Burnside Bridge.

At several points along the march, some participants refused police requests to stay on the sidewalk and took over streets, affecting traffic along the way.

During the march, one subject shoved a police sergeant into a moving TriMet bus, then ran back into the crowd. After the march was over, officers located the assault suspect and placed him under arrest. The sergeant suffered minor injuries and did not require medical attention.

30-year-old David Anthony Burgess was charged with Assaulting a Public Safety Officer, Interfering with a Police Officer, Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree, and Harassment. Burgess was booked into the Multnomah County Jail.

Due to the size of the march and the lack of cooperation from many participants, the Rapid Response Team (RRT) was called to assist with crowd management as well as officers from the Traffic Division and all three precincts.

In the past 3 days, the Portland Police Bureau has responded to a number of situations at the Occupy Portland encampments at Chapman and Lownsdale Squares. Below is a summary of some of the events:

On Monday October 31, 2011, officers responded to reports of a man stealing tires off a bike at Southwest 2nd and Morrison Street. A witness followed the suspect to the Occupy Portland encampment. Officers recovered the tires but the suspect eluded them into the tents. On Tuesday morning Officers arrested 52-year-old Reniel Diaz at the camp and booked him into the Multnomah County Jail for Theft in the Second Degree.

Also on Monday, officers responded to the report of a theft of barricades at a construction site at Southwest 4th and Madison Street. Officers located the barricades in the food area of Occupy Portland and they were returned to the construction site.

On Tuesday, officers contacted 25-year-old Omar Omar at Occupy Portland and arrested him on an outstanding warrant. Officers also arrested 25-year-old Dylan Wayne Hunter for Criminal Trespassing in the Second Degree and Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree. Both men were booked into the Multnomah County Jail.

Today, Officers arrested 26-year-old Aaron Nathan Sandeen after recognizing him as a wanted person out of Washington County. Sandeen was arrested out of his tent in Occupy Portland. Sandeen was booked into the Multnomah County Jail.

Over the past 3 days, there have been at least two park exclusions issued for alcohol in the park, and one for marijuana possession.

One person has been taken to Hooper Detox for alcohol-related intoxication.

Three people suffering from mental health issues were taken to hospitals on mental holds.

Two people suffering from medical issues were transported to area hospitals with health related issues, including a teen aged female that suffered breathing problems due to methamphetamine use.

Additionally, persons within the encampments have continued to contact police officers to report various illegal activities and health concerns that are ongoing in both Chapman and Lownsdale Square parks.

Officers are continuing to monitor the Occupy Portland encampments 24 hours a day and will take enforcement action when necessary.