Raise your hand if you remember last month's big ol' Jamison Square demonstration—the Occupy Portland Pearl District protest that started with a cheery, festive rally but led to a massive police callout after midnight and 27 arrests?
The same organizer who planned that rally (and also one of the arrestees), Cameron Whitten, is planning a similar parks curfew protest November 19 in Southeast's Colonel Summers Park. Occupy's general assembly blessed the new protest last night—officially just a 24-hour sit-in and not—NOT, I repeat—a proposal to expand the cramped main camps at Chapman and Lownsdale squares.
Whitten tells me he's been contacted by neighbors in the area who like the idea. He's planning a general assembly meeting "on local issues" and hopes residents will actually join occupiers in taking the park for what he's hoping will be a 5 PM to 5PM event.
Whether that's enough to stay the hand of Mayor Sam Adams and the police bureau... yeah. I'll update when I hear from Adams' office, but given the mayor's past comments about enforcing parks rules at all other parks, and after the latest stinging news reports about tensions with Occupy (like last night's Molotov cocktail allegations—which will have Adams huddling with Chief Mike Reese), I'm guessing tolerance won't be much on Adams' mind.
(By the way, OPB's Think Out Loud ought to win an award for great timing: Adams will be among the guests talking about "The Future of the Occupy Movement" this morning. The segment is scheduled to air at 9:30.)
Also announced at the GA meeting, but not fleshed out, was an equally intriguing action, for the national "Day of Action" November 17, billed as "Occupy the Banks." Which sounds a lot like what you might think it is. It was described as a plan to "shut down the banks in Portland."
Meanwhile, in other Occupy-related news, a controversial police-collaboration proposal has been tabled for more work on its "defensive" tone, and a deadline set by the fire marshal for a partial camp transformation has arrived. Hit the jump!
• A proposal that would answer the mayor's call to solve security issues by asking the Portland Police Bureau to "take the initiative" and proactively police Chapman and Lownsdale squares, working hand in hand with the encampment's safety committee members, was tabled by the GA last night amid concerns its wording was too apologetic and that too few occupiers were attending the meeting. (Last night was also the big Occupy comedy/film fundraiser at the Bagdad.)
The plan also would increase the frequency of police walkthroughs and ask one officer to serve as a designated liaison for the safety volunteers who are charged with patrolling the camps and enforcing GA prohibitions on drugs and violence. (Which, when you ask committee members swamped by street kids and homeless campers, they say they actually can't do very well on their own.)
"It's very defensive. It comes of as an apology to the mayor, who should be responsible for addressing the problems of the community," said Guillermo Magallon of the Western Farmworkers Association. "You should not apologize for the poverty here. That's his job. If there's homelessness and crime, he should fix that."
But another occupier insistently urged the group not to bury the idea in process or with semantics, invoking the specter of rapes, prostitution, and struggles with wayward sharps dropped by addicts.
"There's a serious safety concern... This is a solution, because self-policing has not been working. There needs to be something done," the woman said. "People are being stabbed by needles. Something needs to be done about this."
• Today's the deadline for occupiers to have solved a handful of concerns lodged by Assistant Fire Marshal Nate Takara during a walkthrough (ordered by the mayor, emails from his office show) last week. Among them: Hiking up tarps over tents and walkways so there's at least 12 feet of height clearance, and removing all non-tent structures. Meaning the camp's sukkah will need to come down, and so will tent-like installations like the tarps and poles sheltering things like the camp's safety team (now with new lockers!) and KBOO's embedded broadcast booth.
Takara also wants tents rearranged to allow for fire lanes—which is hard to enforce as tents come and tents go. And he wanted big changes to the camp's burgeoning electrical system, presided over by tireless volunteer John Buckingham, a Texas-licensed engineer sleeping in a doorway before Occupy started.
But as of late last night, as far as I could tell, aside from what Buckingham has been doing in the Southeast corner of Chapman Square, not much looked different. Many tarps were still too low to walk under. Tents are still placed haphazardly. And none of the structures had been taken down. (Although Aaron Mesh of WW reported this morning actually witnessing some progress.)
"We're in search of a tent," KBOO reporter Joe Lino, a regular camper at Occupy since October 6, said with a smile last night. "As far as I know, I'm broadcasting tomorrow."
Buckingham, for his part, had long ago sidelined a verboten 10,000-kilowatt generator, and had instead set up an 8,000-kilowatt generator—complete with a large, lined tank for storing diesel fuel, a cyclone-fence cage to protect it, and a professional-grade circuit breaker containing two circuits.
The problem? That's also supposed to be turned off, absent a permit. Takara approved only 5,000-kilowatt generators for the camp. The fire marshal's office didn't get back to me with a response back on Monday when I asked what might happen if campers didn't comply by today.