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November 16th, 2011 12:01 am AARON MESH, HANNAH HOFFMAN | News Stories

The Fall of the 420 Hotel

In the final hours of Occupy Portland, there was mud, a riot squad and a speckled rooster.

IMAGE: vivianjohnson.com

The number of police grew as it became clear they were going to target the 420 Hotel last. A man inside the fort yelled “Shame! Shame!” at police who got too close. He told an African-American officer that Martin Luther King Jr. would roll over in his grave at the sight of him. A skinny man strummed a guitar and sang John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero.” 

“They hurt you at home and they hit you at school,” he sang. “They hate you if you’re clever and they despise a fool.”

At 12:20 pm, a long line of police wearing black riot gear streamed out of the Justice Center across Southwest 3rd Avenue. Their electric-blue gloved hands gripped both ends of their batons, their helmets’ face shields dropped down. 

They surrounded Chapman Square and slowly moved across the slick mud. Protesters howled at the sight. “Pigs on the loose!” someone shouted. Others joined him. “Pigs on the loose!”

The police van with speakers was back. The announcer told everyone to leave the park or face the possibility of physical force. “You may be subject to the use of chemical agents,” the announcement added.

The officers moved west and formed a line in front of the 420 Hotel and the 100 or so people who were determined to hang on to the last corner of the Occupy Portland camp. The police, batons across their chests, pushed people back. 

Some people fell as the officers surged forward; others were pinned against benches. The police overturned the lunch table, spilling bagels, apples and animal crackers onto the sidewalk. Several Occupiers who fought back were dragged out of the crowd to be arrested. Others grabbed at the officers’ batons; the police pulled their batons away and brought them down on some of the protesters, fast and hard.

“Nazis!” people shouted. “I thought you were better than this, Portland! Murderers!”

Gina Ronning, a leader of the camp’s safety and peacekeeping committee, picked up a megaphone and called for people to sit down. They did and the police eased off. Then someone else along the front line with the officers yelled for everyone stand up and keep pushing back. People stood up again—but the tension had eased slightly.

IMAGE: vivianjohnson.com

The police directed the Occupiers and hundreds of onlookers into Southwest 4th Avenue and eventually into Main Street, between the Multnomah County Courthouse and the Portland Building. There they held the crowd at bay while dismantling the 420 Hotel and arresting its remaining residents.

Behind the police, city parks crews lined Chapman and Lownsdale squares with chain-link fence with barbed wire across the top. 

Eventually, people drifted away. A few dozen headed to Pioneer Courthouse Square for a strategy meeting and pizza party.

In front of City Hall, a man carried a black-and-white-speckled rooster into the intersection of Southwest Madison Street and 4th Avenue. He placed the rooster in the street and turned to the police line guarding Chapman Square. The rooster strutted toward the police, then turned around and wandered west.

“Cock-a-doodle-doo!” the man shouted. “Wake up, people!”

Occupy Elsewhere Homeless, Not Faceless Chaos to Checkmate
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