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November 16th, 2011 COREY PEIN, NIGEL JAQUISS | News Stories
 

Chaos to Checkmate

Mayor Adams and Occupy Portland played a game in city parks. Police Chief Reese won.

PART COP: Reese, shown in profile wearing a ballcap, exchanges words with Cameron Matta, who was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.
IMAGE: vivianjohnson.com

“It is inaccurate to say that Portland’s government has ‘permitted’ Occupy Portland to stay put,” Ruiz wrote. “Rather, as the mayor has said, the city is currently not enforcing some of the park rules at Lownsdale and Chapman squares.”

Adams says city lawyers worried that the word “permitted” implied the city was giving an official stamp of approval to the camp, and thus assuming liability for them.

On Oct. 20, Adams took off on a nine-day trip to Asia without a plan in place, even as his office took reports about increasingly serious problems in the camp.

Adams says he considered canceling the trip but eight local companies expected his help introducing them to potential Asian customers. He says his physical absence was irrelevant.

“Thanks to modern technology I was able to be very much in communication with my team and everyone involved,” he says.

Meanwhile, Occupy leaders were pleading for help.

“The bevy of services has made the camps a magnet for the homeless, who now outnumber the original protesters,” WW reporter Aaron Mesh wrote Oct. 26 about his experiences living at the Occupation. “The Occupy leaders find themselves dealing with some of the same social ills they have been protesting against.”

On Oct. 30, a splinter group of Occupiers made a critical miscalculation. They tried to expand their footprint by taking the Pearl District’s Jamison Square. City Commissioner Randy Leonard, like Adams, had expressed  solidarity with Occupy Portland. But the movement’s threat to move into the city’s toniest urban neighborhood was too much.

“I am now left wondering if the planned march to and occupation of Jamison Square in Northwest Portland is an attempt to provoke a confrontation with the entire City Council,” Leonard wrote in an email to an Occupy supporter. “I also have some advice for you: Know who your friends are.”

Police arrested 27 people in Jamison Square. Two nights later, federal officials arrested 10 protesters who had chained themselves to a barrier at Terry Schrunk Plaza, a federally owned park next to Chapman Square. 

By that time, news reports had shifted their focus to crime in the camp.

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