October 30th, 2011 By Hannah Hoffman and Aaron Mesh | News | Posted In: Activism, City Hall, Cops and Courts, Business, Politics

UPDATED: Pearl District Occupation Ends with 27 Arrests

Watch video of police pushing Occupiers out of Jamison Square

pearlPearl District Occupiers wait to be arrested - Photo by Aaron Mesh

A tense and protracted standoff between Occupy Portland protesters and City Hall ended in the early hours of Sunday morning as police arrested 27 Occupiers in the Pearl District’s Jamison Square.

The Occupiers’ move into the Pearl defied Mayor Sam Adams’ prohibition of any expansion of the political protest into city parks outside Chapman and Lownsdale squares, where Occupy Portland has been camped for more than three weeks.

Portland police released the names of the protesters arrested early Sunday. The protesters ranged in age from 16 to 60. Their median age: 24.

As Jamison Square closed at midnight, a circle of 30 people sat on the cobblestones while other Occupy Portland protesters marched around them. “Whose park?” they chanted. “Our park!”

Adams arrived in Jamison Square a few minutes after midnight. He circled the square once, accompanied by staff and a mob of people yelling at him. “The mayor should be watching this!” they chanted. Adams then moved several blocks away, where he convened with waiting police units.

“I’m here observing,” Adams said. “My job is to keep the peace.”

As police positioned themselves to clear the square, backed out, then moved into position again, the frustrated crowd grew increasingly hostile, chanting, "Cops go home!"

Two hours after the park closed, more than two dozen police in riot gear methodically prodded a few dozen screaming protesters out of the square. Six officers on horseback circled those sitting protesters who had designated themselves as “Arrestables” within the Occupation.

A police van pulled into Jamison Square at 2:24 am, loaded in 25 protesters one by one, and took them to jail a few minutes after 3 am. 

Adams later wrote on his Twitter account: "My decision to enforce park hours at Jamison is based on the fact it is surrounded by homes: Lonsdale/Chapman [sic] are not."

Video: Portland Police officers push Occupy Portland protesters from the grounds of Jamison Square a few minutes before 2 am Sunday.

The protest in the Pearl began Saturday around 3:30 p.m., after a march protesting Bank of America at the Convention Center that concluded in Jamison Square.

About 100 people hung around the square all afternoon and evening, some with young children. At 11 p.m., protesters left the larger group and banded into a smaller one that represented the people willing to be arrested.

Jensen Thomas, who planned to be arrested, told WW that occupying Jamison Square was civil disobedience.

“It’s actually a terrible place to occupy,” he said. “[The city] said we shouldn’t do it. We said, ‘Why not?’ This is just people saying, ‘Why?’ I’m willing to be arrested for that why. It’s just additional debt that I won’t be able to pay.”

As the midnight curfew approached, protesters took turns using a megaphone to explain why they were participating in the sit-in. They mainly addressed issues of income inequality, ranging from the high cost of education to the loss of jobs.

Not all Occupy Portland participants were happy about Saturday’s protest. Michael Withey, a member of the Occupation’s Finance Committee, said the vast majority of the occupiers worried this protest could ruin what has been the group’s congenial relationship with the city.

“A lot of us are just baffled why we’re here,” he said. “It’s kind of a slap in the face to [the city]. Nothing good can come of this.” 

Occupy Portland protesters eat pizza in preparation for arrest.
Photo by Aaron Mesh

Art Hendricks, the safety administrator for the city parks department, entered the demonstrators’ circle at 11:50 pm to give a 10-minute warning that the park would close. The Occupiers loudly jeered him.

Outside the circle, Hendricks got into a debate with one Occupier, who wanted a justification for the city’s enforcement of its ordinances.

“This is a land of laws,” Hendricks said.

“This is a land of opportunity,” the protester replied.

“And a land of laws, brother,” Hendricks said.

Police cars first entered Jamison Square about 12:50 a.m., nearly an hour after the park closed.

They cuffed one man. The horses kept protesters back from the car while police put the man in the back seat and placed his bike and protest sign in the trunk.

That left 28 protesters, but police waited more than an hour to clear the park, and actually pulled out of the square for 15 minutes. When they moved back in, protesters surrounded them with cell phones and video cameras.

“You have a choice,” Occupiers intoned. “Make no arrests.”

Police horses moved into Jamison Square after the midnight deadline.
Photo by Aaron Mesh


 
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