November 1st, 2011 | by HANNAH HOFFMAN News | Posted In: Activism, City Hall, Cops and Courts, Media, Politics

A Desire for a Drug- and Crime-free Occupy Camp Inspired Move into Terry Schrunk Plaza

10 Occupiers Arrested in Early Morning Raid; Portland Police in Riot Gear Help Feds Clear Park

     
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schrunk6Portland police making arrests at Terry Schrunk Plaza early Friday - Courtesy KATU
Portland police in riot gear helped clear Terry Schrunk Plaza at about 4 am Tuesday after Occupy Portland campers ignored warnings from federal officials to move out. Police say they arrested about 10 Occupiers.

The move by occupiers to leave the main camps, in Lownsdale and Chapman squares just to the north, also revealed growing tension within the camp about the rampant drug use among occupiers and growing frustration about the ineffectiveness of the group’s consensus-based decision making.

Until now, Occupy Portland has used Terry Schrunk Plaza, which is a federal park, for its General Assembly meetings but hasn’t camped there.

Kristen Jones, the full-time Lewis & Clark College student who instigated the move, said it made sense to take over the federal land. The Occupy movement is about protesting the government, Jones said, and it’s time for protesters to take back their land.

“It’s a federal park,” she said. “Guess what: I’m paying rent right now in my taxes every month.”

Jones said she and her fellow plaza campers had more in mind than protesting the feds: they wanted a place away from the drug use and apathy they feel has come to define the Occupy Portland camp.

“We’re here to take back our movement,” Jones said.

She goes to school all day and volunteers in the camp at night and said she’s tired of watching her fellow protesters either get high and party or sit around on benches not actually protesting anything.

Terry Schrunk Plaza’s federal status makes using drugs there a federal offense—a selling point for Jones, who said the plaza campers intend to kick out anyone carrying or using drugs.

The new camp started at 1:30 am Monday morning when about seven people pitched four tents in the plaza.

Jones and her crew didn’t run the idea past General Assembly. Jones said she considers GA a farce because it’s a government, which the group is supposedly protesting, and because most of GA’s members aren’t staying in the camp overnight.

“We did not once care about the GA’s approval,” she told the crowd. “We decided we didn’t need everyone’s approval to do something."

The plaza closed at 10 pm Monday night and crowds of protesters, TV news stations, newspaper reporters and bystanders crowded around the plaza's amphitheater to wait for the coming arrests.

They waited.

And waited.

And did some interpretive dance to the Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like an Eagle” coming from a portable speaker.

Waited some more.

Staged an All Hallow’s Eve celebration complete with chanting and candles.

Mayor Sam Adams issued a ban on park camping outside of Lownsdale and Chapman squares Thursday when word got out members of Occupy Portland planned to camp in the Pearl District’s Jamison Square. On Saturday night and into Sunday morning, police and protesters had an hours-long standoff in the square that resulted in 27 arrests.
 
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