November 7th, 2011 | Hannah Hoffman News | Posted In: Activism, City Hall

About $14,000 Donated to Occupy Portland is Returned to Givers Without Camp's Approval

Occupy Leaders Say the Move Leaves Them Essentially Broke

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Occupy Portland activists say about $14,000 that supporters donated to their cause has been sent back to givers, leaving the camp essentially broke.

On top of that, activists say, thousands in cash donations has been stolen from the camp's information tent in small increments as it has come in. They say so little financial oversight exists, it’s impossible to tell if someone in or out of the camp took it.

Occupy leaders say they are having a fundraiser Tuesday night at 6:30 pm at the Bagdad Theater to help replace some of the money that was returned to donors.

Occupier Arlo Stone says Brian Howarth, a former member of the camp’s finance committee, had a PayPal account that contained about $14,000 people had donated to the movement.

Late last week, Stone says, Howarth gave that money back to the donors, and he did so without the consent of other Occupy organizers.

Howarth couldn't be reached for comment.

Media committee member Reid Parham says he found out what Howarth had done when people started tweeting about it Friday.

Heather Davis wrote to the camp in an email, “A few weeks ago or so I donated 50$ (sic) to Occupy Portland. Today I received notification that I would get a full refund. But I really wanted that to go to Occupy! What's up?”

The money won’t go to Occupy Portland, and that has activists worried.

Parham says Howarth twice told General Assembly, the camp's nightly meeting, he would use the money for the movement. But he never did.

Howarth and three other finance committee members were ostracized for filing papers to incorporate an Occupy Portland non-profit, and he is no longer helping with the movement.

Stone says the money debacle underscores the camp’s dysfunction: It doesn’t have enough leadership or resources to run and the activism message has been lost under the group’s division and arguing.

“I’m ready to jump ship,” he said. “It’s going down as any kind of productive entity.”

Parham also bemoans the lack of leadership. The group set up a multi-signature trust to handle the money, but he says so far there's no money in it.

And he says cash donations have gone missing at the information tent repeatedly and no one knows if it’s a camper or an outsider who has taken it, because there’s no system in place to handle that money in spite of multiple attempts to make people write receipts.

“It’s so unclear who’s in control,” he said.

He says he’s not sure yet what it will mean to lose the $14,000, but he’s not happy about it.

“It at least leaves the camp kind of shit out of luck,” he says.

 

 
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