Occupy Portland organizers are thinking about limiting who gets fed at the camps
. They're trying to figure out how to respond to growing pressure from city officials that the camp deal with the problem of drugs and violence in Lownsdale and Chapman squares.
Campers have complained for weeks that the homeless have flooded the camp, bringing problems the protesters aren’t equipped to deal with and distracting from the movement’s activism. On Monday evening shortly before General Assembly, Mayor Sam Adams issued an open letter to the camp insisting they clean up their act.
Several occupiers said they didn’t know how to do that, but here were a few suggestions from Monday:
• Close the kitchen. No one proposed cutting off the food supply entirely, but many supported an idea to issue food vouchers for people who serve on committee or work in the camp. The idea is that people who come to camp only to party or fight would not be able to eat and would eventually leave. One man said the situation has gotten so bad that volunteers, especially ones with children, are afraid to come to the camp and this may help eliminate some of the most worrisome campers. Others said it wouldn’t work, that groups like the Anarchists would just take over the kitchen anyway.
• Ask the police to help. Many Occupiers said they didn’t feel up to the challenge of confronting people with guns, which started showing up in camp this weekend. They said having the police do regular patrols of camp would make sense, because police have the training to deal with armed people. Others said it would only antagonize the people with weapons because they hate the police. Another faction said they didn’t trust the police and didn’t want them wandering around camp.
• Internal security. Most Occupiers who didn’t like the idea of the police in the camp thought Occupy Portland could police itself by using pacifist tactics to defuse violent situations. Most people on the Safety Committee seemed to the think this wouldn’t work.
The camp will vote on these proposals Tuesday night, as well as on proposals to hold two daily GA meetings rather than one and to host an Occupy Hawthorne event on November 19.
General Assembly meetings are held every day at 7 pm in Terry Schrunk Plaza.