As the city ratcheted up pressure on Occupy Portland to move out of its camp in downtown parks, protesters made two conciliatory gestures Tuesday night: They pledged half of the $2,000 raised at a comedy show to restoring the parks, and they began re-hanging their plastic tarps 12 feet off the ground to meet fire marshal demands.
But any progress made in Occupy-City Hall relations was likely submarined around 9 pm, when police said a Molotov cocktail was ignited in an exterior stairwell of the World Trade Center building a block from the camp. It caused little damage. The cops said they had been investigating the creation and storage of Molotov cocktails at the camp since Halloween.
Much of the camp's leadership was across the Willamette River when the Molotov cocktail was lit. They were attending the comedy show.
More than 100 people attended the "Occupy Bagdad" stand-up comedy and silent auction event at the Bagdad Theater—including four uniformed Portland Police officers, who also parked a squad car across from the McMenamins pub on Hawthorne Boulevard.
Half of the money gathered at the fundraiser will go to Occupy Portland, which is essentially broke after a former committee member returned $14,000 in PayPal contributions to donors. But event organizer Arlo Stone said Tuesday that "a grand of what we raised tonight goes to the parks."
Some Occupiers were aggrieved that police followed a few dozen protesters to a non-protest.
"I think if anybody wants proof that we live in a police state, that would be it," said Micaiah Dutt, pointing to six officers parked across Southeast 37th Avenue. "My perception is that the city is getting more and more frustrated. They want us to go indoors and 'use the electoral process,' which we all know is bullshit."
In the past week, Mayor Sam Adams has urged Occupiers to control crime and drug use in their camps, the Portland Police Union has declared it is fed up with the protesters, and the parks department has ceased garbage service and shut down park bathrooms.
Occupiers on Tuesday delayed a reply to Adams, tabling it until today, but they did begin tearing down tarps and rehanging them at least 12 feet off the ground, complying with a fire-marshal deadline.
Some Occupiers said the increased visibility would also help control misbehavior by street kids living in the camp.
"We're gonna raise the roof to 12 feet and we're going to expose people for what they really are," said finance committee member Michael Withey. "We'll still have covers, but they're not their own personal enclaves anymore."