December 2nd, 2011 | by Hannah Hoffman and Aaron Mesh News | Posted In: Activism, City Hall, Drugs

UPDATED: Occupy Portland Wants to Camp in Another Park. Is It Paranoid Park?

     
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paranoid_parkO'Bryant Square - Wikipedia Commons

UPDATE: The Occupy Portland march concluded in the South Park Blocks at about 4:30 pm Sunday. Occupiers brought sleeping bags and tents, but police had started arriving by 5 pm and sources on the ground say it looks unlikely campers will stay the night.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: Occupy Portland told the city today it plans a "Reoccupation" of another city park Saturday afternoon, three weeks after its eviction from Chapman and Lownsdale squares. It didn't tell the city its chosen park, and won't reveal it until tomorrow.

But three sources—two within City Hall and one in Occupy Portland—tell WW they believe the Reoccupation will be in O’Bryant Square, better known as Paranoid Park.

Occupy leaders say they will hold a General Assembly at Salmon Street Springs Fountain in Waterfront Park at 2 p.m. Saturday, then march to the new target park at 3 p.m. O’Bryant Square is located between Southwest Stark and Washington streets, and Southwest Ninth and Park avenues.

The Occupy Portland website tells Occupiers to bring tents sleeping bags and hula hoops, but Mayor Sam Adams said in a press release this afternoon that he has directed the Portland Police Bureau to enforce all parks rules, which include the ban on camping after midnight—setting up yet another potential showdown.

"As we look to make our own budget cuts in the coming year," Adams wrote, "we simply cannot afford another encampment in our city."

Occupy Portland is mercurial on its best days, and the scuttlebutt City Hall officials are hearing about O'Bryant Square may be nothing more than a feint.  

“They may screw with people by changing it at the last minute," one Occupier told WW on Friday.

But O'Bryant Square meets one of the biggest the needs of the Reoccupation protest: Its surface is almost entirely paved, so there's no grass for campers to destroy.

Occupy Portland sent a letter today to Mayor Sam Adams, Police Chief Mike Reese and Commissioner Nick Fish announcing the Reoccupation, but pledged to reduce its footprint by "trying to contain as much of the camp to bricked or paved areas where available."

O'Bryant Square has a storied history of people sleeping in it. It has been better known by the nicknames "Paranoid Park" and "Needle Park" since its 1980s heyday as a heroin-shooting hangout for addicts and street kids. (Blake Nelson wrote a YA novel called Paranoid Park, and Gus Van Sant made it into a movie, but they changed the location to skater haven Burnside Skate Park.)

If Occupy Portland wants to join that legacy of public gatherings in Paranoid Park, it's officially denying it.

"O'Bryant Square has not come up in conversation," Jordan LeDoux, an Occupier leading the Reoccupation event, told WW. "I guess the city is looking at what makes the most sense to us, but we intentionally have not decided on a location."

LeDoux says Occupiers will vote at Salmon Street Springs Fountain tomorrow.

 
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