Organizers of a Mount Tabor camping protest to fight covering or draining the city's open-air reservoirs have refused to meet in advance with the Portland Police Bureau.
Leaders of the Occupy Mount Tabor movement—now called "Camp Cascadia"—say Portland Police Sgt. Craig Dobson posted on their Facebook page, asking them to meet for a conversation before they begin pitching tents on July 12.
But Camp Cascadia leader Jessie Sponberg says the occupiers don't trust the police to be non-violent.
Instead, the group wants to meet with an elected official who has the authority to request an LT2 waiver—an exemption to federal requirements to cover open-air drinking water storage tanks. They suggest Mayor Charlie Hales, City Commissioner Nick Fish (who oversees the Water Bureau), or an official from the Oregon Health Authority.
"We recognize that the men & women of the Portland Police Bureau drink the same water and pay the same rates as the rest of us, and we are always willing to welcome their support," the occupiers wrote Tuesday on their Facebook page. "However, we are disappointed that the only city agency to reach out to us is one that has absolutely no decision-making authority regarding the LT2 waiver & the closure of the Mt. Tabor reservoirs."
"We are also hesitant, given the Portland Police Bureau's history of assaulting peaceful protesters," the occupiers continue. "We sincerely hope that the Charlie Hales administration will not resort to violence to resolve matters, the way that his predecessor did."
The fight to keep Portland from covering or draining its reservoirs in Washington Park and Mount Tabor has united anti-fluoridation activists and veterans of the 2011 Occupy Portland camps, especially since WW broke news in May that the city would stop seeking a deferral on 2016 deadlines to cover the tanks. The protesters plan to return to City Hall this morning with a bullhorn and pots and pans.
UPDATE, 11:45 am: Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson confirms the bureau asked to meet with Camp Cascadia organizers.
"We always reach out to unpermitted protests," says Simpson. "It doesn't sound like we've gotten any response. Our intent with this, as with any protest, is to balance free speech with laws. If it looks like it's going to be confrontational and we have to set hard and fast ground rules, then we may. I just don't know yet."